Our second article takes us to Birmingham, England. The club we are focusing in on is Aston Villa. This storied club is back in the Premier League for the first time since 2016.

Ah yes, the Villains are surely chanting, “Say we are going up, say we are going up”.

One of the oldest clubs in England, Aston Villa were formed way back in 1874. They were a mainstay in the Premier League from its formation in 1992 until 2016 when they were relegated. Villa was 5th in the Championship this past season, winning 2-1 against Derby County in the Play-off Final at Wembley. Villa is one of five English clubs to have lifted The European Cup (now the Champion’s League), doing so in 1982.

Credit: Getty Images

The Championship is an extremely competitive league, hosting 24 teams all vying to gain promotion to the top flight. Last season Villa finished 5th, thanks to on-loan Tammy Abraham scoring 25 league goals. Villa scored a total of 82 goals in 46 games but conceded 61. Since Tammy Abraham will be returning to Chelsea, Villa will be losing quite a bit of attacking power. With a solid midfield trio of Conor Hourihane, John McGinn, and Jack Grealish, scoring 19 league goals and appearing in a majority of matchdays to build around, Villa will need to get a solid defensive structure and a clinical striker to survive this season.

So, where does that leave Dean Smith?

Credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The Villains’ manager took over for Steve Bruce in October last season, steering them to promotion. Villa’s star man Jack Grealish is rumored to move away, with Spurs the frontrunner for the English youngster. For Smith, keeping Grealish is the most important piece of business for him. Having already signed Wesley Moraes, Villa is aware of the need for goal scorers. Smith is already feeling the pressure surely.

I think Villa need to secure some defensive reinforcements. They will try to play progressively in a 4-3-3 formation with a good midfield trio but will find themselves off the ball quite a bit. Some of the big clubs will have defenders who need match time, so Villa could take advantage of this with a couple of smart loan moves. Calum Chambers comes to mind, but having been relegated twice while out on loan, he might be a risk.

Ethan Ampadu is another Center Back from Chelsea they could bring in on loan, but at 18, it is a major gamble. Southampton is looking to offload some players, so perhaps Jan Bednarek or Jack Stephens could be a bargain buy. Even spending the extra money for one of Brighton’s Shane Duffy or Lewis Dunk (However unlikely this may be), could steer them to safety. The biggest concern with any promoted side is spending a ton of money and pulling a Fulham (getting relegated after spending more than 150$ million).

I also think Villa needs a second striker to help Wesley out. Having scored 13 goals in Belgium’s top flight last season, there is certainly room for improvement. Charlie Austin is unwanted at Southampton, which could be a cheap signing for Villa. Another good forward who has a release clause is Pablo Sarabia. According to Gazzetta Dello Sport, it is only 18 million Euros.

Having been involved in 25 goals in La Liga in 2018-2019, he could really help spread the ball around and help Wesley get quality chances. Jarrod Bowen is another option, having scored 22 goals and featuring on the Championship Team of the Season. Involved heavily on the right flank, he won 44% on his duels and 62% of his tackles in the league according to Onefootball. It could be a 20 million Euros or higher move, but he definitely gets himself involved in any match, which is worth the financial risk.

Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Everyone who remembers the last time Villa were in the Premier League remembers the days of Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke scraping points up for the Villains. The predictions are tough to make until the Grealish situation is resolved. If he leaves, they’re going down. If he stays, they’ll stay up. I think 17th on the table will be their final position, with some final day heroics keeping them up. They will surely play progressive, attacking football but they will be exposed on the counter and will be conceding a lot of goals. For the Premier League, every mistake can be severely punished by anyone. Promoted teams have a tendency to be defensive and still lose a lot of matches (Except Wolves, who finished 7th).

One thing is for certain, I’m looking forward to seeing how their season unfolds.

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