Aston Villa have played in the top flight of English football for every season since the 1988/89 and at different times they have been one of the more impressive sides in England with second places in the 89/90 and 92/93 seasons, but the last four campaigns have the team finish no higher than 15th place. They have lost top scorer in the last three seasons Christian Benteke to Liverpool this summer so how will former Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood manage during the 2015/16 season?
Although last season saw Aston Villa reach the final of the FA Cup as they faced, and were beaten 4-0 by, Arsenal there winning form did not extend to other areas of their domestic campaigns as they were beaten by Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup and, despite being safe in the EPL with two games to go, they finished just three points above the relegation zone. Their 31 goals scored was the joint second lowest and their 57 conceded was the third highest in the division, but things were looking a lot more dire for the club by the time Paul Lambert was sacked on February 11th and it was Tim Sherwood who saved the club from relegation.
When Lambert left Villa Park the side had just 22 points from 25 games and had scored just 12 goals all season, but 19 strikes in the final 13 games saw them collect 16 points to stay safe in the top flight. 11 of those 19 goals came from Belgian striker Benteke as he finished the season with almost half Villa’s total at 15.
2015/16 EPL Preview:
Where does Tim Sherwood have to improve at the club if they are to retain their top flight status? As their poor attacking and defensive records showed last season, they must improve all over the field if they are to keep pace with the other sides around them in the bottom half of the Premier League and they certainly have bought in plenty of bodies to do this. Their defence will certainly be strengthened for the upcoming season, but losing Benteke to Liverpool and his 49 goals in 100 appearances will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.
Ins and Outs:
Scott Sinclair – Following a successful loan spell at Villa Park last season that saw the 26 year old midfielder score three times in 12 appearances Tim Sherwood brought Sinclair to the club permanently in his first piece of business this summer. He had lost his way at Manchester City in recent times following an impressive 36 goals in 91 games for Swansea over two seasons and this move to Villa where he will get much more first team football will work out well for both the player and the club.
Micah Richards – Once thought of as one of the brightest defensive talents coming through the ranks in England, Richards is another player who has lost his way at Manchester City. He played almost 250 times for the club since breaking into the side in 2005 but the last three seasons have seen less than 20 matches for City, while he spent last season on loan in Italy with Fiorentina. He moves to Villa on a free transfer to bolster their weak defence as the 27 year old looks to regain his reputation.
Mark Bunn – With Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given leaving Aston Villa this summer Tim Sherwood was looking for an experienced shot stopper to play as back up to number one goalie Brad Guzan and in 30 year old Bunn he has found the right man. He is an adept number two goalkeeper having played for Blackburn and Norwich since 2008 and stepping up more than 90 times when called upon, including when on loan at Leicester City and Sheffield United. He is a safe pair of hands if called upon for the Midlanders.
Idrissa Gueye – The 25 year old defensive midfielder moves to the EPL from France’s Ligue 1 in a deal believed to be worth around £9m to Lille following five seasons, 176 appearances and six goals for the club he broke into the game with. He has been capped 24 times by Senegal and will help improve the defensive side of the team’s issues.
Jordan Amavi – Tim Sherwood has been raiding French clubs this summer and the second player to arrive at Villa Park from Ligue 1 is 21 year old French defender Jordan Amavi. The young left back arrives from Nice where he played more than 50 times over the last two seasons, scoring four times. He has been capped by the French U18, U20 and U21 sides and he’ll now be looking to make his mark on the Premier League.
Jordan Ayew – 23 year old Ghanaian striker broke into the football world with Marseille in 2009 and moved to Lorient last season before signing a five year deal with Villa in a deal believed to be worth around £8m. He is constantly improving and he bagged 13 goals in 28 games last season, while he has already netted eight times in 28 caps for Ghana. Will the developing striker be a capable replacement for Benteke?
José Ángel Crespo – A versatile full back who can play on either the left or right of the defensive four Crespo has spent his career playing in Spain and Italy following his break into the game a decade ago with Sevilla. He joins on a three year deal that cost the Midlands side around half a million pounds from Cordoba who he joined permanently following a loan spell at the Spaniards last season and brings plenty of experience to the Premier League for this season.
As well as this number of players coming into the club there have been a number of players leaving too and as well as Christian Benteke leaving for Liverpool in a £32.5m deal Fabian Delph has joined Man City for £8m while the club made almost £4m from youth academy graduates Andreas Weimann and Matthew Lowton who joined Championship sides Derby and Burnley respectively. The next biggest losses were defender Ron Vlaar whose contract ended and goalkeeper Shay Given while another six players were also released in a busy summer at Villa Park so far.
Aston Villa EPL Preview Bets:
According to online bookmaker 10bet.com the departure of Benteke, as well as the big blows of losing Delph and Vlaar, will hit the Midlanders hard this season. They make the Villans 3001.00 to take the title while being the fifth favourites to be relegated with only the three new sides in Watford, Norwich and Bournemouth plus last season’s strugglers Sunderland ahead of them. Villa can be backed at odds of 4.00 in the 10bet Sportsbook to be relegated from the EPL this season.
The bookmaker also offers odds of Villa being bottom on September 1st at 17.00 and while they have Manchester United at home and Crystal Palace away in their second and third games the other two August clashes of Bournemouth and Sunderland should see them relatively comfortable as the league starts its second month. They are, in fact, a lower price at 12.00 to be in the top four of the league at this stage of the season!
Villa are the joint fifth and fifth outright favourite side to score the fewest and concede the most goals during the 2015/16 EPL season at 6.50 and 6.00 respectively and we feel that Tim Sherwood’s signings will need to settle quickly if they are to avoid these titles and perhaps even relegation to the Championship this season.
We feel that the defining moment of the summer so far has been the loss of Benteke and this will see them really struggle this season and, as such, we are backing Villa to go one better (or worse, depending on your viewpoint) and finish as the league’s lowest scoring side during the 2015/16 campaign at odds of 6.50 with 10bet.com.