Brad Guzan
Just watching the ball go round: Brad Guzan shows he’s human after all

Damn the schedulers. After our flying start (Four games undefeated! If you don’t count the League Cup loss to Leyton Orient! Third place in the league!) Villa’s momentum has ground to a shuddering halt with five games in a row against last year’s top five teams. First Liverpool, then Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Everton. We nicked a goal and three points against Liverpool and then went 0-for-the-rest-of-the-top-five while making our bed with four clean sheets for the other teams.

I mean, just look at the way our last five opponents ended last season
I mean, just look at the way our last five opponents ended last season

I was philosophical about the losses to Arsenal, Chelsea, and City but had hoped for at least a point against Everton. Even though Everton is obviously better than this year’s table position has suggested (they were 17th before the game), we were struggling, they were struggling—why couldn’t we both struggle to a draw?

Alas, it was not to be, and our current lack of threat in front of the net reminds me of another dire stretch last year. In fact, if my calculations are correct, since Gabby’s ninth-minute tally against Liverpool, it has now been 441 minutes, or or 7 hours and 21 minutes, since we found the back of the net. Unless we score in the first nine minutes this weekend, we’re going to do last year’s seven-and-a-half hour goal drought one better.

We were struggling, they were struggling—
why couldn’t we both struggle to a draw?

Given our start to the season, I had been looking at the QPR fixture next Monday as a get-well game, a chance to regain form against a bottom feeder after a tough run of five. And yes, QPR is sitting dead last, but after watching the fight they showed in a wild game against Liverpool, I wouldn’t put it past us to drop more points. Yes, Liverpool beat them in the end, and we’ve beaten Liverpool, but I’m still anything but sanguine. With Delph out, Senderos, and Baker out, we’re likely to see Ciaran Clark in action again, so we’re bound to see more misadventures on the back line. We need a big response from the rest of the team and we need it now.

Here’s an idea! Maybe we can shave Roy Keane, style and mousse his hair, and sneak him onto the field—we could say he’s Jack Grealish’s big brother or, better, uncle—and let him bark orders from midfield? Who knows, he might even get us a goal!

Right, right, I know. No one’s touching Roy’s beard—or anything else.