There is no doubt which team could well be the surprise package in the Premier League this coming season. Everton may sit at the top of the table but their resurgence under Carlo Ancelotti, on the back of a heavy spend on players this summer, may well be expected by many. However second place Aston Villa have picked up four wins from four, including a 7-2 mauling of Champions Liverpool in that run and they have the best defensive record in the division at the moment.
Villa’s massive upturn in form extends beyond their performances this season. After losing to Manchester United back in July, Villa looked doomed to relegation, but wins over Crystal Palace and Arsenal combined with draws away at Everton and West Ham saw them finish last season unbeaten in four and in doing so escape the drop by the narrowest of margins. It is that what makes their perfect start to this season all the more remarkable.
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Let’s take a closer look now at the Aston Villa squad to see if we can identify where this rapid improvement has come from and what manager Dean Smith has done to turn the fortunes of this midlands giant around.
Aston Villa Squad
- Emiliano Martinez
- Tom Heaton
- Jed Steer
- Lovre Kalinic
- Tyrone Mings
- Ezri Konsa
- Ahmed Elmohamady
- Frederic Guilbert
- Matt Targett
- Kortney Hause
- Bjorn Engels
- Neil Taylor
- Jack Grealish
- Matty Cash
- Douglas Luiz
- John McGinn
- Jacob Ramsey
- Marvelous Nakamba
- Anwar El Ghazi
- Conor Hourihane
- Henri Lansbury
- Ross Barkley (on loan from Chelsea)
- Ollie Watkins
- Bertrand Traore
- Wesley Moraes
- Keinan Davis
Dean Smith has made some shrewd moves in the transfer market this offseason landing Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore to bolster the attack, Matty Cash to help out in midfield and Emiliano Martinez to strengthen in goal. However, the loan signing of Ross Barkley to partner Jack Grealish in midfield looks like a masterstroke, as does Villa fending off many suitors trying to land Grealish in the pre-season period.
Aston Villa Goalscorers
- Ollie Watkins – 5 Goals from 7 games
- Jack Grealish – 4 Goals from 5 games
- Ross Barkley – 2 Goals from 2 games
- John McGinn, Conor Hourihane, Keinan Davis, Tyrone Mings, Bertrand Traore, Anwar El Ghazi, Ezri Konsa – All 1 goal each
In terms of assists, John McGinn tops that chart with four, one ahead of Jack Grealish who has three, Trezeguet has two with Henri Lansbury with a number of other players having one assist to their name. What is impressive about this list is that it is clear that Villa do not rely on just one or two outlets for their goals with 10 players already finding the net this season for them. Similarly, they have players that can create goals as well as score them.
It is also worth noting that defensively Villa have conceded just two goals this season in the league and if you extend that back over last season, it means in their last eight Premier League games they have conceded four goals.
Can Aston Villa keep this form up?
By all accounts, it has been a stellar start to the season for Villa. Not only have they beaten Liverpool and Leicester City in their games so far, but they have beaten teams people expected to be Villa’s relegation rivals in the likes of Sheffield United and Fulham too.
The question is whether Villa can keep up this staggering start to the season. They face a tricky run of fixtures in the Premier League over the coming couple of months with Leeds on Friday night, then games against Southampton, Arsenal, Brighton, West Ham in November and then Newcastle, Wolves, Burnley, West Brom, Crystal Palace and Chelsea in December. If they can continue that run to then, then we could be looking at the long-awaited renaissance of the famous Midlands team.
However, I do feel that the games against Southampton, Leeds and Arsenal do look very tricky and with West Ham in good form too, these are games that I feel will really test Villas mettle to the fore. If they can come through that period with 8 points or more from t hose games, then I feel that we will have to count them as genuine title contenders.
That may sound crazy, but a few seasons ago one team from the Midlands started the season expected to battle bravely against relegation. So much so that they were quoted by the bookmakers as 5000/1 outsiders to win the Premier League, but with the big teams faltering, Leicester City emerged from nowhere to clinch one of the most memorable Premier League title wins in the history of the competition.
Villa fans will be hoping that their charges can emulate the Foxes and do precisely the same. Villa’s odds have been slashed on winning the Premier League and they are now 66/1 with bet365 to claim the title.