There have been a limited number of “highlights” in this season. More of these showreel moments need to come if Villa are to survive.
Words: Mark Jirobe | @VillaMarkPGH
As Aston Villa gear up to play their biggest game of the season to date against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup Final this weekend, supporters are well aware of the underdog status hanging over the clubs head.
That will not stop the masses from showing up in numbers and cheering on the claret and blue side at Wembley. To those who live and breathe the Midlands colossus, there is no other way to show your support. No matter what happens, the supporters are still there; an effigy that has stood the test of time.
At the same time, supporters are beginning to awaken to the reality of their clubs Premier League season. Aston Villa are exactly one point away from dropping into the relegation zone. They have come up short in many areas in the marathon of a season, often throwing away points when it seemed like that couldn’t possibly happen. All of their ‘must win games’ have found the side falling short, or just not showing up at all.
If there was one word to describe Aston Villa this season, it would be ‘frustrating’.
Along the way, there have been moments of brilliance, pride, glory and wonderment – but these moments have been few and far between for Villa.
Some singular moments have had a lasting impact on supporters. For some, their favourite moment of the season up until present day actually happened on the first day of the season.
Adam Stokes, who is vice chairman for the Pittsburgh Lions in the United States, still remembers the opening fixture well.
“I’m an incorrigible optimist – I don’t get a lot of enjoyment from complaining about Villa”
“Coming into the season, I felt we had a squad with plenty of goals from the midfield and a flair for the dramatic – and for me, there have been plenty of moments where you can see their quality shine through”
“The John McGinn goal to start the campaign against Tottenham felt exactly like what this team could do, even as we dropped points from a winning position.”
Tom Cowley also looks back on the Spurs game with a certain pride, even in the face of defeat.
“What a surreal feeling as the players came out on the opening day, knowing we’d made it back to the big time!”
Aston Villa fans did not have to sit on their hands and wait much longer after the first game of the season for another moment of magic. After a loss to Bournemouth, Aston Villa came up against an Everton side who were in for a surprise on the day.
With a goal in the 21st minute from Wesley, and an icing-on-the-cake goal deep into added time by Anwar El Ghazi, Aston Villa would go on to win the game 2-0.
Mike Pearson, an expat living in Texas, remembers the win fondly:
“Everton at home was a huge highlight for me this season – we played so well and Villa Park, under the lights and internationally televised, was alive!”
“The noise was incredible and it truly felt like a we’re back moment. No matter who you support, you can’t deny how amazing that game sounded.”
Villa and their form would ebb and flow throughout the beginning of the season, but the passion and dedication from the supporters did not waver one tiny bit. The next magical moment in the timeline of Villa’s season would be in the vein of a 5-1 thrashing of fellow newly-promoted side Norwich City.
A Wesley first-half brace was just the start for Villa against the Canaries. The second half saw goals from Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane and an absolute wonder strike from Douglas Luiz. You wouldn’t need to have the best of memories to remember THAT Luiz goal.
“I have never witnessed a goal like that in person before, it still almost feels surreal,” says Bethany Peters from Aston.
“Even though the scoreline was enough to get Villa over the line and win, the Luiz goal will stick with me for quite some time.”
Although it was only a draw, Jack Grealish and his masterstroke against Manchester United will also be remembered for years to come.
Wins against Watford and Brighton may not be remembered for outstanding performances, but their combined six points are currently helping Aston Villa tread water just above the relegation zone.
Preston Petri, from San Antonio, Texas, claims:
“I screamed out loud for both, and clearly those two wins specifically are helping us stay out of the bottom three.”
The result at Burnle away was also a big-time moment for fans, even though Aston Villa would lose Tom Heaton and Wesley for the rest of the season during those 90 minutes.
Vlogger B6 Ben rates this specific match as a great memory.
“Burnley away meant a lot to me,” he states.
“It was an incredible performance and game, and a great atmosphere”
“It really showed what the club is about.”
It would be remiss to forget Trezeguet’s last-minute winner against Leicester City in the Semi-Final of the Carabao Cup. Brian Hannah, who is an avid member of the ‘Chicago Villans’ kept it sweet and to the point, stating:
“It was just one of those magic nights under the lights at Villa Park.”
Due to Aston Villa’s precarious position and the tall order of squaring up against Guardiola’s Manchester City in the League Cup Final, supporters are shouting for more of these aforementioned moments. The skill level is there, it’s just a matter of putting it together on any given matchday.
It would do Villa a world of good to come away from the Cup Final, no matter what the result, with a renewed sense of purpose and pride to remain in the Premier League.
Remaining in the Premier League is only going to happen if these players, this manager, this club all pull in the same direction as one entity. There will be no room for passengers on the way to Premier League survival. There will be highs, lows, frustration and jubilation.
Who knows? We may even see some more magical moments from Aston Villa a lot sooner than you think.