Since the big (and quite boring) football restart, Aston Villa fans have had plenty to debate and that doesn’t change with us going into effectively a ‘must win’ clash with Arsenal on Tuesday evening.
Sitting three points off Watford who occupy the last safety spot when it comes to relegation, results continue to largely go our way – but that of course simply magnifies the frustration that we were unable to capitalise on better performances against Sheffield United, Newcastle United, and most recently, Everton.
It could all be different, it should be different, but we only have ourselves to blame.
Speaking to Sky Sports to preview our upcoming clash, the message from head coach Dean Smith to the team largely remains the same – go and prove your doubters wrong.
“I think there’s been pressure on us ever since we came back for Project Restart. I think everybody has had us relegated since March. Our job is to go and prove people wrong. These players have played under pressure and they seem to thrive on it. I feel that our performance levels have been good since Project Restart but we haven’t got the points we deserve. That’s been pretty much down to the final third of the pitch. I feel that players are coming to the fore now at the top end of the pitch and starting to perform a lot better than they were. I’ve given them a few quotes from pundits. The lads can go and use that as a positive. I’ve always said my drive has always been to prove people wrong. You’ll always have people who want to put you down and aren’t happy to see people’s success.”
There will be those fans who take issue with his assertion that we have ‘thrived’ on the pressure, and most definitely the claim that we are improving at the top end of the pitch, but we all knew this season was going to be tough, tight and difficult – particularly with so many new players arriving over the summer – but whatever has come before, we have already had the chances to make life easy, so now we simply have to do it the hard way.
Match or better Watford’s result tomorrow and then everything crossed for West Ham.
“It’s frustrating because I believe we’ve got the players here. We’ve been hampered by some big injuries this season to key players; Tom Heaton, Wesley, John McGinn. They would hamper any team in the league. We’ve had players that have actually grown in stature as the season’s gone on. But it’s frustrating we haven’t got the points already that we believe we should have. But we have to go and do something about that now.”
That last line is the important one and even if we ‘do something about’ it now, there will be those fans wondering if it’s too little, too late.