Becoming A Soccer Fan Pt. 2: Aston Villa F.C. Fighting for Promotion

What better time to start following Aston Villa F.C. than in the midst of their hunt for promotion back into the top-flight ranks of the English Premier League?

For those of us from the United States, the English football league system doesn’t include a post-season or playoff schedule similar to the format we’re used to, instead, the end of season standings determine who is promoted or relegated. The exception to this, because there are always exceptions, is when a team makes the jump from the English League Championship to the English Premier League. If you forgot what those were… revisit the first post in this series Becoming a Soccer Fan Pt. 1: The English Football League System.”

When battling your way out of the English League Championship, the safest bet is to earn a spot in the top two positions of the league, because the top two teams are automatically promoted into the EPL at the season’s conclusion. If you land outside the top two spots, all is not lost, as a small promotion playoff does exist allowing the third, fourth, fifth and sixth ranked teams in the league to battle it out for the final promotion position.

Now that we understand the system, let’s see where we’re at in the standings.

Aston Villa F.C. is currently 5th in the standings behind the Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cardiff City, Bristol City, and Derby County. Sheffield United rounds out the top six positions in the league at the moment, and were we to find ourselves in the playoff promotions based on the standings now, we’d be squaring off with Bristol City, Derby County, and Sheffield United. Fortunately for Aston Villa, there are still matches to be played before the season ends.

In fact, in just a few hour’s time, Aston Villa will be squaring off with Derby County, an important matchup when we consider the implications it could have on the standings down the stretch. Derby County is just 1 point ahead of us, which means a win would put us up by 2 points and into fourth place. We’d still be in the promotion playoffs, but our ranking in the standings at the start determines the opponent we face to begin with. For example, with the positioning as is, the Wolverhampton Wanderers are ranked third overall and would first get to battle Sheffield United because they’re the sixth ranked team. The season still has a little over 20 games left to play, so there is plenty of time for teams to move up and down based on their performance, but for now let’s hope we can get an important win over Derby County!

The game starts at 10:00 AM EST and will last 90 minutes. A win puts us ahead of Derby County and into fourth place, anything else is unacceptable for the Villans! For a breakdown of some of the deeper analysis surrounding this particular match up, check out the BBC’s match summary for more details.

I’ll write a match review of the game for “Becoming a Soccer Fan Pt. 3: Aston Villa F.C. versus Derby County.”

So stay tuned.