Aston Villa enter into another game that they can likely afford to lose, but with the results of the weekend going very much their way an unexpected result would be a massive boost to their survival hopes.
So it turns out this season is still happening. Who knew? It really doesn't feel like it, to be honest. I kind of felt like after that win over West Ham, this was all going to go away for a few months. That would have been swell. But no, there's somehow still eleven games remaining, and today's clash against defending champions Manchester City could potentially give us all an excuse to stop paying as much attention to this godawful team as we're currently obligated.
Of course, the odds are very much against that. Manchester City is quite clearly a much better team than Villa, as evidenced by their standing as defending champions as well as their stratospheric wage bill. Manchester City is actually good at football, you see, which gives them a pretty big edge on Villa. Roberto Mancini's side has clearly under-performed expectations, currently sitting second behind rivals Manchester United by a margin of 15 points and just two points ahead of third-placed Spurs, but their talent is clearly in another stratosphere when compared to Villa.
Of course, that talent gap hasn't always mattered this season. Villa's 4-2 extra time win in the League Cup was the first real sign of the season that Everything Is Going To Be Okay, and though things didn't quite turn out the way we'd all hoped there's at least a proof of concept. And it isn't as though City dropping points to bottom-feeding teams would be all that out of place; as recently as three weeks ago City fell 3-1 to Southampton, and their 1-0 loss to Sunderland in December was one of the earliest signals of the futility of their title defense.
And of course, there was also the 5-0 over Villa the last time out in league play, but we're trying to be positive here, right? And in that vein, This isn't really a game Villa needs to take anything from. Results broke favorably this weekend, and nothing that happens tonight is going to move Villa any lower in the table than they are right now.
But there's that nagging, optimistic voice (god am I sick of that voice) that looks at the state of things and sees that a Villa win bring the club level on points with Southampton and move them three points clear of the relegation zone. And to be clear, it could happen. And it would be neat if it did! But it probably won't, because City is really good and Villa is pretty bad. And if it doesn't, that's probably okay. The big games, the ones Villa really needs to win, get going next weekend. Anything they take from this one is just gravy. Delicious, rich, decadent gravy (I need to stop writing before diner) but gravy nonetheless. And eve a win guarantees nothing.
So, let's not get too high or too low based on what happens in this game. It's become a habit of Villa fans of late to predict glory and/or doom dependent upon the most recent result, and that's just silly. We're in a one-day-at-a-time kind of reality right now, and when you have a bad day do you go buy a fifth of vodka and lock yourself in the bedroom while listening to Joy Division on repeat? Well, okay, maybe that's not the best example because that doesn't sound too bad, but my point is that you shouldn't dwell on this result.
Now, if we lose to Reading, that's a different story. But let's not worry about that just yet. One day at a time, and all.