Ball still bobbling around in Villa box, three days later

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Seventy hours after the final whistle of their FA Cup fourth round defeat against Arsenal, a bedraggled Aston Villa back-line are still battling in vain to clear the ball from their penalty box, a statement on the club’s website has revealed.

Villa looked set to spring a cup shock when they took a 2-0 lead into half-time at the Emirates Stadium, but reality set in as some slipshod defending saw McLeish’s men fall to a 3-2 defeat.

And things have gone from bad to worse for Villa fans as the club have admitted on their website that their jobbing back four still haven’t managed to clear their lines, almost three days after their opponents left the pitch.

Despite the upbeat headline "Villa close to getting routine cross clear", video clips showing a clearly exhausted Alan Hutton drilling clearance after clearance into the back of a bruised and bloodied Richard Dunne while a confused Stephen Warnock spins around in small circles have raised serious concerns about the future of the club.

An interview with ineffective managerial growly-man Alex McLeish, whose top button is now irrevocably undone, betrayed the severity of the situation.

“It’s no secret that we’ve no[t] cleared the ball yet,” the Big Eck rasped while straightening out a sleeping bag on the edge of the technical area.

“Arsenal are a talented side, but at this point we’ve got only ourselves to blame. It’s a big worry because at any point you feel Van Persie could drop by again and punish us.”

McLeish is under pressure to resolve the situation quickly after coming in for severe criticism when Villa conceded twice against Wolves a fortnight ago while their defensive quartet tried to unlock Gabby Agbonlahor’s new phone.

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