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33 down, 5 to go


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33 down, 5 to go

With 33 games gone in our 38 game league campaign, Villa find themselves in a 3 way battle for the lone Intertoto spot along with Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City. We take a look at the 5 remaining fixtures.

Let's start off by saying that Portsmouth are not in this race. Portsmouth have not applied for the Intertoto Cup and as such it does not matter if they finish 6th or whether they win or lose the FA Cup. If they win the FA Cup they get the UEFA place. If they lose the FA Cup then they still get the UEFA place and Cardiff will get a wildcard from UEFA.

The bottom line is, the race for the Intertoto is solely between Villa, Blackburn & Citeh.

Here's the current state of play.

P W D L F A Pt GD

Aston Villa 33 14 10 9 56 44 52 +12

Blackburn 33 13 12 8 43 39 51 +4

Man City 33 13 10 10 37 39 49 -2

We are currently in pole position with a draw and goal difference over Blackburn and a win and goal difference over Citeh.

Our remaining fixtures are as follows

Wk ASTON VILLA BLACKBURN MAN CITY

-------------------------------------------------------------

34 Derby Cty Away Liverpool Away Sunderland Away

35 Small Heath Home Man Utd Home Pompey Home

36 Everton Away Pompey Away Fulham Home

37 Wigan Home Derby Cty Home Liverpool Away

38 West Ham Away Small Heath Away Boro Away

We all have 2 home games left. They are all winnable apart from Blackburn's game against Man Utd which they can't reasonably expect to take 3 points from.

Current form has us 16th in the table with Man City 17th and Blackburn 9th.

The critical thing for us is the fact that Blackburn's next 2 fixtures are extremely difficult. It is not unreasonable to think that they could pick up no points from either game. Going to Anfield with Liverpool trying to secure 4th place and entertaining a title-chasing Man Utd is the last thing you want when chasing something yourself. We, on the other hand, would surely be expected to beat Derby (especially bearing in mind our impressive outing against Bolton). The game against the 'noses will be huge and although it is a derby and nothing can be taken for granted, I'd like to think that at home we will have too much for them - although as you'll see later even a draw would, mathematically at least, not be a total disaster.

So it is entirely possible that going into our week 36 fixture in Goodison Park we could have a 7 point advantage over Blackburn. Man City are not out of the equation at all either. If they can navigate their way past a tricky trip to the Stadium of Light against an in-form Sunderland, they have 2 consecutive home games. The first against a Pompey team with more important things on their mind who will perhaps not use their strongest team and one against a Fulham team who look all but doomed now (and are playing as such). If Man City can get 6 points from those 3 games that puts them on 55pts with us on 58 pending the Everton game. You would not expect Citeh to win the Liverpool game in week 37 and you would definitely expect Blackburn to win the Derby County game. Our final home game against Wigan might be a tight affair, with Wigan (courtesy of Steve Bruce, remember him?) playing some good stuff at present.

So EVEN IF we lose the Everton game (and I am now resigned to fighting for the Intertoto as opposed to a straight UEFA spot through the league) and let's take a worst case scenario of a draw against Wigan (surely we wouldn't lose that game?), the league table going into the final day would look like this

P W D L F A Pt GD

Aston Villa 37 16 11 10 -- -- 59 ??

Blackburn 37 14 13 10 -- -- 55 ??

Man City 37 15 10 12 -- -- 55 ??

Now remember the table above is based on us losing to Everton and drawing with Wigan while beating the noses & Derby. It is based on Blackburn losing to Liverpool & Man Utd, drawing away at Pompey and beating Derby and it is based on Man City beating Fulham, losing to Liverpool and picking up a total of 3pts from the Sunderland & Pompey games.

If that all plays out then the issue will have been sorted before the final game. I don't think those results are too fanciful.

But it is essential that we pick up at least 7pts from the Derby, noses & Wigan games no matter in what order the 7pts arrive. If they do come, then I feel the games against Everton and West Ham will be academic in the race for the Intertoto Cup.

It does assume that the big boys (Liverpool & Man Utd) play their part though. If they dont, then we could be hoping for small heath alliance to do us a favour on the final day by taking points off Blackburn at the Sty.

All in all though, the fixture schedule has been kind to us and we look like we might just reap the rewards in the closing weeks of the season.

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Good analysis, BOF.

However, I reckoned after Christmas that it was quite likely that Villa could finish with 67 points, and that is still technically possible.

Whilst I would agree that 67 is a bit unlikely now, I still reckon on more than 60 - perhaps 62 or 63.

But - that's me; always opti!

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Good analysis, BOF.

However, I reckoned after Christmas that it was quite likely that Villa could finish with 67 points, and that is still technically possible.

Whilst I would agree that 67 is a bit unlikely now, I still reckon on more than 60 - perhaps 62 or 63.

But - that's me; always opti!

Yes good post Brian, breaks it down in an easy to understand way.

John my old friend where have you been? I too think we'll finish with more than 60 points and that will be four victories and a defeat to 64.

