On Sunday, Aston Villa pulled off one of the biggest victories in recent seasons, as Dean Smith’s team recorded a memorable 7-2 win over reigning champions Liverpool at Villa Park. Midfielder Jack Grealish and recent signing Ollie Watkins played a key role in the victory.
Focussed recruitment in this window
Last summer Villa spent a small fortune in strengthening their squad after winning promotion from the Championship. However, the Villans beat relegation by just a point. The club from the Midlands have been far more focussed in their recruitment this summer it seems.
Last season they conceded too many goals and did not score enough. Early signs show that they have put those two flaws right with the signings of Emiliano Martinez and Olli Watkins. Both have started life at the Midlands club in good fashion.
Martinez joined from Arsenal and just continued his excellent form from last season with the Gunners. Even at £20million, the 28-year-old could be a bargain buy for the Villans. With regular first-team football, the Argentinian may now fulfil what has been unfulfilled potential for much of his career.
Watkins had been one of the standout players in the lower leagues in recent seasons. The 24-year-old had got into double figures in the league in the three seasons leading up the last campaign when he scored 25 goals for Brentford in the Championship. The hat-trick against the champions was certainly a good way to open his account for his new team.
The pair are not the only ones who made promising starts to their Villa careers. The likes of Matty Cash, Bertrand Traore and Ross Barkley have shown positive signs in their fledgeling careers at Villa Park.
The best bit of business over the window may have been keeping hold of the midfield marvel that Jack Grealish. On his day, he is simply fantastic to watch. He has matured into an excellent top-flight player.
Shouldn’t be involved in the relegation dogfight this season
Along with Everton, Villa are the only team to have won all their Premier League matches this season. However, Dean Smith’s team are behind the Merseysider’s because they have played a game fewer than the Toffees. It would be incredible if both or either could sustain their good run of form. It does look unlikely, but on current form, it seems highly unlikely that Villa will be dragged into the fight to avoid relegation either.
By history and tradition, Villa are a big club and are a part of the fabric of the English game. Unfortunately, in recent years their team has not always matched their rich tradition. Not getting ahead of ourselves, but the current team is certainly showing promising signs so far this season.
Dean Smith came in for some heavy criticism last season, maybe justly at times. However, the local boy turned head coach is now showing that he capable of managing his beloved Villa. The longer that lasts the better, as Aston Villa are a proper English football club that should be Premier League mainstays.
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What are the realistic expectations for Aston Villa this season?