Pre-Season Preview – Aston Villa


Aston Villa return to the Premier League under Dean Smith, after winning promotion from the Championship via the play-offs.

Villa returned to the Premier League after a stunning run in 2019 which saw them rise from midtable obscurity to within a chance of automatic promotion towards the latter stages. They finished the season in fifth place but beat local rivals West Brom in the semi final before a Wembley win over Derby County saw them finally return to the top-flight.

Tammy Abraham finished the season with 26 goals for Villa, proving to be an influential player and essential signing over the course of the season. His ability to lead the line and keep defences busy allowed the midfield of John McGinn and Jack Grealish to flourish, both of whom set their campaigns on fire with an array of spectacular goals.

The defensive solidity of Axel Tuanzebe, Tyrone Mings and James Chester gave the side a base for the more creative players to flourish. With on-loan winger Anwar El Ghazi proving his ability to turn up in big matches, scoring in the play-off final to give Villa the lead.


Despite the Villa squad being bloated with loan deals for their promotion season, Smith has sought to filling the squad with intelligent, meaningful additions, spending over £100m revamping the squad.

They acquired Matt Targett from Southampton, Tyrone Mings on a permanent deal from Bournemouth, whilst they also tied up deals for Ezri Konsa, Bjorn Engels, Trezeguet, Douglas Luiz, Marvelous Nakamba and former England international Tom Heaton.

Dean Smith also sought to rid the club of the deadwood, with Ross McCormack, Glenn Whelan, Alan Hutton and Mile Jedinak all being released, whilst Richie De Laet, Tommy Elphick and Albert Adomah moved onto other clubs on free transfers.


Villa open their campaign with a difficult trip to Tottenham Hotspur, last seasons Champions League finalists will be looking to push on in terms of a title challenge, keeping chase with Manchester City and Liverpool, but winnable fixtures follow with three home games in their next four; Bournemouth, Everton and West Ham visit Villa Park with a trip to face Crystal Palace squeezed in the middle.


Dean Smith spoke to BBC Sport about the club spending, players integrating and the season ahead;

“We had to bring players in,” said Smith. “The season finished and after the euphoria then comes the tough part of the job. We had to rebuild.

“Fortunately we’re rebuilding in the Premier League and we’ve got fantastic owners who are very supportive.

“I wanted to retain the spine of the team and add some quality to that. Three of the players we’ve signed were with us last season and two others I’ve worked with at Brentford.

“Even Trez [Egypt international Trezeguet] is great friends with [Villa defender Ahmed] Elmohamady. Wesley has struck up a great friendship with Jota.

“My ambition is to win every game we play. We want to compete in the Premier League.”


As with all promoted sides, safety from relegation comes as an immediate target. Villa fans just want to stay in the Premier League and build from there, but the money spent and the seemingly astute signings mean they may well find life a little more comfortable then their promoted counterparts.

The battle for relegation is growing in numbers with every season, is Villa can make their home ground a fortress, relegation will not be a concern and they can look up towards a mid-table finish.

Expected starting XI

Heaton; Guilbert, Mings, Engels, Targett;  Hourihane, McGinn, Grealish;  Jota, El Ghazi, Wesley.


About Author

Comments are closed.