The doom and gloom continues to settle at Aston Villa, so much so that the fact they are on their longest unbeaten run in the Premier League in over a year seems to have gone unnoticed.
A three game streak is nothing particularly to write home about of course, but it’s something manager Remi Garde will cling on to as they travel to West Ham this evening.
Villa Park was only half-full for their heavy FA Cup defeat against Man City at the weekend, and in truth their fans are unlikely to find much joy from their trip to East London.
The facts remain that they are 10 points from safety and, try as they might, failed to convince any player to join them on the sinking ship towards relegation in the January transfer window.
Contrast this to their opponents tonight, who are well in the hunt for a European place next season, and have lost just once since November.
They had a rather more successful window with Sam Byram’s arrival and the loan signing of Emmanuel Emenike on deadline day, but this month they have also reaped the benefits of the return from injury of one the best Premier League signings of the season in Dmitri Payet.
There’s no denying they missed his creativity during throughout November and December, resulting in a run of five consecutive draws (one of which was against Villa), but have had little trouble scoring since he returned at the start of the year.
While the top four looks out of reach for the Hammers at this stage, no side has enjoyed facing them this season, and should have little trouble in brushing aside the Premier League’s bottom club.
They might have to do it without the services of James Tomkins, however, who suffered a head injury in their FA Cup draw at Liverpool.
New signing Emenike will also miss out as he hasn’t received international clearance, but Byram will return to the starting XI after being cup-tied.
Villa have injury problems, with Rudy Gestede and Libor Kozak joining Carlos Sanchez on the sidelines and Ashley Westwood doubtful.