Aston Villa news, season preview: The 2020-21 Premier League season is almost here and our season previews will give you all of the information you need to know about each of the 20 PL clubs.
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Okay, time to focus on Villa…
2019-20 finish: 17th (9W-8D-21L, 35 points)
Head coach: Dean Smith
2019-20 PL top scorer: Jack Grealish (8 PL goals)
ProSoccerTalk’s key topic on Aston Villa: How is the money being spent?
Aston Villa spent nearly $200 million last summer ahead of their first season back in the PL, and the return on their massive investment was… shall we say, subpar. Tyrone Mings was mostly solid at center back after signing for $26 million, but the likes of Wesley ($29 — five goals in 21 PL appearances), Douglas Luiz ($19 million), Anwar El Ghazi ($10 million — four goals in 34 PL appearances) and Jota ($5 million — zero goals in 10 PL appearances) were all hugely disappointing upon arriving at Villa Park.
Johan Lange has been brought in to revamp Villa’s recruitment work after six seasons at Danish side Copenhagen. Previous sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch left the club after his contract expired this summer. Lange’s first, and only thus far, piece of business was to sign Nottingham Forest defender Matty Cash for $18 million. This comes after Villa conceded 67 goals in 38 games last season (second-most in the PL). Perhaps the plan is to give last season’s strugglers a second season to acclimate and improve before undertaking another costly shopping spree.
Aston Villa news: The current situation
Villa were made to wait until the final seconds of the final day of the season to confirm their place in the 2020-21 Premier League, meaning much improvement is required. The first challenge they face is keeping hold of captain Jack Grealish between now and the transfer window closing on Oct. 5. If/when that is checked off the list, Dean Smith’s side must be more consistent this time around. They won back-to-back games just once all season (in October) and had winless skids of five and 10 games at different points.
Key Aston Villa news, season objectives
- Fending off interest from Manchester United and Arsenal, both of whom are said to want Grealish.
- Improving upon the second-worst defensive record in the PL last season; their -26 goal differential was third-worst, ahead of only relegated sides Norwich City and Watford.
- Forward Wesley and goalkeeper Tom Heaton set to return after suffering long-term knee injuries which kept them out the second half of last season.
- Matty Cash: Signed for $18 million from EFL Championship side Nottingham Forest, the 23-year-old right back is more of a defender than the modern-day full back-turned-winger.
ProSoccerTalk’s prediction for Aston Villa in 2020-21
The 2020-21 season will probably see Villa stuck in another relegation battle — though, perhaps not as perilously — with one massive advantage helping to put them ahead of at least three other sides: the quick turnaround from one season to the next due to the COVID-19 shutdown, and many clubs seemingly unwilling to spend as freely as in previous years, could see Villa make a big leap with last summer’s signings given a second chance at a first impression while other clubs needing to do transfer business are simply unable to do so.
In a “normal” world, the temptation might have been to chop and change once again this summer, but now Smith and nearly half the first-team squad get something of a do-over. Villa finish 15th and officially stave off relegation with a couple games left to play.