Aston Villa seem to have been teetering on the brink of relegation every season for some years now; but they always manage to escape somehow. As of mid-March 2016, Villa are eight points adrift at the foot of the table.
Can they escape in this time, or will the 2016-17 Premier League season be the first without the West Midlands club?
History in Premier League
As a founding member of the Premier League, Villa came very close to winning league during the inaugural Premier League season (1992-93) under Ron Atkinson.
The next season, they finished 10th, and a succession of managers of managers followed. These included Brian Little, John Gregory, David O’Leary, Martin O’Neill and Gérard Houllier.
The best Villa have done in the Premier League since 1993 is sixth in 2003-04, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10. They finished 17th in 2014-15.
Rémi Garde replaced Tim Sherwood as manager of Aston Villa in November 2015.
Garde’s managerial experience includes a three-year spell in charge of the Ligue 1 club, Olympique Lyonnais, whom the Frenchman led to fourth, third and fifth-place finishes.
He also led his Lyon side to victory in the Coupe de France, as well as gaining them a place in the Champions League Round of 16.
Aston Villa remain top of the league and it appears that that a lot more than a new manager was needed to reverse Villa’s misfortunes.
American international goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, was single-handedly responsible for keeping Villa from the drop in back-to-back campaigns, thanks to an array of shot-stopping heroics.
With Villa often coming under fire from their opponents, a good goalkeeper can be – and has proven – vital.
Guzan struggled to replicate his fine form in the 2015-16 season, leading Villa to concede an unusually high number of goals.
This dramatic loss of form has seen him lose his place under both Sherwood and Garde; if only he could recover some of his old magic then Villa might be in with a fighting chance of resisting the drop.
While Aston Villa bought well back in the summer – namely Jordan Ayew – recent results haven’t reflected the club’s investment in players. Managers have also come and gone, with Rémi Garde ultimately being tasked with keeping them afloat.
The club have played in every single Premier League season since its inception, and if Villa can’t find a bit of spirit, the 2015-16 campaign could be etched in their history as the first time they’ve suffered relegation since 1987.