One streak was going to end at Ewood Park this afternoon. Either Sam Allardyce was going to lose his first match for Blackburn in the league, or Aston Villa was going to win seven on the trot away from Villa Park.
When it was all said and done, Blackburn Rovers turned over and Aston Villa turned on the style in a 2-0 win. In fact, it could be argued Heskey’s over turned goal should have been allowed in the seventeenth minute as I saw no push and it was Robinson who ran into his own player.
It’s amazing to look at these numbers for Aston Villa. 13 games unbeaten in the league, a club record set of seven away wins. According to the BBC, this is Aston Villa’s best run in the top flight since 1898 and that’s with a title in 1980-81. What’s even more amazing is that we’re just now truly noticing what it takes to be a consistent top four club. For the Manchester United’s of the world, you expect it. You don’t even think about it because their form is a given.
There’s no denying it now. Unless there is a major catastrophe to happen to Martin O’Neill side, they will finish in the Champions League places. The only question is can they finish in the automatic Champions League places? All it takes is third this season, and with the way Arsenal and Chelsea are playing, Aston Villa will finish within the top three.
Even if Aston Villa finish third or fourth, this has been a remarkable season for them and they deserve to be playing Champions League football next season. It’s also amazing to me what happens when you don’t hear about the ownership at the club (in this case Randy Lerner, an American) and the owners let the manager’s manage and the players play.
Sam Allardyce sums up Aston Villa perfectly. His quote “Credit to Villa as they didn’t just stop us playing but played well themselves.” They keep doing that, and they just might finish second.
Chelsea on the other hand better start thinking about the UEFA Cup. Today’s performance at home against Hull City was simply pathetic. They looked a team with no guts, no heart, and were just looking to collect a paycheck. My two day old nephew probably cared more about the result than the players on the pitch.
What’s amazing to me is the mental count I had of legit scoring opportunities in the match. I counted four for Hull City and only two for Chelsea, and one of those is still in orbit thanks to John Terry’s miss from three yards out. They look tactically dead and it’s almost as if the players have tuned Luiz Felipe Scolari out.
The players at Stamford Bridge should be ashamed of themselves, but as long as they are collecting their sick wages they don’t give a toss. About the only thing that could change Chelsea’s fortunes is missing out on the Champions League and starting from scratch. Whole scale changes need to be made if Chelsea want to even think about moving forward for titles/trophies.
If Arsenal beat Tottenham tomorrow in the North London Derby, the battle for fourth in my mind switches to between Arsenal and Chelsea. With the squads on offer today, I’d give the nod to Arsenal. Arsenal have a historic track record of being in the top four, Chelsea simply do not.
Other Thoughts on Today
* Credit goes to Jo for his two goals today. However, did that look like a bit of a dive to set up Arteta from the spot?
* I guess the trick for Newcastle United to win is for Joe Kinnear to not be on the touchline.
* For all the excitement I had for Wigan Athletic/Fulham, but what a dud.
* I would have loved to see Rafa go off about Kuyt’s disallowed goal as he was onside. But thanks to Portsmouth throwing the game away, we probably won’t get to hear that.
Credit to the BBC via the PA for the photo.