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Lucky? Not Likely!

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`.




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The Journalist

Writer: Sheriff Kimbo Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday January 18 2009

Time: 7:12PM

Your Comments

Too many games won, to say we are being lucky, its ridiculous. never seen a team be so lucky as we are at the moment.
krisvilla
I think Villa have been very lucky recently, but it's nothing other teams don't go through also. In our unbeaten season we were lucky it the run wasn't ended incredibly early. I think what's happening is that Villa fans are thinking that there's something wrong with a bit of luck, when there isn't. It's not something you need to deny. Every team gets it. As for the penalty yesterday, the referee clearly signals that the pen was given for the high foot, which happened outside the area!! But once again, every team gets these decisions, you don't need to come out and defend yourself against them. When people start complaining about luck and whatnot, it's only because they're worried, and it sure as hell is in my case. Now ..... can you pass some of that luck on please? :)
Rocky7
Well said. Nobody mentions all the bad luck we've had. Everybody needs some luck, but we've had no more than our fair share.
HeathfieldRoad1874
Great article Sheriff!! Puts down in writing my thoughts exactly, without the profanities.
godzvilla
To be fair Rocky7, I feel the need to defend us because of some of the tripe written about us. Honestly, some of it is so ridiculous that I should not even acknowledge it but when it's your own club you can't help it can ya, it's like someone shouting their mouth off about your close friends or family!
Sheriff Kimbo
dont worry it wont last forever,and then you can get back to being mediocre....now pass me my pint of bitter
fran merida
You make your own luck in football. Take for example 'fluke' goals, if you don't shoot you don't score. Or the goal Young got when Jagielka screwed up his pass back, if Young wasn't tirelessly chasing every ball he wouldn't of been there to score - Jags did the pass back because he presumed nobody would be there, but Youngs effort meant he was. Obviously penalty decisions are a slightly different thing, players can dive/cheat/make the most of something, but ultimatly it's down to those guys with the whistle. It's neither teams fault of the competence of them, we hate them when they give a decision against us, and they're doing a good job when they give decisions for us. Every fan is going to think a decision should go his teams way at first glance, only later after replays can you make an informed judgement. But the ref doesn't get that, so it's not luck, it's got absolutely nothing to do with luck. As for late goals being lucky... I fail to see how it is any more/less lucky at what time a goal is scored. What happens if your on top all game having chance after chance, and finally score and win 1-0 in the last minute? It's not lucky, it's unlucky if anything that it took that long to break a team down.
EvertonMike
Thanks for that Mike. A very balanced post - unlike some!!! I agree. Also, the better sides are scoring late, but presumably it's because we play for the full 96 minutes. This is down to the players attitude, coaching and fitness levels, not luck.
HeathfieldRoad1874
i was gonna write the same thing!
ric112
Blimey someone has too much time on his hands ? , don't come back bemoaning bad luck when it arrives! I'll say we are lucky at the moment but sooner or later that luck will go against us . It's the way it is, there really is no reason to look for excuses for it. We haven't played well except the first half against Arsenal, where we were unlucky , the last few games we have been lucky . Lets just enjoy it !
Villan57
Can boro have some of your luck please lol Oh and please please please take this useless excuse of a manager back!
TimBoro
Gary Player once said the harder I work the luckier I get. That just about sums it up
Steve64k
exackly what iv been thinking for weeks! its baggies fans that are doing my head in at the min! all there on about is how lucky we are! load of b0ll0cks! UP THE VILLA!
aaron_villa87
i reckon we've been fairly lucky, but I believe that MON has had the whole squad rubbing Friedel's head in the tunnel before the game, so i;m crediting it to MON's great planning again...
YatesyVillain
We`ve had just as much bad luck as good luck, why wasn`t Cisse sent off for instance as it was as bad as Ash`s tackle.
ASPINALL
We are playing the percentages at the moment. MON is happy to give other teams possession because he knows that our defence is good enough to not let them score (unlike last season.) He also knows that our attack is good enough to score every game at least once. We are only winning by the odd goal but so are Manure and we would attack more if we weren't winning at the time. We were third top scorers in the league last year and we weren't classed as lucky then but now we have a decent defence and keeper we are riding high.
Villan444
yes villan444, thats his tactic. play the midfielders deep. make a fortress as a defence, literally. and once we get the ball, our counter attacking will take the whole opposition by surprise. the key is to leave a big hole in the middle of the field. ive noticed this in alot of Villa games. teams fall in this trap =/
Gruck
The General summed it up nicely in his forum thread. It was in fact the wise words of his late father who said, "THE HARDER YOU WORK, THE LUCKIER YOU GET!" Credit to all connected with the club for the hard work they continue to put in and because of this, any "luck" that we are getting is throughly deserved!!
bazzah
Well said bazzah
greyhound
I dont see what the problem in saying you have ridden your luck. It does not take away from how well you have been playing. You can try to rubbish oppinions, but the fact you have had 5 O.GS in last 7/8 games, penalties which could of gone either way(First foul outside box, Not much contact with Gallas etc) and a referee reversing his decision based on the linesman(video technology) must partly go down to being fortunate. We(arsenal) have ridden our luck to in a few games, should of conceded a penalty against Hull & Middlesbrough and a couple of offside goals. Villas luck just seems to be happening all in a row which is why people are mentioning it. 4th Place battle will go right to the wire with the possibility of us both finishing above Chelsea.
paul_ownz
I owe you a pint. Great read.
evoflash
 

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