[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the best sub-plots of the season is that of Villa’s story. The first half of the season I can imagine was almost intolerable for most Villa fans, seeing Paul Lambert’s side score 12 league goals from 25 games, the lowest in Premier League history.
No key players were performing, the football was drab, the team scored an incredibly low amount of goals and the pressure built up to a point where on the 11th of February, Lambert was fired after a disappointing 2-0 loss at fellow strugglers Hull City.
All seemed lost for the Villains, it looked as if they were going down in what would be their most dismal season in the top flight to date.
Then, along came Tim Sherwood, former Spurs boss and Villa’s poor season took a change for the better when Christian Benteke converted a winning last-minute penalty against rivals West Brom.
Only four days later, Villa repeated the feat at Villa Park against the Baggies, sending them to the FA Cup semi-finals and the fans into raptures, prompting a pitch invasion.
Benteke really hit form in the business end of the season, scoring 9 in the final 10 games of the season, and helping Sherwood’s side no end in their bid to avoid relegation, not to mention the on-loan Tom Cleverley who proved doubters wrong in the Villa midfield.
It was then semi-final day at Wembley where Aston Villa put in one of the performances of the season against heavily favoured Liverpool, where young star Jack Grealish and England midfielder Fabian Delph shone in their 2-1 triumph.
Things were looking even better as the end of the season approached, with Sherwood calming Villa nerves by steering them from relegation with vital wins against former employers – Spurs, West Ham and Everton.
It all looked set up to be the turn-around of the season, with Aston Villa facing FA Cup holders Arsenal at Wembley in the final – after all it was Arsenal’s cup to lose.
Some quietly favoured Villa after their mostly excellent performances in the league and their battling performance against Liverpool in the semi-finals, others were sceptical after their unusual 6-1 drubbing at high-flying Southampton.
The latter proved to be right, as Villa put in one of the most uninspired Cup final performances in recent years, with the Gunners putting four past Shay Given.
Whilst it has to be said that Villa were very poor in the final, their opponents – Arsenal were magnificent, notably Alexis Sánchez, scoring one of the best FA Cup final goals to date.
However, Villa fans can look upon this season with a mixture of feelings, obviously disappointment in their terrible start to the season and their thrashing in the final, whilst also being proud of the strong end of the season and their excellent cup run.
If Aston Villa can hold on to the young talent of Jack Grealish, workhorse and captain Fabian Delph and prolific striker Christian Benteke, we can expect Sherwood’s side to be far higher up the table next season.
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