Aston Villa are staring relegation in the face.
They are currently two points from safety and, although they have a game in hand, there is little about their recent performances to indicate that they will be able to haul themselves clear of the bottom three.
Even after spending over £100m on new recruits last summer, there is almost nothing to show for it – although they did reach the League Cup final.
Should they drop down to the second tier, it would be the second time in four years in which they have been relegated – they finished bottom of Premier League during the 2015/16 season, picking up just 17 points along the way.
But how would the side that got relegated in 2016 fare against the current outfit?
Let’s take a look….
The midfield duel would likely be an interesting one. Even during that 2015/16 campaign, Idrissa Gueye was one of the Villans’ top performers, picking up an average WhoScored rating of 7.25 along the way – he also managed 4.1 tackles and four interceptions per match.
Marvelous Nakamba, meanwhile, has failed to match those standards, amassing just 2.4 and 1.7 respectively. However, Jordan Veretout and Ashley Westwood would unlikely be able to provide as much attacking threat as John McGinn, for example – the Scotland international already has three goals this season despite missing several games through injury, whilst the former duo scored just two between them that campaign.
Elsewhere, Alan Hutton would have his work cut out keeping Jack Grealish quiet – he has seven goals and six assists in the Premier League this term, whilst the 35-year-old managed a WhoScored rating of just 6.45 four years ago. Anwar El Ghazi, too, would fancy his chances against Aly Cissokho, whilst Wesley would also be confident of getting something out of Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards – the Villans conceded 76 goals that campaign.
Nowadays, Villa’s best player leaps off the page – Grealish is undoubtedly the star man currently at Villa Park. No teammate of his has managed more goals and assists this season, and Manchester United are said to be interested. John McGinn is another who could well depart if they went down, with Sir Alex Ferguson wanting the Red Devils to make their move, whilst Tyrone Mings won his first England cap earlier on this season.
Idriss Gueye was a star at Villa and has since gone on to play for Everton and PSG – he was undoubtedly the best player in the team. There are others, too, who have gone on to better things since leaving the Midlands outfit. Veretout now plays for AS Roma, having cost €17m (£15.4m) last summer.
Scott Sinclair, meanwhile, had a successful spell at Celtic, scoring 62 goals in 167 games. Jordan Ayew was Villa’s top scorer in 2015/16, and he is for Crystal Palace this term as well, whilst Ashley Westwood is also a regular for Premier League side Burnley.
Missing football!? There’s still plenty of Villa discussion going on in the Vital Villa Forum! Click here to get involved!
This would unlikely be a pretty affair, but you would probably have to give the edge to Dean Smith’s side. Grealish is a talent with a huge career ahead of him, and no-one from that previous side to be relegated can match his natural ability. Whilst several of the players under Tim Sherwood, Kevin McDonald, Remi Garde and Eric Black went on to bigger and better things elsewhere, they failed miserably during their time at Villa.
Not only that, Smith’s team have already scored seven more goals in 29 matches (34 goals) than the other side managed in 38 (27 goals), and have shipped 20 less strikes. That could well be the difference in this close encounter.