Aston Villa on path to finish 17th or bottom of the Premier League
Paul Lambert may not believe that Aston Villa are in a relegation battle, but four straight league defeats means that they are now only three points clear of the bottom three.
The fact that Villa are without the spine of the first team is tough, with Ron Vlaar and Jores Okore injured in defence, Ashley Westwood out in central midfield and main man up front Christian Benteke sidelined too.
However, Villa supporters have been unhappy with the team’s style for much of the season, with Lambert opting for a more direct approach that is best suited to conceding possession and hitting opposition on the counter attack.
The problem is that opposing managers are now starting to defend deep against Villa, especially those also in the bottom half of the Premier League standings, and Lambert does not have the creativity and flair in his squad to find a way through.
Villa have failed to score a single goal against any of the four teams currently situated between 17th and bottom in the Premier League standings.
It is at Villa Park where Lambert has found the most difficulty, with no other team in the top-flight securing fewer points on their own patch and struggling to such lengths to score goals.
Villa fans have only witnessed six home goals all season and three of these were in a classic smash-and-grab success over Premier League title favourites Manchester City.
If Villa do not improve at home in the second half of the campaign, there is not only every reason to believe that they will be relegated, but that they could falter to the foot of the table.
Aston Villa’s odds are 11/2 to be relegated at present, which looks a fairly generous price, while the 25/1 that they finish bottom is worthy of a small saver.
After all, in the last eight Premier League seasons, Hull are the only team to have had the worst home record and not ended up finishing in 20th spot.
Meanwhile, going back nine seasons, West Brom joined Hull in being dreadful at home but staying up, doing so by the smallest margin by finishing 17th.
Swansea are the next visitors to Villa Park in the Premier League and this could end up being a good fixture for Lambert.
Not only did Villa take four points off Swansea under Lambert last season, but the Welsh outfit are on a four-game winless run themselves and have only kept two clean sheets in their nine away games so far this season.
It is Aston Villa that are the slenderest favourites to beat Swansea at 7/5, with Michael Laudrup’s men at 6/4 and the draw on offer at 11/5.
Meanwhile, 11/5 is also the price that Villa’s scoring woes continue and Swansea leave with a clean sheet.