Let’s state the obvious first. Aston Villa have already improved on their efforts of last season. You only have to look at the league table, some of their impressive results earlier in the season and the England call-ups for Villa players, for evidence of that.
Progress is the name of the game for Aston Villa and when a club drops over £200m net on players in two seasons, the owners will no doubt be looking for a swifter transition than simply finishing a few places higher in the league than last season.
After Villa’s inconsistent performances and results in 2021, any aspirations of qualifying for Europe this season maybe a little far fetched now, but finishing the season with improved performances and a sense of momentum would certainly be a big positive moving forward.
The Villa owners, their top players and the more ambitious Villa supporters will want the feeling that they are now heading in the right direction to challenge the Premier League’s status quo, rather than just making up the numbers in the league.
In terms of what is possible in a second season back in the Premier League, the bar was set very high with what Leicester City achieved five seasons ago. After Villa dramatically escaped relegation last season though, most Villa supporters would have had realistic expectations for 2020/21. While no one would have been considering Champions League qualification, even after winning the first four games, the way Villa were playing and started the season, certainly raised the bar of what could be possible.
An outside shot of at least challenging for a Europa League spot was not such an outlandish notion. After all, Wolves managed it instantly upon their recent promotion and the fact many Premier League teams are currently in transition, opens up the field. Then, of course, the pandemic has thrown up a wild card factor to the season too – for example, it’s doubtful that the current champions Liverpool would have lost six home league games on the trot, if there were crowds at Anfield.
Whilst opportunity had knocked for the improving Villa, their potential reward has diminished with their stuttering 2021 form.
Inconsistency and Concern
There’s several mitigating factors that can be factored in, which the MOMS team discuss in the latest podcast episode (140). From hitting the ground running at the start of the season while others found their feet, to Covid outbreaks and teams working Villa out.
Ultimately, though, Villa will be disappointed what has played out on the pitch in 2021 though.
The defence, it has to be said, has continued to be rock solid. It’s maintained high standards since its reincarnation during Project Restart last season. 14 goals conceded in 13 games during 2021, matches the 14 conceded in the 14 league games during 2020 at the start of this season.
In short, the root of Villa’s current issues is the team’s attacking threat seemingly fizzling out in recent months, a subject that has very much been the heart of recent My Old Man Said podcast discussions in recent weeks.
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David Michael – @oldmansaid
Chris Budd – @BUDD_music
Phillip Shaw – @prsgame
My Old Man Said – https://myoldmansaid.com
Editor/Producer – David Michael
Music – Philip Marten