NEWCASTLE, United Kingdom (REUTERS) - Aston Villa displayed some fight to earn a 1-1 draw in torrential rain at Newcastle United on Saturday but their Premier League survival hopes grow bleaker by the week.
Jordan Ayew's beautifully struck goal on the hour cancelled out Fabricio Coloccini's close-range opener before the break and Villa had late chances to claim their first league victory since they beat Bournemouth on the opening day of the season.
However, a glance at the table makes depressing reading for the once powerful Midlands club.
They have seven points from 17 games and are five behind second-bottom Sunderland and 10 adrift of Newcastle who are fourth from bottom.
No team has avoided the drop from the Premier League with fewer points at Christmas and on the two previous occasions Villa were bottom at this stage of the season (1935-36 and 1958-59) they were relegated.
Manager Remi Garde said his side's second-half display offered some hope, although he questioned why it took them until after the interval to spark into life.
"Our attitude was different in the second half," said former Arsenal midfielder Garde, who is yet to taste victory of any kind since taking over from Tim Sherwood in early November, said.
"The first half we were out of the game in terms of intensity, we were losing all the duels, and if you don't win the ball you can't win the game.
"We played only 45 minutes," he added.