Last season, Aston Villa were looking like they would be returning to the Championship after spending £140 million on new signings. They were heavily criticised for wasting their money on foreign acquisitions with no real pedigree.
After conceding 67 goals & scoring just 41, they narrowly avoided relegation by a single point. There was also quite a bit of controversy in the way they avoided relegation, when Hawk Eye failed… in Villa’s favour.
What saved Aston Villa was their upturn in form since returning from the Premier League pause. Their most important victory was against Arsenal, which helped them to start believing they could survive.
Fast forward to 2020 & Aston Villa are the only team in the Premier League with a 100% record. Some of their results have been jaw-dropping, most notably the 7-2 destruction of Liverpool.
Before they started the Premier League 2020/21 campaign, they had to ensure they didn’t make the same mistakes as last year. To build their form, they had to make smart signings. Failure to do so, could cost Dean Smith his job.
Eric Konsa & Tyrone Mings have started to develop a solid partnership in defence, but Konsa wasn’t an overnight sensation. He was part of last season’s great escape, but his form picked up since the Premier League restart.
Matty Cash was added to the defensive ranks & he’s already giving fans something to cheer about. He’s solid defensively, but enjoys getting up the pitch supporting the attack.
Ross Barkley was another fantastic addition, as Aston Villa were struggling to create enough solid chances. Last year, they had a tendency to rely on Jack Grealish. Ross will add an extra outlet in attack, but also free up Jack Grealish for further opportunities.
Speaking of Jack Grealish, Aston Villa managed to keep their man. There were solid rumours that he might sign for Man Utd, but he’s enjoying life at his boyhood club & signed a contract extension.
Ollie Watkins was Aston Villa’s biggest purchase of the season, with Dean Smith sanctioning a £33 million bid for the striker. He’s scored a hat-trick against Liverpool & he’s looking like he will prove to be a great signing.
One of the most important signings for the Villains will be Emiliano Martinez. He’s no investment at 28 years old, but he is an excellent goalkeeper. He was offered the chance at being the star man in Aston, deciding to leave the bench at Arsenal. He’s already shown what he can do, and will certainly help Aston Villa in their efforts to concede less goals.
Behind the scenes, Craig Shakespeare was signed as an Assistant Manager. The very same Craig Shakespeare that guided Ranieri and Leicester City to their title victory. Whilst it didn’t work out for Craig as a manager, he can provide valuable experience as an assistant to Dean Smith.
Aston Villa have recruited fantastically in 2020, which is exactly what they needed. They have also bedded in some of their top talents, such as Konsa, David Luiz & they have shown fantastic form during the opening stages of the season.
It’s going to be a difficult season for Aston Villa, but their fantastic early start will have taken the pressure off to some extent. Although they’re currently unbeaten, fans will still be looking at Premier League safety as their number one objective.