Aston Villa Season Preview | Premier League Analysis & Betting Pick
Eric Alonso/Getty. Pictured: Moussa Diaby.
Welcome to Action Network's Premier League team previews, where our soccer experts will break down each and every Premier League team ahead of the season, which starts on August 11. Here, I'll take a look at Aston Villa.
Premier League Season Preview – Aston Villa
One of the more fascinating clubs coming into this season is Aston Villa. Things got stale with Steven Gerrard so they made a switch and brought in former Arsenal and PSG manager Unai Emery, who completely turned the club around as they picked up the fifth-most points in the Premier League since he was hired on November 1st and led them to a Europa Conference League spot.
Aston Villa drastically over-performed from November 1st on. Under Emery, they had a +14 goal differential, but their exG differential was only +0.4.
From a tactical perspective, Aston Villa changed into a build up team possession team that plays out of the back, which is a staple of Emery. The moves they made in the summer seem like perfect fits for his system. They brought Pau Torres to play center back from Villarreal linking up with his old manager, they signed Youri Tielemens from Leicester to bolster their midfield and give them another creative option and most importantly they addressed the biggest position of need, which was right wing. They went out and got one of the best right wings in the Bundesliga in Moussa Diaby.
Aston Villa are now going to be in the conversation for a spot in the top six, but there is a scenario where things don’t go as well as things seem to be.
Torres a great signing and you will not find a better progressive ball carrying and passing center back in the market. However, he has played his entire career at the left center back position, which is the same position as Villa’s defensive leader Tyrone Mings.
If Torres takes his position and Mings is relegated to the bench that is going be a massive downgrade to Villa’s defense. Mings is the best defender Villa have defending inside the 18-yard box and he’s in the 91st percentile in aerial dual win percentage in Europe’s top five leagues.
There are a lot of elite physical set piece teams in the Premier League like Brentford, Tottenham, Bournemouth and more that would destroy Aston Villa if they didn’t have Mings. Torres is really poor defending in the air, ranking below the 40th percentile in aerial dual win percentage.
So, why can’t Mings just play as the right center back instead of Konsa? Mings has never played a single minute at that position for his entire career, so transferring him over to that position would be a big gamble for Emery.
Something that Emery has never done was play in a back three, which might make the most sense. It would be a massive change in tactics and it’s something he actually tried against Brentford in the Premier League Summer series when they got three goals scored on them. So, we will see what he decides to go with in defense.
Aston Villa are priced pretty fairly in the market, but with their business this summer they have clearly elevated themselves to being firmly as one of the top nine teams in the Premier League.
Another team that has been near them in the table has been West Ham, but the Hammers lost their best player in Declan Rice and now West Ham have one of the weakest midfields in the Premier League and also haven't signed a player yet this transfer window. So, I love the price on Aston Villa at -163 to finish above West Ham, who honestly could get relegated this season.
Pick: Aston Villa to finish above West Ham (-163 via bet365)