Aston Villa may rue missed opportunity to create breathing space

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Disaster may have been averted thanks to Christian Benteke’s hat-trick sealing free-kick seven minutes from time to peg QPR back to 3-3, but make no bones about it these are squeaky-bum times for Aston Villa fans.

“To not win after a one-sided football match was very disappointing,” said Villa chief Tim Sherwood in his post-match interview.

During his short time as a Premier League gaffer we’ve become accustomed to this sort of defiant rhetoric, despite his side twice having to come from behind at Villa Park to salvage a draw.

As it is, the Midlands outfit moved one place above Hull, who have played a game less, while the gap remains three points to QPR in the first relegation spot, where the Londoners have leapfrogged Burnley on goal difference only.

It won’t escape Sherwood’s attention that the Clarets also have one more opportunity than his side to collect points in the run-in, which, for Villa, is starting to take on an ominous shape.

Odds of 2/1 to be relegated reflect just how dicey things have become, especially in light of the “injury crisis” Sherwood highlighted before and after the QPR encounter.

With an FA Cup semi-final sure to take the collective eye off the ball as well, a shortage in numbers is the last thing the Villans need as the scrap intensifies.

Three of the current top seven in the table are still on the menu for Villa away from home, starting with trips to Tottenham and Manchester City next up, before Southampton lie in wait in their penultimate fixture.

An Everton side which has rediscovered their mojo with three wins in as many league games also feature, while West Ham at home looks like the only real breather before Burnley visit for a potential relegation play-off on the final day.

Benteke’s return to his best form is a massive plus, though Villa could live to regret the opportunity to extend the gap between themselves and QPR come the final shakedown.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.