In the aftermath of a ninth loss in 11 Premier League matches for Aston Villa, withering assessments of their survival chances this season are easy to make.
But even the most pessimistic of Villa fans must have comforted themselves that hope is not abandoned following a rousing second-half rally against Tottenham on Monday night.
The 3-1 scoreline certainly told a substantial part of the story at White Hart Lane and Villa’s collective ineptitude during the opening 45 minutes in particular, showed the Midlands clubs are not in a false position at the foot of the table.
Taking the second period in isolation though, which was 1-0 to Villa until a classic sucker punch from Spurs at the death, and chinks of light are visible at the end of the tunnel.
As new manager Remi Garde looked on from the stands in probable despair by the time Spurs had doubled their advantage on the cusp of half-time, come the final whistle the Frenchman must have left the Lane in far more optimistic mood.
Villa suddenly found some cohesion going forward, where the pace of Scott Sinclair and goal scorer Jordan Ayew proved a real thorn in Tottenham’s side and Rudy Gestede’s introduction offered genuine threat in place of the highly ineffectual Gabby Agbonlahor.
Although they were caught out in the final moments through a slick Spurs counter, the combined top-flight experience offered by Joleon Lescott, Alan Hutton and Kieran Richardson in the back four helped nullify an attack which had run them ragged in the first period.
This was only the third time all season that the men in claret and blue had lost by more than a single goal in the league.
Holding midfielder Carlos Sanchez showed he can be very effective in front of Villa’s rearguard as well.
Although some recent signings have so far failed to make the grade, the raw materials of a side decent enough to stay in the division looked to be present.
Much will depend on Garde’s tactics going forward and his ability to strengthen in a few key areas in January, but when looking at the likes of Sunderland, hit for six at the weekend, and a Bournemouth side backpedalling badly, Villa are in no way cut off.
Hefty cracks are opening up at Norwich too and with the Canaries losing four straight in the league and only five points ahead in 16th, Villa actually look good value at 9/5 to stay up from this low ebb.
The only other side who are odds-against are Sunderland and Villa’s squad looks a lot deeper than those they are in direct competition with.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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