BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 09: Andreas Weimann (left) of Aston Villa is congratulated after scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Stoke City at Villa Park on April 9, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
I...didn't watch this game. Not a minute of it. (Actually, that's a lie. I watched Andreas Weimann's goal approximately 37 times. But that was well after the fact.) This was particularly annoying because it was my first day back to work after a week of vacation, and it doesn't take long for the inability to do whatever the hell you want to become pretty irritating. Yeah, this wasn't the most intriguing match-up in football history, but I can almost guarantee it was better than wading through the 357 emails that awaited me this morning. But none of you care about that, and I can't say I blame you.
Anyways, the game; Andi Weimann scored a damned sexy early goal. Villa held on for a very long time. Robert Huth scored from a set-piece that reportedly never should have been. Villa had a couple of very good chances to win near the end, but couldn't make them count. Apparently a draw was a fair result. Chris Herd left on a stretcher after failing to stand up under his own power. A bit of a mixed bag, that.
Aside from the obvious caveat of hoping Herd is no worse for the wear (traumatic brain injuries are a very scary business) I can really only comment on the result. And as I said in the preview, I think a draw is an acceptable one. Not great, and were it November I'd probably feel differently, but at this late stage the only thing that really matters is making sure Villa remain in the top flight. This serves that goal. Not as well as a three points would have, but well enough. The gap is now seven points and four or five more from the rest of the season seems imminently reasonable. That's probably going to be more than enough, especially with two teams between Villa and the drop (one of which remains on the schedule.)
If it feels like we were in this same position a year ago, it's because we pretty much were. Probably safe, but not close enough for comfort, and hoping to all that is holy that something happens this off-season to give us confidence in a legitimate step forward by the time August rolls around. It's not an especially nice place to be, and with some very tough games to go the rest of the way it's likely going to stay that way. But in the grand scheme of things, a point from this one isn't so bad.