Here we go again. I’ve been writing this LeGrove Villa preview for a few seasons now, and every year I wax lyrical about how utterly dismal we are, pick out one or two depressing/barely believable stats demonstrating our ineptitude, offer a brief, yet easily dismissed ray of hope for what would be an almighty upset, then sit back and watch us get royally spanked. Again.
The most recent of these batterings was in the FA Cup Final earlier this year, when even Arsenal’s traditional confidence wobble when faced with an elusive trophy, was nothing when presented with one of the most depressingly abject and spineless Villa performances in recent memory. And there have been many.
Of course back then we were being led by the blustering incompetence of top, top diamond geezer and all-around imposter Timmy ‘fahcking’ Sherwood. Tim had somehow managed to convince everyone that he’s a football manager, when he’s actually more like a low-rent motivational speaker, the kind that plies their trade less on the corporate circuit, and more down your local estate pub after too many pints of Carling and a few lines.
Thankfully the bumbling Aston Villa board, (played with aplomb by a couple of former Arsenal stooges clearly taking the piss), finally saw sense and went out and got a ‘real manager’, the inexperienced, yet undeniably promising Remi Garde. The poor bastard.
Most of the media seem to be billing today’s game as some sort of ‘master versus apprentice’ matchup of the impressive young Garde going head-to-head against his former coach, the wiley old Professor Wenger. My problem with that is that it suggests that this Villa team is at least in some way a representative of Garde and his apparent dynamic continental managerial style. The reality is that so far, young Remi mostly stands powerless on the sidelines, dead-eyed and ashen-faced, wondering what the hell he’s let himself in for.
Garde has yet to lead the team to victory, and for every promising 0-0 against Man City, or 1-1 against Southampton (holy shit! We can defend?!), there’s a 4-0 loss to Everton and a 3-2 against Watford. So for any minor improvement Garde has made, it’s nothing I feel can withstand the current confidence and form of this Arsenal side.
You want stats? Here’s some stats: Villa have gone a club record 14 games without a win, including 8 winless at home. We have the worst defence in the league and have tied the joint worst start to any premier league by any team ever this far into the season. We’ve also conceded 12 goals in our last three games against Arsenal, without scoring.
As for team news, our plucky young homegrown talent Jack Grealish is set to come back into the side. He was ‘suspended’ for 2 games by Garde for going out on the town and acting the arse, an episode I’m not entirely convinced wasn’t in part due to all the smoke Sherwood had previously blown up it. Scott Sinclair is always capable of showing ‘something’, and although we clearly bought the wrong Ayew brother in the summer, Jordan has probably been one of our better players this season and does carry a threat. The problem is that no one else in the team really does, other than Rudy Gestede, but that’s only if you swing decent crosses right in onto his head, which we don’t.
I guess what’s most depressing for me is that in this most crazy of seasons, with Leicester top and Chelsea hovering about the relegation zone (LOL), when every weekend features an upset and how now more than ever it if feels like there are no real nailed-on results, there is still always one – Aston Villa will not win.
So enjoy the game tomorrow and I’ll see you again in May when if Villa aren’t already relegated, it truly will be the most crazy of seasons.