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Yes after our return to form against bolton we are in pole position to enter the intertwobob. Citeh are not a good side and Blackburn's tough run means If we don't get 7th spot we have only ourselves to blame (and carson :winkold:)

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John my old friend where have you been? I too think we'll finish with more than 60 points and that will be four victories and a defeat to 64.

Where have I been??? Ah, waiting for the Chrstmas Card from you that never came, dear sir! :winkold:

In reality, I'm busy writin' me book - it's getting close to the end, thank goodness!

Anyway, it's good to see we pretty well agree on something!!!

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John & Richard, that 59pts is with 37 games played. The game against West Ham could still push us over the 60 making you right. The point I was making was that it may not be necessary but it could still happen.

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John & Richard, that 59pts is with 37 games played. The game against West Ham could still push us over the 60 making you right. The point I was making was that it may not be necessary but it could still happen.

I don't think either of us were saying you were wrong, BOF, only just indicating our own preferances, and that the results just might come out in a different way than your forecast.

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Well MON wants 5 wins from 5 games:

OS Story

MON: Gimme Five

MONMartin O'Neill has set Villa a daunting target of five wins from five as the season enters what looks sure to be a dramatic final stretch.

Wins against Derby, Birmingham, Everton, Wigan and West Ham would take Villa's points tally to an impressive 67.

O'Neill hopes that would be enough to secure European football next season and told www.avfc.co.uk: "If we're going to still eke out European football this season and maybe even catch Everton, though that's probably a fanciful notion, we would need to win every single game.

"If we could post that number of points (67) which would be phenomenal, we'd give ourselves a chance. We've got to finish ahead of the pack that's around us to have any notion about qualifying for Europe - even if it's through the Intertoto.

"Obviously the Bolton win has given us renewed hope, renewed vigour and determination. I suppose confidence has come back to the side.

"If we are going to do something between now and the end of the season, obviously there's little room for error - there can be no slip-ups."

O'Neill hopes Saturday's return to winning ways can kickstart a final push from Villa but after the recent dip in form knows better than to take anything for granted.

He added: "It's hard to explain after our performance at Arsenal just how mediocre we were for a few games - especially at home.

"Sunderland and Middlesbrough at home were really disappointing. Now Middlesbrough have gone onto show they're a decent side. Their confidence is high again.

"But it was hard to take because we were getting ourselves going. We were desperately unlucky at Arsenal and the previous week we'd beaten Reading at Reading. We were ready for it and that bitterly disappointed me.

"But now we've got ourselves going again, the targets are still there and they can still be reached. We've got to go for it.

"There were a lot of great things about Saturday's game that augurs well. But go back a few weeks, I came back after the Arsenal game and I thought we were absolutely right for the Middlesbrough game.

"I know there was a 10-day break and in retrospect that might have been a bit too long, but that's absolutely no excuse. We should have been ready for that game and we weren't.

"Middlesbrough's performances recently have been terrific and they showed what a very fine side they are against Manchester United on Sunday. But we should have been really up for those games and should have had a few more points on the board.

"But I don't think in this game you can look back and think 'if only', you've just got to get yourself prepared for it.

"We know we can make very few mistakes between now and the end of the season, but I was absolutely delighted with everything on Saturday."

Villa's Remaining Games

April 12: Derby (away)

April 20: Birmingham (home)

April 27: Everton (away)

May 3: Wigan (home)

May 11: West Ham (away)

so do you not think we will get the automatic UEFA spot?

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the fixture schedule has been kind to us and we look like we might just reap the rewards in the closing weeks of the season

Not a criticism of your excellent article, BOF, and I agree that the 2nd half of the season has been 'easier', but we made our own 'luck' with good results against good teams earlier in the season. If we hadn't done so well in the 'harder' first half, we wouldn't be where we are now. So well done MON and the team! :clap:

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even a draw would, mathematically at least, not be a total disaster

Too near to one for me BOF. :winkold: I think 2 wins from our next 2 games would be enough to stay above these two clubs (although I seem to recall the game at Fulham being another one we expected to win). Thanks for making things so clear.

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so do you not think we will get the automatic UEFA spot?

No.

(and I am now resigned to fighting for the Intertoto as opposed to a straight UEFA spot through the league)
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Citeh may qualify for Europe via the Fair play standings, England currently top the table and Citeh are 6th in the league behind Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spuds and Man Utd, assuming all of those qualify for Europe and England are still top of the standings then Citeh will get the place, meaning we wouldn't need to finish above them for the Intertonto place.

Uefa Fair Play League: In order to be eligible for one of the three places available via the Fair Play League, an association must score an average of over eight. The top association gets a Uefa Cup place, while all other associations with an average of over eight (there are currently eight) are placed into a ballot.

England are currently top of the Fair Play League. If they win the Uefa Cup place, it is given to the team placed highest in the Premier League Fair Play League that has not qualified by other means.

please use short links

I think we can beat Everton though and finish 5th, Everton have Arsenal away and Chelski at home and I can't see them getting any points from those games, so 15 points from our last 5, should give us 5th.

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That's correct MadridVillan, thanks for adding it. Which makes Blackburn's next 2 fixtures (if it was possible) even MORE important for us.

I do wonder how close the next FA is to England in the standings because if England don't finish top then they go into a draw like we did last year.

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