Five reasons why Aston Villa fans shouldn't give up hope

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

Aston Villa's 1-0 defeat to Swansea City at the weekend means they are still in the thick of a relegation battle.

Bafetimbi Gomis' late goal against Aston Villa for Swansea consigned the midlands side to a 1-0 defeat and, for some fans, reignited fears that they may yet be drawn into the relegation scrap.

The defeat leaves the Villans firmly entrenched in the bottom six, five points behind 14th placed West Bromwich Albion and only three above Burnley who occupy the third relegation spot. While only Hull City of the bottom six have a better goal difference than Villa, Tim Sherwood's men have figures comparative to the teams around them with the 4-0 thrashing of Sunderland now looking like more of a crucial win than ever.

With eight games to go there is still much left to play for. Here are five reasons we think Villa fans shouldn't worry too much.

1) Goals have returned under Sherwood

While the defeat at the weekend was depressing, especially considering the late time of Gomis' winner, it's a blip in what has otherwise been a good series of results for Aston Villa. While wins over West Bromwich Albion in the league and cup are good for bragging rights there is a bigger morale boost in that Villa have actually started finding the onion bag. Three consecutive wins in all competitions, eight goals for and one against, have clearly shaken the monkey that was on the team's back and that confidence will help the players in the coming weeks.

2) The disciplinary record has improved under Sherwood

Villa were suffering from some real ill-discipline on the pitch, with six players having been sent off this season. In recent weeks though there has been a definite change, with the team picking up fewer bookings and with that having to worry less about completing a game short-handed or having players suspended at crucial times. This is an indicator that the level of frustration and desperation within the team has decreased somewhat and is another factor of the good work the former Spurs boss has done.

3) Sunderland are still falling rapidly despite changing manager

The change of boss at the Stadium of Light could make the difference between relegation and Premier League survival for the Black Cats but their first game under Dick Advocaat was a disappointing one. Sunderland have been poor for a while and unless they can break their recent run of poor results they will be the ones most likely to fall into the bottom three. The 4-0 win that ended Gus Poyet's Sunderland career may well be the result that saves Villa and relegates Sunderland.

4) The bottom three are struggling to pick up points

Burnley's win against Manchester City was a huge boost to them but this weekend's results will have heartened Villa fans greatly. QPR lost by an odd goal when they could have got a big point, Burnley will feel aggrieved that they didn't get a penalty and Leicester came back against Tottenham strongly only to lose the game. Even Hull and Sunderland lost by odd goals in games where a point was possible - Hull in morale-sapping circumstances against Chelsea having dragged the game back to 2-2. If the teams around them can't win games and are fighting their own demons, that can only be good for Villa.

5) Villa have their destiny in their own hands

While away games at Manchester United and Spurs coming up are going to be hard, Villa also have games against QPR and Burnley at Villa Park. Sherwood will know that if they can get a good result against QPR it makes it so much harder for Chris Ramsey's side to catch them and so I believe he will be concentrating on getting that one right above all else in the coming weeks. If they can get a point away at Old Trafford or White Hart Lane then that will be a bonus but I think the key in those games will be to at least keep it tight and competitive - and not to worry too much if they lose by the odd goal. While Villa won't want it to come down to the last game of the season, it's easier knowing that if you win the game in front of you then results elsewhere don't matter.

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