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Premier League 2019/20: Aston Villa vs Arsenal - tactical analysis tactics

Aston Villa need firepower to survive

All told, it was a successful season for Dean Smith and Aston Villa as they survived in the Premier League by the skin of their teeth. However, given the amount of money the club spent in the transfer window last summer, there will definitely be some disappointment that the team couldn’t do better, and this window will need to be used to ensure that Smith has the right players in place to avoid yet another relegation battle next season.

Of course, Villa were indebted to their captain and talisman, Jack Grealish, who dragged the team towards safety, and was the one who struck the goal at West Ham United on the final day which eventually brought them the point they needed. There has been a lot of speculation about Grealish’s future, with Manchester United supposed to be seriously considering a move for the erstwhile England U-21 international. It is quite likely that Grealish will depart from Villa Park in the next few weeks, and Smith will need to find a replacement for him, both on the pitch as well as in terms of his off-field influence.

At the same time, there are other areas which definitely need investment as well. Villa struggled at the back throughout the season, although they tightened up a little once Smith moved to a back three. Nevertheless, a quality centre-back should be high on the priority list, especially with Tyrone Mings also linked to a move away. There is probably a need for a pacey full-back as well, and Norwich City’s Max Aarons could be good option due to the Canaries’ relegation from the Premier League.

Villa need a central midfielder with Premier League experience as well, since both Douglas Luiz and John McGinn will need competition and rotation. The team struggled when either of those two players were unavailable, and Smith will want to have more quality in midfield to be able to improve his side’s play while in possession. The wingers need upgrading as well, and it is here that Smith’s Brentford connections could come in handy. Villa are apparently interested in the Brentford pair of Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma, with Smith having worked with the former while in charge at Griffin Park. Both players have had impressive seasons in the Championship, with Watkins successfully converting to a centre-forward role to score 26 goals last season, and so it will not be easy to prise them away from Brentford. However, Villa definitely need a source of consistent goals – they struggled to put the ball in the back of the net last season, and with Brentford losing in the play-off final, it could make the task of getting one or both these players slightly easier for the Villa hierarchy. Sports betting sites have made Villa the favourites to land Watkins, ahead of other suitors such as Crystal Palace and Newcastle United, but it remains to be seen if a deal can be made.

Aston Villa are set to go on another spending spree in this window in order to consolidate their Premier League position. There is a need for quality additions all across the pitch, but especially in attack, if Villa want to avoid a relegation fight next season, and it is now up to the management to ensure that those players arrive through the gates at Villa Park.