With three successive hammerings, there’s been little Christmas cheer for Paul Lambert and Aston Villa this festive period.
Their 8-0 thumping at Chelsea has been followed by two home defeats, 4-0 to Spurs and arguably the worst of the lot, Saturday’s 3-0 loss to relegation rivals Wigan.
Much has been made about Villa’s defensive errors that have seen them ship in 15 goals, though less focus has revolved around another alarming factor – they’ve failed to score once in each of their defeats.
The slump is all the more surprising given that Villa’s season looked to be on the up only two weeks ago, when a 4-1 League Cup quarter-final win against Norwich was followed by a hugely impressive 3-1 win at Anfield. Before that, they had kept three clean sheets in four.
Following their latest home loss, however – which included some fans heading for the exit in the 56th minute after Arouna Kone had notched Wigan’s third of the afternoon – Villa are lying just one point above the drop zone and Lambert’s young side desperately need an injection of confidence and know-how.
The old saying goes that teams “can’t buy a goal at the minute” but Lambert may feel he doesn’t need to. Instead he may look to the man his owner decided to spend £24m on two years ago, Darren Bent.
Bent is currently nursing a hamstring injury but should be fit for the New Year. The England striker is a proven goalscorer at Premier League level, having consistently scored for all of his previous clubs.
Much has been speculated regarding why Bent has featured so little under Lambert, having played only 11 times this season, scoring three times. It’s why he’s been strongly linked to moves away from Villa Park in January, with Fulham the latest club said to be keen to buy the unsettled striker.
Whatever his differences with Bent, Lambert may decide to cut his ties in the summer instead, and utilise Bent’s experience and undoubted goalscoring prowess to propel his side safely away from the dropzone. Villa are currently fourth favourites to go down at 6/4, behind Reading (1/7), QPR (4/9) and Southampton (8/11).
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.