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Villa Must be Safe After Next 5 Games – Closer Look

Aston Villa’s relegation run in is really hotting up with the next five games representing the most important in recent years at the club. I would suggest that Villa need to be safe come the end of these clashes with the season ending with an away day at Arsenal followed by a home tie against Liverpool, who Houllier will be supporting remains to be seen on this occasion. Either way the month of April is a kind one in terms of fixtures, with a decent, if albeit frustrating draw with Everton leaving Villa 1 point off the drop and 3 points off the bottom. The next 5 games are against Newcastle (H), West Ham (A), Stoke (H), West Brom (A) and Wigan (H), none of whom are mathematically safe from relegation either. So how many points would you expect, and more importantly how many do you predict Villa will tie up from 15 possible and 15 highly achievable available points? For a more detailed look at the upcoming games and my predictions

Newcastle (H) – Next up the Toon Army come to Villa Park fresh off the back of a 4-1 trouncing of Villa’s Midland rivals and relegation battlers Wolves. Pardew’s men, managed by, the unfortunate to be out of a job, Chris Hughton at the time pulled off an either bigger hammering of Villa at St James Park early on in the season when caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald oversaw a crushing 6-0 defeat. Newcastle have scored bucket loads of goals this season which doesn’t fair well for Villa’s opposition friendly defence but the key stat in Villa’s favour in this one is the suspension of skipper Kevin Nolan. The talismanic midfielder scored his 12 league goal of the season on Saturday, netting a brace in the humiliation last year. Andy Carroll bagged a hat-trick that day but has since departed so this one should go very differently and I expect Villa’s home advantage to count. Prediction 2-1

West Ham (A) – The Hammers have been at the foot of the league all season due, in no small part, to a defence rivalling Villa’s for their generosity. However, Avram ‘Candle’ Grant has turned the side around somewhat with some decent signings and has been boosted by the return from injury of an old Villa icon. Thomas ‘the Hammer’ Hitzlsperger will be hoping to prove the club wrong for letting him leave the club on a free in 2005. The German international has only just recovered from a lengthy spell out but since making his comeback he has netted twice and set-up a further 4 goals in just 6 games in a solid midfield alongside Parker and Noble. Demba Ba has also shone and the likes of Piquionne and Obinna have proved decent acquisitions for a struggling club with no lack of fire power. Prediction 2-2

Stoke City (H) – Tony Pulis’ men are looking to recover from a poor run of form that has seen them, along with the likes of Sunderland, slip back into the relegation dogfight. With 38 points they should be safe but a lack of goals up top saw them slump to 3 defeats from four last month. The Potters did however pull off a commendable 1-1 draw with Chelsea at the weekend and will be exactly the same test that they always are in this month’s game. The likes of Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross give little away and weigh in with some goals to boot, the former being the clubs leading scorer with 8. The visitors will be without loanee John Carew to face his old club and are undoubtedly a much easier prospect to face at home than at Britannia. An unfortunate last minute winner from Huth last year gave Stoke an undeserved victory earlier in the season after Downing had headed Villa in front. Prediction 1-1

West Brom (A) – The Baggies have been a different animal under Roy Hodgson thus far having previously been awful defensively. The former Liverpool boss overcame his old employers at the weekend thanks to two goals from captain Chris Brunt, both from the penalty spot and both won by leading scorer Peter Odemwingie. The two danger men are likely to be the main threat at the Hawthorns come the end of April and if Albion can keep their defence in shape they should be safe having gone unbeaten under Hodgson with 2 wins and 3 draws in his 5 games in charge. Villa won the return fixture in decent fashion, despite a mere 2-1 scoreline and should have enough to better their derby’s but nearing the end of the season, this one will be an even more tense affair. Prediction 2-2

Wigan Athletic (H) – Come the home tie with Wigan I believe this could be a make or break game for the league’s current bottom club meaning it will be harder, but perhaps a more open affair. Martinez’s men are favourites to go down at this stage and on paper, are Villa’s easiest upcoming fixture, particularly due to the game being played at Villa Park. Houllier has been linked with a number of the Latics’ men and were they to go down, could go in for attacking pair Charles N’Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega, both of whom have hit a baron run in front of goal. Young midfielder’s James McCarthy and Tom Cleverley are a threat and Wigan remain resolute, holding Tottenham to a stalement at the weekend but in all honesty our attacking prowess should overcome a weak backline. Prediction 3-1

So there you have it, clearly I’m optimistic and have gone for no defeats in the next 5 games with plenty of goals. 3 wins would surely see Villa to safety though it’s easier said than done. I’ve predicted we’ll get 9 from a possible 15 points in this upcoming string of crucial games which should see us safe, just about in my opinion as I believe teams need at least 42 points to avoid the drop this year. Thoughts?

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