Due to midweek Champions League action, I was unable to write about Monday night’s Premier League game, better late than never I suppose.
The game produced a superb 6-1 win for relegation threatened Aston Villa at home to fellow strugglers Sunderland.
The home side were outstanding as they pulled the visitors apart to clinch three vital points and pull the Black Cats right back into the relegation dogfight.
Villa put in their best performance of the season against ten-man Sunderland and were rewarded with their biggest win of the season
The victory put moved Villa five points clear of the relegation zone. It really was a crucial victory at just the right time for the Villans. Wigan, who are third from bottom have a game in hand on Villa, but still the Midlanders now have the upper hand on the club from Lancashire.
The star of Villa’s victory was young Belgium striker Christian Benteke, who fired home a hat-trick for the home side. The 22 year-striker has found the net 18 times in his first season in the English top flight.
Benteke’s goals have kept Villa’s hopes of Premier League survival alive at times. He has been outstanding for Villa following his £7million summer move from Genk. Benteke has now attracted the interest of some of the bigger clubs in the Premier League.
Villa may struggle to keep the Belgium international at Villa Park in the summer. It would be a shame for Villa to lose the young striker though.
The buzzword around Aston Villa this season must be faith. Villa boss Paul Lambert has kept faith with his young team and that faith maybe repaid by his team surviving in the Premier League this season.
It may not be ideal that Villa’s only ambition was to survive in the top flight this season, but it is better than the alternative of the club being in the second tier season.
The fans have had to show a tremendous amount of faith in the youngsters wearing the claret and blue shirts and their boss. When Paul Lambert arrived in the summer, I am sure that most Villa fans thought that their team would enjoy a better season than last season under the much-maligned Alex McLeish.
However, Paul Lambert took a huge gamble by bringing in youngsters from the lower leagues, and in Benteke’s case from abroad. The former-Norwich boss decided that he would build the foundations of his Villa team on youngsters.
At times, there have been doubts over whether Lambert’s approach would be successful. Villa’s season could yet end in relegation, but the young Villa team have started to repay Lambert for his faith.
Aston Villa faces a trip to fellow strugglers Norwich in their next match, Paul Lambert’s club ironically. The Scot is likely to receive a frosty welcome on his return to Carrow Road. The Canaries are just one point above Villa and a victory would surely ensure the Villans safety.
One victory will take Villa onto that magic 40-point mark, with games against Chelsea and Wigan also to come. Should Villa fail to gain the points they need to reach safety in the next two games, then the last game of the season at rivals Wigan could be a must-win clash.
However, with the momentum that the Villans gained from their victory over Sunderland I expect Villa to get out of trouble. The margin of victory was not expected and it will give Villa’s young team a massive boost for their last three games.
If Villa do survive this season then the experience gained from this season will be invaluable for the future of their young stars. Some of those youngsters will go on to become established Premier League stars and some will not make the grade.
I have been a big fan of Paul Lambert since he helped Norwich gain consecutive promotions, and playing very decent football with it. What funds that Lambert has to spend this summer will dictate how Villa does next season.
I hope that Lambert can improve his squad next season and it is vital for the Villans to keep hold of star striker Christian Benteke this summer.
Aston Villa is a big club and should be finishing higher in the Premier League table. However, owner Randy Lerner looks to have lost his chequebook. Lerner has spent a lot of money in his tenure in charge of the club and will not spend much more money.
After the Sunderland victory, the future looks slightly brighter for Aston Villa and their supporters. I do expect Villa to survive in the top flight this season and be stronger for it next season.
Aston Villa should now clinch Premier League survival