FOLLOWING a long break and uncertainty, Warriors midfielder Marvelous Nakamba finally launches his bid to stay afloat in the English Premier League with Aston Villa tonight.
By Kevin Mapasure
Villa’s match against Sheffield United marks the return of the Premier League action and the Birmingham side, home to Nakamba, will be looking to beat the drop.
For Nakamba, it could be a case of him trying to save his place in the biggest league in the world as relegation of his team could complicate his chances of playing in the lucrative and most watched soccer league in the world.
Respected pundits in England have predicted that Villa, one of the big spenders in Europe just before the current season started, will have to sell and shave off a chunk of their wage bill.
Nakamba, who is believed to be earning about US$66 000 a week, is one of the players that could be shipped out.
Turkish topflight league table toppers Trazbonspor are already sniffing around seeing a possible opportunity to take the former Warriors star away.
But Nakamba’s mind is firmly fixated on staying at Villa and in the Premier League.
The team faces a diving five-week period where they will be involved in 10 crucial matches that will culminate in their either sinking or swimming.
Nakamba’s Aston Villa sit 19th on the 20-team table, two rungs below the safety zone, having played a game less than most of their survival rivals.
The Warriors midfielder is staring at the grim prospect of dropping out of the lucrative league just one season after joining from Club Brugge at the beginning of the current term.
Before the coronavirus-induced stoppage, Villa were on a free-fall, having lost their last four matches and managing just one win in five matches and they are now deep into the relegation waters.
Zimbabweans will be rooting for Villa, hoping that their only Premier League ambassador stays in the league that draws some of the world’s super stars.
They play their first match, post-COVID-19 break, against a tough Sheffield United, who are chasing a European spot, at home before they host Chelsea three days later.
In their last 10 matches, they face six sides from the top half of the table and they have been poor against sides in that side of the log.
They have only picked up two points (Manchester United and Burnley) against sides in the top half of the table.
All their seven wins have come against bottom half teams, with five of their victories coming at home, while two were away.
Some of their tough matches include an away trip to Anfield against the champions-designate on July 4, but they will be hoping that by then, Liverpool, who require just two wins to seal the title, would have reached their target.
Villa also have a home match against Champions league-chasing Manchester United, Arsenal and Wolves also at home as well as an away match against relegation rivals West Ham United.
While Nakamba will be fighting for his place in the top tier, Macauley Bonne, who has committed to playing for the Warriors, will be trying to save his team Charlton Athletic from dropping out of the second tier league.
Charlton are two points below safety and they will be relaunching their bid to stay in the Championship at the weekend when they play Hull City, who are also fighting relegation.
But for Bonne, chances are that he will still be signed by teams in either the Championship of the Premier League if his team eventually gets relegated.
Aston Villa’s remaining matches
Sheffield United (H), Chelsea (H), Newcastle (A), Wolves (H), Liverpool (A), Manchester United (H), Crystal Palace (H), Everton (A), Arsenal (H), West Ham (A)