Premier League: The one near-guarantee about Aston Villa's run-in

Seven of Christian Benteke's ten Aston Villa goals this season have arrived under Tim Sherwood
Seven of Christian Benteke's ten Aston Villa goals this season have arrived under Tim Sherwood

Aston Villa remain in Premier League jeopardy after drawing with QPR, but one thing that isn't in question is their attacking improvement...

"Whereas Villa had scored ten goals less than any other Premier League team when Sherwood was hired, they are now a strike shy of Sunderland (23 to 24) and three behind Burnley’s 26."

If Aston Villa had beaten QPR, they would have been five points clear of the relegation zone. If they had lost, they would have taken the Londoners' place inside it. As it was, they drew 3-3, leaving them at 3.814/5 to go down and making it far trickier to draw an erudite conclusion.

However, one thing that can be stated with certainty is that, in addition to making press conferences far more entertaining, Tim Sherwood has helped Villa over the worst of their goalscoring difficulties.

When Paul Lambert was impolitely asked to do one in February, he left the midlanders in the bottom three, anchored by a wretched strike rate of 12 goals in 25 Premier League games. That's right: they weren't even averaging half a goal a match, netting once in his final eight league outings.

Sherwood has overseen 11 goals in his seven top-flight fixtures in charge, and the fact that eight of them arrived in the latest four compared to three in the first three suggests that, rather than being a new manager bounce, this is sustainable growth.

There has been nothing extraordinary about the attacking turnaround. Sherwood eased out the less-than-prolific Andreas Weimann, reintegrated most adventurous full back Leandro Bacuna, squeezed a few goals out of previously ineffectual pace merchants Scott Sinclair and Gabriel Agbonlahor and got Christian Benteke firing.

Benteke's hat-trick against QPR made it seven goals in five Villa appearances since March, compared to three in 21 prior to that in 2014/15.

All that hinders comparisons to Emmanuel Adebayor's revival under Sherwood at Tottenham is the absence of any salute celebrations with the man in the dugout.

Whereas Villa had scored ten goals less than any other Premier League team when the former Spurs boss was hired and were still nine behind the second tamest frontline (Sunderland) at the start of March, they are now a strike shy of the Black Cats (23 to 24) and three behind Burnley's 26.

With Sunderland notching twice in seven matches and Burnley once in five just as Villa hit their stride, the opportunity to lay the FA Cup semi-finalists at around 1.68/13 to close the campaign with the least goals of all 20 Premier League clubs looks very appealing.

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