Date: 18th January 2009 at 7:13pm
Written by:

I have read a few articles lately suggesting we have are on an incredible lucky streak, and they seem to be nothing other than cheap-shots from people wanting us to fail. The ‘facts` that are being banded about may seem simple enough, but once you look a little further, it is not difficult to make an argument to these points.

Let us look at the run:

Everton 2 – 3

Why we were lucky

Everton dominated the game for large portions of it, our second goal came from a sloppy back-pass and we scored our winner beyond the time allocation.

Why that`s rubbish

Everton are a very good side, were at home, were chasing the game immediately as we scored straight away. They play a style of football that is not particularly pretty on the eye but it is effective, and the directness of it forces the opposition under pressure. We play a counter-attacking style that is designed largely to win these type of games.

Our second goal came from an Everton mistake. Prior to the game we recently lost to Middlesborough due to two defensive errors, which they took full advantage of. Were the media saying Boro were lucky? Nah. But when it goes in our favour, and we take advantage of it (with a top class finish, may I add), Villa are lucky.

As for the injury time goal… PAH! Firstly, Everton equalised in injury time, so surely extra time has to be allotted, yes? Secondly, if any of the teams around us had done it, it would be said that it was the sign of a great team to pick themselves up immediately, go up the other end of the pitch and score – and what a great piece of play it was by the way – but apparently when it`s the Villa, it`s nothing to do with ability, mental strength or anything else, it`s luck. Would it have been lucky if Everton had got the winner when we did? Nah, of course not!

After that we played Bolton, where we were very good and they were very poor, so no arguments there.

West Ham 0 – 1 Villa

Why we were lucky

A late fluke of a goal, and we didn`t play brilliantly on the night.

Why that`s rubbish

Okay, I suppose this isn`t rubbish. It WAS a fluke goal. But is winning away in the Premiership, keeping a clean sheet and relying on your goalkeeper and defenders for a night really luck? West Ham played as well as they have played all season (from what I read, no offence meant if that`s considered inaccurate) and AGAIN, we have a counter-attacking style. We certainly threatened their goal on more occasions than just the goal. Also, it`s considered ‘top-class, professional` when other teams at the top win without playing well. When we do it, it`s lucky.

Villa 2 – 2 Arsenal

Why we were lucky

We needed a penalty and an injury-time goal to get a draw.

Why that`s rubbish

We battered them! We hit the woodwork three times! It WAS a penalty! If Gabby hadn`t been fouled, he`d have had a great chance of scoring! There is an argument that Gallas could have been sent off! So what if the equalising goal was in injury-time? It`s still a goal! How many chances did we have? How many did Arsenal have? Oh, and aren`t Arsenal one of the ‘established` top 4, who have been outplayed by us twice this season? Lucky, lucky Villa…

Hull 0 – 1 Villa

Why we were lucky

A late own goal, the penalty that never was and not a great performance on the night.

Why that`s rubbish

Okay, first things first, before the two incidents. We clearly struggle when teams defend deep, which is exactly what Hull did. But we were obviously far more interested in winning the game. By the way, Hull`s tactics were a result of their recent run prior to the game. So, if they had played their normal way, and we`d battered them on the counter and beat them by 4 or 5, which has happened to them this season, it would have been great. But as they changed their tactics, some could even say we were unlucky to play them on that night. But I digress…

The goal was an own-goal, sure. But did it not come from a fantastic cross that meant the defender had to do something or Gabby had an easy finish behind him? Is a great cross that forces the defender into an error not skill? Nah, it`s the Villa, so it`s luck!

The penalty that never was… Um, was exactly that- NOT a penalty! So, the referee makes a brave decision (which covered-up an awful performance on the night by Bennett) and we`re lucky? IT WAS NOT A PENALTY!!!!!!

Villa 2 – 1 West Brom

Why we were lucky

Albion were denied a penalty, they had more possession in the second half.

Why that`s rubbish

Well, I`ve already ranted about Tony Mowbray & his post match comments this week, but let`s go over some of the same points that are applicable here. First of all let`s get the penalty out the way; it wasn`t a penalty, Ashley Young got the ball. The fact that it was Steve Bennett again is immaterial. As for their possession, what did Friedel have to do? How many times did we look like scoring compared to them? Did we ever have to get out of 2nd gear, maybe 3rd at the most?

Sunderland 1 – 2 Villa

Why we were lucky

James Milner had a ‘hand` in the goal and then there was the penalty decision.

Why that`s rubbish

James Milner was tripped, hence why he went down the way he did (and is why it went in the way it did, it was hardly deliberate), and so if the goal is not given then realistically, we get a penalty and Chimbonda is sent off. The penalty decision is arguably unfortunate as it does START outside the area but Gabby is not pulled down until he is in the area, which is when the decision was given. So we were only lucky that the penalty decision was given immediately after a free-kick should have been given! One other thing – it was 1-1 when we went down to 10 men. So, down to 10 men, away at a team in decent form, just under a quarter of the game to go and we win the game 2-1. No credit deserved though; just lucky, lucky, lucky Villa.

During this run, we also had an FA Cup game:

Gillingham 1 – 2 Villa

Why we were lucky

A dubious late penalty

Why that`s rubbish

Having seen it a few times, I am really failing to understand the fuss. Young knocks the ball past the defender, who checked his run whilst making no attempt to play the ball. The defender raising his arms as he steps in Young`s path doesn`t mean it wasn`t a foul! In fact, NRC did exactly the same thing in the first half to one of their players, and a free-kick was given. It looked worse because the player was going at a quicker speed so went down in a more forceful way, but it was still no more of a foul.

Having read some of these articles, I have to chuckle at some of the accusations, too. One article seemed to say we are in the form of our lives and we are very lucky. Hold on, you can`t have it both ways! So, we either deserve the points or we do not; surely if we are playing out of our skin we deserve them, yes?

I also saw a comment saying we are, ‘just like the Mancs` because we ‘get the decisions and force the opposition defence into mistakes”. WHAT? I`ll gloss over the decisions part as I have argued enough of those in what I have said above. But let us look at the second part. So, attacking in such a way that it forces defenders into making mistakes… is that not just good play?

Don`t get me wrong, I am not trying to suggest everyone is against us. Lot`s of ‘neutral` fans are very nice about us and the media are even taking notice. But this (typically British) sense of some people wanting us to fail and questioning of whether or not we deserve to be where we are is starting to grate. Maybe it`s fans of the established top 4 who are concerned this challenge to the normal order of things will remain sustained (of course, it may or may not, who knows?), maybe it`s fans of clubs who are annoyed at their own short-comings when we`re doing well (I`d imagine Spurs, Man City and Newcastle fans particularly fall into this category), maybe it`s just a few sad Blues (or even other local) fans getting a dig in.

I`m not even suggesting this is a totally luck-less run, just that it is no more than any other team gets during the season. Do penalties and own-goals not come from putting the opposition under pressure? ‘You make your own luck` may sometimes read like a cop-out but in essence, it`s a very true saying.

The fact is the table does not lie, and it`s very exciting being a Villa fan right now. So long may it continue, and long may people begrudge our ‘luck`.