On 26th July 2020, Aston Villa secured a vital point on the road at West Ham, to secure their Premier League status for another year. Talismanic captain Jack Grealish looked set to leave the club in the summer and with manager Dean Smith a man under pressure, the writing looked to be on the wall for the Villains as the 2020/21 season began.
Villa have been one of the stand out sides in the Premier Division this season–picking up some incredible results and they head into the international break 6th in the table.
Long touted as one of English football’s most exciting talents, Jack Grealish looked set to leave his beloved Villa Park this summer. With Tottenham having had a bid rejected for the midfielder in 2018 and the likes of Manchester United and Everton rumoured to be interested in acquiring his services, it looked like he was heading out of the club.
However, Dean Smith was able to convince Grealish to stay and his performances this season have been outstanding. With 4 goals and 5 assists from his opening 7 games, Grealish has transformed Villa’s fortunes this season and his influence on the team continues to grow.
Shrewd summer signings
Finance is king in the Premier League and Aston Villa have invested heavily since returning to the top flight in 2019. In the summer of 2020, Villa parted with over £80 million–recruiting the likes of Matty Cash from Nottingham Forest, Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal and Bertrand Traore from Lyon. These signings have all settled in well at Villa Park with two other summer acquisitions grabbing the headlines.
Ross Barkley and Ollie Watkins have taken the top flight by storm this season since arriving at Villa. Barkley’s season long loan from Chelsea looks to be the perfect fit for both the player and the club whilst Watkins’s arrival from Brentford raised eyebrows at £30 million but his 6 goals in 7 games have instantly endeared him to the Villa faithful.
How far can they go?
With 15 points from just 7 games played, Villa have made an almost perfect start to the campaign. Their 7-2 win over Champions Liverpool back in October will go down in Premier League history whilst wins on the road at Arsenal and Leicester City have underlined just how far they’ve progressed this term.
Having enjoyed such an impressive start, Dean Smith’s side will be keen to push up the table this season and they could even challenge for European football next season too.
The absence of fans in stadiums and the ever changing landscape of the COVID 19 pandemic could both hinder or benefit Aston Villa as this season plays out but for the time being, Villa are one of the most enthralling sides to watch, in the most entertaining league in the world.