Villa are set to face Newcastle United this evening is a crucial match in our bid to avoid relegation.
With many clubs facing the prospect of a sudden glut of games after a long lay0ff, it has thrown up some interesting quirks when it comes to team travel.
Those clubs that aren’t too far apart geographically are opting to continue to travel by coach. This is all well and good, until social distancing is taken into consideration.
This has also prompted some rather bizarre, borderline risky decisions in respect of travel that’s necessited clubs to opt to get to their opponents by air.
Arsenal, for instance, came in for fair criticism when opting to fly from London Stansted to face Manchester City at The Etihad.
Ordinarily this would not have raised many eyebrows. However, Mikel Arteta’s side flew extremely close to kick off time, not taking off from London until a mere three hours prior.
This journey, which was undertaken during a spell of stormy weather in the UK, involved the players hastily eating a meal prepared by chefs at Stansted, jetting up north when a weather diversion or delay was possible and then having to transfer via two coaches for the remainder of the journey.
Arsenal went on to perform poorly, with Manchester City strolling to a 3-0 victory, whilst The Gunners picked up two injuries as well. Whilst the decision to travel in this manner cannot be used as an excuse, the factors at play should be considered contributory towards a bad performance and any loss.
Villa were seemingly faced with a similar travel dilemma, with a road journey via multiple coaches totalling at least a three to four hour travel time. Hardly appealing.
Understandably the club opted to travel by air, chartering a 2 Excel Aviation Boeing 737.
Given the bizarre choice by Arsenal to put their arrival time at risk against Manchester City, Villa wisely landed at Newcastle Airport at 17:31 yesterday evening (Tuesday) rather than today (Wednesday).
A flight time of just over thirty minutes should also reap Villa rewards in terms of revovery when compared to a four hour coach journey. Whilst the journey time itself is not the issue here, any time in the air impacts everything from hydration, energy levels and stress. 24 hours recovery can only be beneficial.
In another weird quirk, the aircraft in question first came into use 25.4 years ago. Aircraft fleet ages vary significantly, including in the UK & Europe. Ryanair’s plane’s average just 6.5 years old, for example.
This made Villa’s aircraft older than many of Villa’s first team squad; Grealish (24), Douglas Luiz (22), Davis (22), McGinn (25), Konsa (22), Guilbert (25), Hause (24), El Ghazi (25), Targett (24), Engels (25), Vassilev (19), Wesley (23).
Indeed, it first rolled off the production line into service in February 1995. In that month, Villa thrashed Wimbledon 7-1 and infamously drew 4-4 with Leicester City, despite having lead by 3 goals. The Villa squad of the time included faces such as Dwight Yorke, Ian Taylor, Dean Saunders, Mark Bosnich and Paul McGrath.
What we would do for some of those names in our squad to face Newcastle!
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