Football has changed a lot over the last few years, but one thing that’ll never change is the feeling of elation when your team gains promotion to the league above – and beyond that, nothing quite compares to the feeling of getting promoted to the actual top flight of football in your country.
Now, as reported by BBC, Aston Villa are just one game away from returning to that pinnacle after they were able to defeat Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns last night. It wasn’t a masterful display by any stretch of the imagination and Villa fans themselves will be the first ones to tell you that, but in the end, that doesn’t really matter. The only statistic that’s going to mean anything when it’s all said and done (which it is) is the penalty shootout.
Overcoming a scare
Villa were taken to that stage courtesy of a resilient performance from the Baggies, who had to fight back from a 2-1 deficit they sustained at Villa Park in the first leg. They looked good throughout the course of the return fixture, right up until Chris Brunt’s red card which changed the landscape of the entire game.
The visitors got the job done, and now, Wembley awaits. As reported by Birmingham Mail they’re now widely considered to be the favourites to win the play-offs as a whole, but that can all obviously change depending on who wins tonight. You’d imagine Villa would prefer to take on Derby County in the final, but if it winds up being Leeds United, then that’ll be equally as enticing for them too. One of the primary reasons for that is due to their controversial meeting from just a few weeks ago, when a big bust-up over not kicking the ball out of play for an injury seemed to create a newly found rivalry between the two former European giants.
In terms of Villa themselves, though, it’s worth talking about how they’ve been able to pull themselves back from the brink over the course of the last twelve months.
They were given a huge setback this time last year at Wembley, when they were defeated by Fulham in the final. With a manager they weren’t big fans of as well as a squad that was still developing, questions were raised as to whether or not they’d be able to get back there the following season.
They’ve answered the call with a resounding yes, but of course, they can’t get ahead of themselves. Unlike when you lose an FA Cup or League Cup final, there isn’t a league position to fall back on here. It’s all or nothing for Villa as they’ll be well aware of, and if they drop the ball again, their big stars will almost certainly go elsewhere in search of top flight football.
There’s no guarantee of that but it would certainly seem like a logical step forward, especially for their main talisman Jack Grealish.
Can they get the job done? We’ll soon find out.