A look at the monumental challenge Aston Villa face to avoid relegation
Published 14/12/2015 | 12:56
Aston Villa are marooned at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League table after Sunday's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.
They are eight points from safety and have not won in the league since the opening day of the season.
Remi Garde replaced Tim Sherwood in November but is yet to win and here, Press Association Sport looks at Villa's seemingly impossible task for survival.
The club signed 13 new players in the summer and spent a reported £50million but it has not helped. No-one doubted they did not need an overhaul after four barren years but the strategy was misguided.
They needed quality and experience to replace Christian Benteke, Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph but only Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards had serious top-flight know-how and even the former England duo have slumped this season.
Jordan Amavi's season-ending injury last month was unfortunate but Rudy Gestede has not impressed with Jordan Ayew, Jordan Veretout and Idrissa Gana struggling to adapt after moving from France. Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori has not played while Adama Traore, who signed for 12m euros from Barcelona, is yet to start in the league.
With Villa cut adrift at the bottom, who will want to join them in January?
LACK OF INVESTMENT
Villa have been sleep walking to relegation for the past five years. They have battled against the drop and survived by the skin of their teeth since owner Randy Lerner decided to curb the spending. The recognition they needed investment was what forced them into their ill-advised business in the summer.
Former boss Paul Lambert had to rely on bargain buys in Nicklas Helenius, Aleksandar Tonev, Karim El Ahmadi and Antonio Luna, all of whom flopped.
Only Benteke, a £7million signing from Genk in 2012, and Vlaar can be labelled a success and while Lambert's buys of Ashley Westwod, Jores Okore and Leandro Bacuna are still at the club they lack the quality to keep Villa in the Premier League.
Villa are the joint lowest scorers in the top-flight with Stoke having netted just 13 times after Sunday's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.
Gestede, Ayew and Scott Sinclair have scored eight league goals between them this season while Gabby Agbonlahor has not netted since March. Agbonlahor, Villa's record Premier League scorer and current longest serving player, was left out of the squad against Arsenal with boss Remi Garde insisting he needs to do more to return after injury.
When Villa needed goals to survive last season they had a reinvigorated Benteke to turn to but now there is nothing to suggest their current strikers can bail them out.
Wantaway owner Lerner's decision to sell in 2014 - and failure so far - has left a void at the top. Lerner said if he could not find a new owner he would step down as chairman but he remains in the position while staying in America.
Chief executive Tom Fox is only in his second year in the role while sporting director Hendrik Almstadt and director of scouting and recruitment Paddy Riley have justifiably come under the spotlight for their roles in Villa's summer transfers.
There was internal tension while Sherwood was at the club and he hinted several times not all of the signings were his. Replacement Garde is in his first job in England and has not had enough time to make a serious mark yet, even if his composure has impressed.
On the pitch experienced players Brad Guzan, Richards and Lescott have failed to inspire and the foreign buys have not adapted. Home-grown hopeful Jack Grealish is yet to impact on games and has already been disciplined for partying after defeat to Everton last month. It is a club struggling from top to bottom.
Villa have not won at home in the league in 218 days since they beat West Ham 1-0 in May.
Since 2011-12, including this season, they have won just 20 out of 84 home league games. It is just 83 points from a possible 252 and underlines why they have battled the drop for so many seasons.
They have also lost at home to Leyton Orient, Sheffield United and suffered an embarrassing aggregate defeat to Bradford in the League Cup semi final in 2013. Villa Park has not been a happy hunting ground for a long time and the hosts are easy pickings.
No team in Premier League history has survived at this stage of the season with the amount of points Villa have now. They have won just six points and are currently on a club record 15-match winless run in the league.
Villa have the same amount of points as Derby did at this stage when the Rams were relegated with a record-low total of 11 in 2007-08. Garde has only managed his squad for just over a month but time is running out already.