Last season

A massive improvement over 2019/20, where they avoided relegation on the last day of the game. Last season Villa pushed for some time on the European places until they were overtaken by a game deficit and finally the center of the table beckoned. Eleventh place was quite respectable, with some of their early season highlights including a 7-2 win over then-champions Liverpool and a brilliant performance in the 3-0 away win at Arsenal. The second half of the campaign was far less consistent, so this time they’ll try to improve.

Previous transfer window

Villa ended up being one of the summer’s three big transfer agas, with the other two being Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane’s potential deals. These may or may not go through; Jack Grealish has already left for Manchester City to leave £ 100m, which was accompanied by a video explainer from CEO Christian Purslow. Her talisman is replaced by three players instead of one: creativity by Emi Buendia, speed and dribbling by Leon Bailey and the hope for goals by Danny Ings. Ashley Young (free) and Axel Tuanzebe (loan) are other newcomers.


Dean Smith, a villa man through and through and an extremely good head coach. Villa has a long-term plan to return to the top of the domestic game and he wants to be a part of it – and so far shows that he can master every step. Smith brought them out of the championship in 2019 and then took the crucial next step in helping them avoid relegation. The last season was consolidation and progress; Now it will be a question of how he can form the team a little more aggressively and consistently in order to disrupt the upper half of the table.

Key characters

Now that Grealish is gone, the idea is to share the load much more closely in every way, with Villa having multiple players who can fit the bill. Emi Martinez is one of the best goalkeepers in the top division, competent, constant and absolutely reliable. Ezri Konsa is sure to make everyone realize how good he is this season after two years of exceptional, if under-the-radar, performances while John McGinn and Ollie Watkins already have legions of admirers. From the signings, former Norwich schemer Buendia has the brilliance to take them to a higher level.

What would success be?

It’s tricky, as it depends in part on how the new additions gel and how quickly one or two of them establish themselves as unbeatable for Smith. Bailey is a player who shone in the Bundesliga more in brief outbursts than, for example, consistently over a season, but if Buendia and Ings gain a foothold immediately, more goals and more wins are possible. The top half is Villa’s minimum goal this season, while an absolute success would be a cup semi-finals or better and a pursuit of a place in the top seven in the league. Gradual but definitive improvement.

August games

(a) v Watford, Saturday, August 14, 3:00 p.m.

(h) vs Newcastle, Saturday 21 August, 3 p.m.

League Cup second round, Wednesday, 24./25. August, tbc

(h) vs Brentford, Saturday, August 28th, 3pm

Ranking of bookmakers

9. (200/1 for the title)