Something For The Weekend (275)
Cloud cuckoo land - all flights cancelled or delayed!
It seemed I was not alone in feeling a bit of optimism fatigue this week, as Villa's hoped-for charge into the top four, on the back of a series of very winnable-looking fixtures petered out with a couple of sweaty draws.
Villa's Duracell bunnies gradually ground to a halt in the mud and mayhem of March - nothing new there then.
Did we ever quite believe it? And did they?
As the Villa legs finally gave out and Milner, Heskey and Dunne ground to a halt, the fans were left to look enviously across to the capital where Spurs seem to have, not so much a substitute bench, as a conveyor-belt full of expensive, if ill-matched forwards, which rendered Defoe's hamstring injury seemingly unimportant. Or, seeking a more philosophical explanation for the Spurs' mauling of Fulham, no team can defy the inevitable wear and tear of a hectic season for ever, not even Fulham.
One lucky shot from Bentley and the sap drained from cottagers' legs - their best party ever, was over.
Not many Villa fans are quite ready to pack up their emotional tents and give up just yet, as there is that semi-final coming up but with Villa already four points adrift of Tottenham in the table, that dreamed of place amongst the elite, seems as far off as ever it was.
When Liverpool have an off-year, you had better make the most of it.
With Villa still unbeaten in 2010 and the goals-against column being the same as the team in red at the top, no finger should be pointed at Villa's defence (unless you want it broken off), and even the midfield provides enough crosses to stock a Vatican souvenir shop, the failure seems to be about Villa's inability to score enough goals.
With Gabby leading the way with eleven and Carew in slight danger of getting into double-figures (fingers crossed), the holy grail of goals galore still looks a long way off.
Heskey's three in twenty-five appearances is not the form usually associated with a top striker but no one can accuse him of letting anyone down because he's done about the same for every club he's been at, so the lettering on the tin is clearly written in bold for everyone to see. Same goes for John Carew who has scored a ratio of one-in-three at just about every club he's played for, even when he was winning championships in Spain and France.
So we are left to count up the misses and play our game of ifs and maybes but every one of Villa's rivals for that coveted fourth spot, have a striker in the mid-teens in the Premiership goal-scoring charts - Defoe (Spurs), Tevez (Man City), Torres (Liverpool). True and thorough Villa analysts will say that if you take off the five Defoe scored against Wigan, then his performance is not really that much better than Villa's Gabby. But overall, Defoe's stats for Portsmouth and Spurs are now greater than one-in-two.
No doubt MON the maestro would tell us not to get carried away with how many individuals score and would point to Sunderland where Darren Bent has knocked in twenty goals and remind us there is a lack of goals in the rest of the squad. And, as Torres proves, when a team relies entirely on one player for goals, that player better not get injured.
Okay, so I am grasping at straws but the conclusion seems to be, that Villa are slightly out-gunned by their immediate rivals at the moment.
In the meantime, as I await Nathan Delfouneso to come off the bench to score a hattrick against Chelsea and announce his greatness to the world, I look for consolation.
Thank goodness that Birmingham have started to lose a game or two. I have found their success a little wearing, even though I was happy the see Villa old-boy Gardner score the other week. Having to admit that Alex McLeish is doing a fine job, to the bluenoses of my acquaintance, has not been a pleasant duty to fulfil. Seeing a happy bluenose on too many cold Monday mornings, is not what I would call a treat. Admitting that it might have been the Brady bunch which brought the Blues so low and not the ancient gypsy curse, has stuck in my craw like a fish-hook. Accepting the possibility that they might qualify for Europe was too painful for too long.
And Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the saints - the buggers looked like they might get to Wembley at one point.
So as can be seen I have had some joys and a measure of misery, just lately.
But win, lose or draw at Stamford Bridge on Saturday - I'll just have a consolation or celebration jar and I'll be down drinking at the bar.
And ever was it so.
Keep the faith!
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