Connect with us

English Premier League

Why Aston Villa Won the Transfer Window

Aston Villa have made an impressive start to the Premier League season and their transfer business was a big part of that.

Aston Villa Premier League

With Carlo Ancelotti at the helm and one of the most naturally gifted attackers in world football – Colombian maestro James Rodriguez – coming in to improve Everton, it should not be too much of a surprise that they have started as well as they have. The blue side of Merseyside have won four of their first six matches and are currently at the summit of the Premier League table.

Hot on leaders Everton’s heels is Aston Villa, who are just one point off the top in third with a game in hand. They were comprehensively outplayed by Leeds United last Friday, but they have been involved in four wins including a sumptuous performance at Villa Park in which they inflicted a 7-2 thrashing on reigning champions, Liverpool. All in all, the team who were in a relegation scrap last season are in a healthier position six rounds into the season.

The season is long and so much can still happen, but there is enough reason to believe that Aston Villa may have had the best transfer window of all the English Premier League sides. Most will say Chelsea did, maybe even Everton, but both those teams are merely trying to close the gap between themselves and their rivals with long term success being the goal. But in the short term, Aston Villa are likely to find themselves comfortably in midtable with a fight for a finish in the top half at the end of this season – a far cry from their fight for survival last season.

Holding on to Grealish

This is all due to their transfer dealings, their biggest coup is a significant retention rather than a signing. Club captain Jack Grealish was the subject of a long pursuit by Manchester United but put all doubts of his commitment to Villa to bed when he signed a new five-year deal.

To put it simply, losing Grealish would have almost certainly consigned Aston Villa to relegation as he is the team’s main source of creativity on attack. He was also Villa’s top goal scorer last season netting the all-important one against West Ham that sealed their Premier League status.

His performance against Liverpool where he scored twice while having a hand in three other goals spoke volumes of his influence in that Villa team, to retain him is surely Villa’s best bit of business in this window.

Easing the load on the star man

Having had to carry Aston Villa for much of last season, Dean Smith has brought in players who look likely to help Grealish in carrying the team. As previously mentioned, the 25-year-old England international was the Villans’ top scorer last season, but in Ollie Watkins Villa have brought in a someone who can almost certainly double Grealish’s eight goals last season. Watkins came in from Brentford after scoring 25 goals in the Championship, only one short of top scorer Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic, proved how prolific he can be when he netted a hat-trick against Liverpool.

Ross Barkley also arrived at Villa Park on loan from Chelsea and showed glimpses of what he can offer against Liverpool. He is potent from distance and adds to the creativity that will be needed to make sure that Watkins gets his chances. Barkley has struggled with injuries in recent seasons and if he can stay fit, Villa will have a central attacking threat which frees up Jack Grealish to create problems out wide.

Expect former Chelsea winger Bertrand Traore who returns to the Premier League to also make a telling impact this season. The Burkinabe international returns a matured player having been a part of Olympique Lyon’s setup for the past three seasons which culminated in a Champions League semi-final. All three signings are great acquisitions for the Villans, even more so for the benefit of a Jack Grealish who has had to singlehandedly had to spearhead the offensive charge of the Birmingham side.

The goalkeeping surprise package

With the Villans’ attack looking in great shape, it may be the goalkeeper that has surprised everyone. A bit part player for many years at Arsenal and having been out on loan as recently as last year, Emiliano Martinez emerged out of Bernd Leno’s shadows after lockdown.

His performances were both assured and commanding featuring prominently in memorable FA Cup and Community Shield victories for Arsenal. The return of Leno meant he would once again be the second choice and in what can only be described as a mutually beneficial move, Dean Smith brought him to Villa Park. Smith has found a commander in goal, while the Argentine finally gets to be the Number 1 for a Premier League team.

Martinez’s performances thus far, including a brilliant penalty save on his debut that meant Villa walked away with all three points suggests it has been an astute bit of business.

Dean Smith’s thinking

The strategic nature of Dean Smith’s signings is certainly something that standouts as having contributed to the great start they have had. All these signings and retention have had an immediate impact. A young right back like Matty Cash – outstanding against Liverpool – was brought in to add defensive steel and also effectively replace players like Ahmed Elmohamady who are getting on in age.

So, it has been a bit of everything in this window for Villa, retaining stars, adding to the attacking strength, additional depth, solidifying the defence and phasing out some of the old guard.

Other clubs who’ve had great transfer windows are new boys Leeds United and Fulham, a few proven internationals were brought in by Marcelo Bielsa. His greatest challenge will be moulding them into a team that can first and foremost ensure they don’t go back to the Championship before he can progress his team to go back to its former glories.

For Scott Parker’s Fulham, some signings have shown glimpses of being solid Premier League players, but they need to find the consistency to match the talent. If players like Ademola Lookman and Ruben Loftus-Cheek find their form and confidence, visits to Craven Cottage could be tricky.

Arsenal, Chelsea and table-topping Everton have done well to bring in players who will improve their squads, but they are merely trying to catch up with the two current Premier League powerhouses that are Manchester City and Liverpool.

Aston Villa seems best placed to fully benefit from their excellent window, the others may take a bit longer to click.

More in English Premier League