Things are, as the kids like to say, about to get real.
All season long, there's been a sense that, no matter what's gone down as of yet, there was still time to salvage things. Three-game winlesss stretch to begin the season? Still 35 left. Lost 8-0 to Chelsea? Well, we beat Liverpool last week, so we can recover. The rest of December? Well, that sucked. But hey, at least QPR is bad, right?
Like I said, there's always been an out. And so long as Villa managed to win and/or draw often enough to keep the dream alive, it was easy to put that anxiety off for another day. But we've finally run out of time, friends. We're to that very unpleasant point. Aston Villa need to start winning games,
They need to start winning games largely because they're playing bad teams. The past few weeks have been something of a nice respite, because no one expected much of anything from Villa. And they've responded nicely, turning in solid performances in spite of an inability to turn said performances into points.
And that's really the crux of the issue. This team has done a pretty good job of keeping pace with the better sides in the league, but when they've been challenged with tough fixtures against similarly challenged sides they've struggled. There's little doubt in my mind that if Villa can turn in the kind of performance against Reading that they'll be in very good shape. But that's a big if.
In all honesty, I don't really know what to expect. I've whole-heartedly bought into the idea of not paying attention to the relegation battle until required to do so. And now that it's here, well, who the hell knows. This is a game Villla ought to win. I think. My usual optimism is worthless here.