How are Aston Villa shaping up ahead of the new season? Here's the lowdown on what's new at Villa Park...
Aston Villa endured a difficult season last time out finishing on just 38 points –the club’s joint lowest tally in Premier League history – and the mood is further complicated by owner Randy Lerner’s desire to sell. With grumbles regarding manager Paul Lambert, too, the priority might be to keep Villa out of trouble so they remain a saleable asset. It’s not the ideal backdrop to a new season but if the right investor comes along then things can change quickly.
Roy Keane is an exciting addition to the backroom team but on the field Lambert is working with a minimal budget and appears to have opened up an old file judging by his first forays into the summer transfer market. Philippe Senderos, Joe Cole and Kieran Richardson are all familiar Premier League faces but could also be considered past their prime given that each has arrived on a free transfer. Evidently, Lambert is being forced to cut his cloth according to significant financial restrictions.
Christian Benteke’s Achilles injury dashed his World Cup dream but it has also dampened speculation regarding a change of club this summer and the ongoing presence of the powerful striker at Villa Park offers some hope. The 23-year-old has 34 goals for the club in 67 games since signing from Genk and his role is likely to be as important as ever. Indeed, the warning came at the back end of last season – Villa lost five of their last seven games following his injury.
The uncertainty behind the scenes could affect the players on it and with Stoke, Newcastle and Hull the opponents in the first three games, there is a possibility that results will either highlight the problems or mask them. With the prospect of a new owner arriving after the transfer window shuts, these are tricky times for Villa and Lambert will need to start well in order to lighten the mood in the second city.
Sky Bet Title odds – 3000/1
- The Villans launched a league-high 1292 long balls (punts with no target in mind) last season, more than any other side.
- Paul Lambert’s charges made a league-high 491 fouls last season in the top division.
- Only 10 different players scored for Villa in the Premier League last season, fewer than for any other side.
Aston Villa really struggled last season and they haven’t done anything different this summer, so I think it’s going to be hard for them again. Yes, they’ve brought Roy Keane in as assistant - but if they could have brought him in as a player I’d say they’d be fine! He’ll make a bit of a difference but I do fear for them, I think they’ll be in trouble. Christian Benteke is going to be injured for a while and his comeback might be the catalyst to them finishing really well.
Possible Aston Villa XI