The Premier League is finally back on the 12th August and with that in mind, we’ve done a season preview of every club and their chances for the upcoming season. Here, we’ve taken a look at Unai Emery’s Aston Villa.
Last Season: 7th
Top Scorer: Ollie Watkins (15)
Transfers In: Pau Torres – Villarreal, £33m, Moussa Diaby – Bayer Leverkusen, undisclosed, Rico Richards – West Brom, free, Youri Tielemans – Leicester, free
Transfers Out: Jed Steer – Released, Brad Young – Released, Ashley Young – Everton, free, Kaine Kesler-Hayden – Plymouth, loan, Viljami Sinisalo – Exeter, loan, Marvelous Nakamba – Luton, undisclosed
First game: Newcastle United (A)
It was a season of two halves last year for the Villans, as Steven Gerrard was sacked pre-World Cup, after just two wins in 11 games saw them sat dangerously close to the relegation places.
10 days later, in came new boss Unai Emery from Villarreal, who completely transformed the club from top to bottom and dragged them from the foot of the table into 7th spot and with it, European football, via the Europa Conference League.
Everyone knows how successful a record Emery has in Europe, so it will certainly be a competition they will be targeting, after seeing another club in claret and blue (West Ham United) pick up the newly formed trophy last season.
The Birmingham club look to have done some good work in the summer transfer window thus far, picking up winger Moussa Diaby for a reported £51m new club transfer record.
The Frenchman has scored 31 goals over the last two seasons for Bayer Leverkusen and will add some much needed creativity from the flanks, for top scorer Ollie Watkins.
Emery has also picked up his old player Pau Torres from Villarreal, who will help to sure up a defence that looked leaky at times last season. The Spanish international is a proven performer at the top level and will push the likes of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa for a starting berth.
Also incoming and perhaps one of the steals of the summer is Youri Tielemans, arriving on a free transfer from relegated Leicester City, who if he can recapture his form of a couple of seasons ago, could be the fulcrum of the attack for the Villans. His form, like the majority of his old team, dipped in a torrid season last year but he has undoubted class, that if harnessed could be a massive benefit.
With a decent amount of spending already, it may be the case that Villa need to balance the books with player sales but they looks a lot stronger side than last year currently.
One thing that could affect them and which certainly affected West Ham last season, was the added bloat of Conference League fixtures and travelling to far flung corners of Eastern Europe every other Thursday night.
With Emery in charge, there is every chance that Villa will go deep in the competition and their Premier League form could suffer as a result.
Considering all the above, I think the Villa Park faithful might need to take a season of consolidation in the English top tier and I’m predicting them to finish in 9th this term.
They definitely look the most likely to finish as top midlands team at 1/3, however.