When Tim Sherwood calls Aston Villa’s clash with QPR the “the club’s biggest match for years”, he probably hasn’t flicked too far back in the Villans’ history books.
In cup competitions there was the League Cup final appearance in 2010 that rivals this Tuesday night encounter for stature, while the side will return to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final later this month.
Naturally a league game against one of your bitter relegation rivals is an important occasion and wins for Sunderland, Leicester and QPR at the weekend only heaped greater pressure on the match at Villa Park.
But even this isn’t the first instance of late-season dog-fighting fans of the Midlands club have endured recently.
In both of the previous two campaigns, Villa have come up against fellow drop-threatened units late on in the campaign, when a win was paramount to their survival.
Luckily the men in claret and blue have come out on top both times, making the 11/10 about a Villa win this time around extremely appealing.
Last term they met Hull in the third-last game of the season. At the time, Paul Lambert’s side sat just three points ahead of the relegation zone and were feeling the pinch after recent wins for fellow strugglers Sunderland and West Brom.
Happily, Ashley Westwood and a Andreas Weimann double earned them a vital three points in a 3-1 win over the Tigers, significant enough to allow the Villans to lose their final two games of the campaign and still finish 15th.
The year prior to that, Lambert was again struggling in 17th place before hosting the Black Cats in the penultimate home game of the season.
Two points were all that separated Villa from the dreaded dotted line, before a completely unexpected 6-1 thrashing ensued, thanks to a Christian Benteke hat-trick.
Another win after that mauling was enough to propel the Villa Park side up to 13th, before a last day draw with Wigan ensured the familiar finish of 15th.
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