Sunday 4 December 2016

Villa already look doomed to start next season in the Championship

Sunderland 3-1 Aston Villa

Alan O'Brien

Published 03/01/2016 | 02:30

Sunderland's Patrick Van Aanholt celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 2, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Sunderland. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or
Sunderland's Patrick Van Aanholt celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 2, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Sunderland. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Sunderland's Duncan Watmore (right) and Aston Villa's Aly Cissokho battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 2, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Sunderland. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Sunderland's Billy Jones (left) and Aston Villa's Leandro Bacuna battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 2, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Sunderland. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Sunderland striker Jermaine Defoe shoots to score the second Sunderland goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Aston Villa at Stadium of Light on January 2, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

There were around a dozen of them, Aston Villa supporters, stood around the team bus onto which filed the club's players, after another defeat, their 14th of the season. 'You're not fit to wear the shirt,' was the song they were serenaded with. It felt right. The latest loss stretched the gap to second bottom of the Premier League table to seven points. The promised land of fourth from bottom a gigantic 11 points away. Aston Villa will start life next season in the Championship, unless there is some sort of footballing miracle.

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Micah Richards scored Sunderland's first, needlessly attempting to block a shot from Patrick van Aanholt that was flying wide of the Aston Villa goal. He instead steered it past his own goalkeeper. Joleon Lescott gave Jermain Defoe too much space in the 72nd minute - by which point Remi Garde's side had somehow scored a fantastic goal through Carles Gil, and in that blink of an eye the former England forward struck a sweet shot into the corner of Guzan's goal.

In injury-time, Leandro Bacuna threw the ball to Defoe before Guzan passed to Lee Cattermole, the Sunderland midfielder. It looked as bad as it sounds. From the throw-in that Cattermole won, Defoe added the third. Only then did Sam Allardyce celebrate, raising his arms into the air in triumph. It was the definition of a must-win game but the situation remains bleak.

"It's dire, still, don't worry about that," said Allardyce. "We're a long way off getting safe. We're a relegation-threatened side. In terms of resilience and picking up points we have to go on a run of games where we're undefeated, get draws and the odd win. We can not afford to lose four or five on the trot again. The win does not change the fact we need to get payers in. I'll do my very best to get that quality player in."

Garde correctly spoke of a lack of quality in his team. "It's like in every game, we're missing quality sometimes," he said. "In football we are not able to put our opponent under pressure for a long time. This is a position where you have to use a lot of strength and you lose some strength. We had a target (six points over Christmas). We didn't achieve it but there is still light in front of us. There are games to play. We only have one direction, to be fair, and that is to work more and to fight to try to win games. You never know in football. I feel that the players deserve better than we have currently." The club's supporters did not agree.

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