Aston Villa (6/1 – Top 6 Finish) enjoyed a much more stable top-flight campaign last time out when finishing 11th and they will be hopeful of continuing their progress in the upcoming Premier League season.
After dramatically staying up on the final day of the 2019-20 campaign, the Villans showed more savvy in the transfer market last summer, signing the likes of Ollie Watkins and Emiliano Martinez.
Having finished safely in mid-table, there may have even been a tinge of disappointment for supporters, who will have harboured aspirations of finishing in a European position before falling away towards the end of the campaign.
Hopes for new season
So…what can we expect from Villa this term? Well, there is no denying the club seem like a stable top-flight outfit after the last season and getting into the Europa League should be the target for the West Midlands side.
Dean Smith’s squad is packed with quality and, if there are some additions made in certain areas, there is every chance they can challenge for a top-six finish.
However, a lot will depend on the future of Jack Grealish, who is reportedly edging closer to a £100million move to Premier League champions Manchester City, although the Villa skipper is believed to be having second thoughts on the switch.
When the 25-year-old was out injured last season, his absence was felt hard by the Villans and they are desperate to keep him on their books. If he does leave, it is imperative the money they receive is invested back into the squad.
Reports are suggesting Villa (7/4 – Top Midland side) are interested in signing Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey, along with Bournemouth’s Arnaut Danjuma, for a combined fee close to £70m.
Arrivals and Departures
Emiliano Buendia – £35million from Norwich City
Ashley Young – Free transfer from Inter Milan
Tom Heaton (released)
Mbwana Samatta – £6m to Fenerbahce
Bjorn Engels – Undisclosed fee to Royal Antwerp
Neil Taylor (released)
Ahmed Elmohamady (released)
If he stays, England international Grealish (4/7 – To sign for Man City before 3rd Sept) is undoubtedly the star man for his side. Along with being the most fouled player in the division last season, the midfielder scored six goals and registered 10 assists in the Premier League.
Should the captain head to the Etihad Stadium, new arrival Emi Buendia could be Villa’s next shining light. The Argentine bagged eight goals and laid on 12 assists to help the Canaries win the Championship last season.
The 24-year-old forward has bags of quality and although he arrives with a hefty price tag, he can prove exactly why the club forked out £35m to sign him.
Smith’s reputation has been growing nicely over the past few years. The fact he managed to avoid relegation on the final day of the 2019/20 campaign shows he has real grit and determination, which is needed at the top level.
The 50-year-old definitely adopted a more attack-minded approach last season and the signing of Watkins, someone he managed when the duo were at Brentford (11/8 – Top Promoted side) together, was seen as a masterstroke.
Smith also likes to use the counter-attacking style when coming up against the big boys, a method that worked really well, and the more he gets backed in the transfer market, the better it will be for the club.
Last season – 11th.