Ho many strikers are we going to be playing with from now on, Eck? (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
There's an update on the status of Darren Bent's injury, and it's not good. In fact, I'd go so far to say that it's about 90% of the way to being the worst news possible, with 100% being that he'd died after undergoing a poorly performed amputation. Ruptured ankle ligaments are really, really bad news because sometimes, even after recovery, a player is never quite the same again. Especially players that rely in large part on speed and quickness, which is certainly the case for Bent. That's not universally true, but it's sometimes true and until we see him back in action it's something about which we should be concerned.
The more pressing concern is of course this season; Villa's inability to get three points against Wigan kept them within reach of the bottom three, and the slate of games the rest of the way is not exactly a cakewalk. A lot of things still have to go very wrong for Villa and very right for several teams below them, but if you're not concerned you're crazy. In the space of three weeks Villa has lost their most potent attacking weapon and their only reasonably competent defender. This was already a mediocre team; at this point, given the manner in which the available players are utilized, it's an actively bad team.
What happens now is anyone's guess. I know I have my preference; a 4-3-3 with Gabby in the middle flanked by Albrighton and N'Zogbia makes all kinds of sense. Unfortunately, the odds of that happening are approximately zero percent. We could see a 4-4-2 with Gabby and Heskey central, a 4-5-1 with Heskey up top, a 4-5-1 with Heskey on the wing, or a 4-6-0 with Heskey playing holding midfield. Who knows? Point being, a team that needs all of the attacking help it can get to overcome the tactical failings of a hopelessly incompetent manager has just lost its best goalscorer, and none of the likely changes are going to do anything but make Villa worse. We're a team with a terrible defense that's going to rely on a terrible defense to get them through the season.
I'm not exactly Chicken Little, but for the first time since mid-winter of last season I'm actively worried about Villa going down. I still don't think it will happen, but the confidence with which I used to say that has vanished. I'd like to say the Bent and Dunne injuries are a worst-case scenario, but we've officially reached the point where that would just be tempting fate. If Alex McLeish is capable of adjusting his approach, this would be a tremendous time to do so.
Hang on kiddos, it's about to get terrifying.