Steve Gerrard takes control of his first full season as Aston Villa manager. Can he stamp his authority on the squad and push them towards Europe?
What happened last year?
In November last year, Dean Smith lost his job off the back of five successive losses in the league and Gerrard left Rangers to take up the vacant job at Villa Park. He started well, winning three of his first five but struggled to maintain consistency throughout the course of the season, ultimately finishing 14th. The Villains pulled off a huge scoop in January, signing Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona, a move which has now been made permanent. They didn’t perform particularly well in the Cups either, failing to make it past the third round in both the FA Cup and League Cup.
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After making the deal for Philippe Coutinho permanent this summer, Villa have gone in for his Brazilian teammate Diego Carlos. The big centre-half signs from Seville for just shy of £30 million. In his three-year stint in Spain, he won the 2020 Europa League, reached the last 16 of the Champions League and won Gold at the 2020 Olympic Games with Brazil. This signing is a massive statement of intent by the team based in B6, adding a player of such calibre to a squad already consisting of several international players really shows the direction Villa are hoping to go. It also shows the pulling power of Steven Gerrard as manager, given Villa failed to attract the same calibre of player during Dean Smith’s tenure.
Villa pulled off a great signing by scooping Boubacar Kamara from Marseille on a free transfer, potentially one of the shrewdest bits of business this summer. The 22-year-old has been one of the most anticipated players in Europe for the past few seasons and has been called up to the French national team on three occasions so far. He was heavily tipped to make a move the Atletico Madrid earlier in the summer, but Aston Villa swooped in and offered him a chance to play in the Premier League. This could be Villa’s signing of the summer as he has the potential to fill the defensive midfield void that has been missing since their promotion back to the Premier League in 2019.
And who’s out?
This deal may have slipped under the radar, but Trézéguet has completed a switch to Turkish side Trabzonspor for £4 million. The Egyptian winger spent last season on loan at Basaksehir and impressed, contributing to 10 goals in 13 games. Before this, he was a key figure for Villa In their first season back in the Premier League scoring the dramatic late winning goal vs Leicester which saw Villa progress to the EFL Cup final in 2020, ultimately losing to City 1-0. Ever since then he has been a squad player and with playing time likely to be limited, a move to Turkey was his best option.
Who is their star man?
Although Matty Cash won player of the season last year, it is hard to overlook Philippe Coutinho as Villa’s star man. The tricky Brazilian winger has a trophy cabinet many players could only dream of and he won the Champions League back in 2020 with Bayern Munich. Many would say his best days are behind him but on his day, he can win a game single-handedly, just look at his performances on his debut against Manchester United and Leeds United. If he can keep fit and in-form, he is sure to be a huge player for Villa this season and could be the key to any success with his former teammate Steven Gerrard guiding him.
What can we expect from them in 2022/23?
With Steven Gerrard having his first full pre-season with the team to implement his philosophy, and the addition of quality players in much needed positions, it is fair to say Villa should achieve better than last season’s finish. Gerrard has spoken about wanting to break into the top six and qualify for Europe with the odds of this happening as low as 9/2.
Where do the odds project them to finish?
Any recommended bets?
The Premier League is always unpredictable, especially around the mid table teams, with one always surpassing everyone’s expectations. Villa certainly have the squad to challenge the top of the pack but managing to do so is a different story and they are currently at 6/1 best odds to get into the top six. They have a good chance of doing this with the calibre of players at their disposal and with odds of a top half finish at 17/20 best, this bet makes the most sense should they fail to maintain the consistency to challenge for Europe.