Continuing on with our Premier League previews, we come to the first of our new boys as we take a look at Aston Villa. The Brummy club have spent big this summer, with many comparing their summer business to that of relegated Fulham’s from last season – but there’s a few key differences.
State of Play
Aston Villa have spent a whopping £133million this summer, more than any other club in the league. Bringing in 12 different players, plenty of people have been quick to criticise the Villains for their quick-fire transfer policy, comparing it to that of Fulham from a year ago.
Fulham spent over £100million too, and also brought in over ten players last summer, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s where the similarities end. Fulham’s transfer policy last summer seemed to be “oh he’s available? Here’s £20million” as they drastically overspent on average, unproven players.
Aston Villa, on the other hand, have a clear plan in place. Nearly every player signed this summer has replaced an outgoing player with a better one from somewhere else. As well as that, they’ve added quality in a few problem areas and perhaps most importantly, kept hold of their star players.
They’ll come into the season in fine fettle too, having won all five of their pre-season matches in fine style. They’re also still safe in the knowledge that they won football’s “most lucrative match” less than two months ago – meaning they know how to negotiate a big game. Dean Smith and his Villa side will be looking forward to the season, excited for what lies ahead.
Signing of the summer
For me, the club record signing of Wesley from Club Brugge will turn out to be a master stroke for Aston Villa this season. What with his build, ability and athleticism, it’s hard not to compare him to former Villa striker Christian Benteke. He could very well have a similar impact in the claret and blue this season as Benteke did a few years back.
This was a signing that had to be made from a Villa perspective. Their top scorer last season was Tammy Abraham, who has since returned to Chelsea from his loan spell at Villa Park. They simply had to spend big to replace those goals and in Wesley, they might very well have done just that.
Aston Villa are an interesting one for me this season. Crucially for them, I don’t see them having to worry too much about relegation – they’ll be looking up the table more than they will behind them.
Having said that, I don’t see them challenging the top half of the table much either. I can certainly see them scraping tenth position, but it’s far more likely they will be somewhere between 14th and 11th come May next year.
If you’re a Villa fan reading this, it’s been a long haul this last few years, but you’ve got every reason to be excited about what lies ahead. Barring an unmitigated disaster, there’s no reason why Villa can’t push on and once more become a solid, top half Premier League club.