Aston Villa may have spent much of last season battling demotion to the second tier, but despite being dealt a fiendish run of fixtures at the start of 2013/14 they are stationed in tenth place in the Premier League and look a strong 13/10 bet to still be there at the end of the campaign.
Seven games into the season the Villans have already played four members of the current top five.
It has been the misfortune of Paul Lambert’s men to have been pitted against the division’s form teams one after another early on and they will face a somewhat easier stretch of fixtures in the near future.
From November a far more manageable set of fixtures beckons with West Ham, Cardiff, West Brom, Sunderland and Fulham on the table in the course of six matches and this should be the time that Villa begin to make hay.
Victories over Arsenal and Manchester City have yielded six points Lambert won’t have been relying on.
In terms of pre-season points projections the Birmingham outfit are arguably well ahead of where they should be thanks to two shock victories.
Meanwhile the loss to Newcastle represents their sole demoralising reverse, with the draw at Hull not looking a terrible result given the Tigers are currently in eighth themselves.
Only four sides (Villa among them) won at Carrow Road last season so a second successive win against Norwich there coupled with a highly encouraging clean sheet bodes very well for a top-ten finish bid.
Christian Benteke’s shots per goal ratio is the best of any Premier League player to have struck more than three times.
The brilliant Belgian’s injury lay-off fortuitously coincided with the international break for the most part, yet the fact that his colleagues picked up four points from two games in his absence is another reason to suggest Villa are ahead of where they should be points-wise.
Having notched four times from a mere 11 attempts before doing himself a mischief in the aforementioned Carrow Road raid his return to action is another reason to expect that the Villans can strike out boldly for their first top-half finish since 2011.