Aston Villa: What Can They Achieve This Season?

Following their 1-0 win over Leicester City and the extent of Virgil van Dijk's injury sustained during the Merseyside derby, Aston Villa are being backed to win the title.

Bookmakers have slashed odds on Aston Villa winning the Premier League title from 1000/1 to 66/1 overnight due to a large number of bets on the Midlands club. Villa 1-0 win at Leicester means they are the only side left in the Premier League with a 100% record, following Everton's draw with Liverpool. Now it seems, a large number of punters have put bets on Villa to win the title, causing bookmakers to heavily reduce their odds.

Enough of the public are backing Aston Villa to win the title in the style of Leicester City, who defied the odds to claim the 2015/16 Premier League trophy. With each Premier League side only playing 4 or 5 games so far this season, it might seem a little premature to slash Aston Villa's title odds. However, the bookmakers have learned from Leicester's win, just as the punters have.

Aston Villa: What Can They Achieve This Season?
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 27: John McGinn of Aston Villa celebrates with the trophy following his teams victory in the Sky Bet Championship Play-off Final match between Aston Villa and Derby County at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
  • Man City @ 19/20
  • Liverpool @ 11/3
  • Tottenham @ 14/1
  • Everton @ 22/1
  • Chelsea @ 25/1
  • Man Utd @ 33/1
  • Arsenal @ 33/1
  • Aston Villa @ 66/1
  • Leicester @ 100/1

As you can see, Aston Villa, even with the slashed odds, are still only the eighth pick for the title. Liverpool's odds dropped when van Dijk picked up his long-term injury, and Everton and Spurs' positive starts to the season see them placed next-in-line behind the two big favourites. All of these odds are likely to change based on this weekends' results, but if Aston Villa win, we could see their odds shortened once again.

From Relegation Battlers to Top-Half Contenders

Last season, Aston Villa survived relegation on the final day of the season after securing a 1-1 draw against West Ham. That result saw Villa finish 1pt ahead of Bournemouth and Watford, both of whom were relegated to the Championship. Aston Villa's home record helped keep them in the Premier League, but even at Villa Park they suffered 9 defeats and only won 7 games. On the road, Villa were beaten 12 times and only claimed 2 wins, picking up a total of 11pts on their travels.

However, the 2020/21 campaign has seen the Midlands club claim four wins from their opening four matches, beginning with a 1-0 home win over Sheff Utd. Defender Ezri Konsa scored the only goal of the game shortly after the hour mark. New signings Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Martinez, and Matty Cash all started the game. However, it was the early sending-off of Sheff Utd defender John Edan, and a missed first-half penalty from John Lundstram they set both teams on their polar opposite starts to the campaign.

Villa strengthened even more before the trip to Fulham, bringing in former Chelsea man Bertrand Traore who started on the bench. The visitors looked more confident this game, like the Sheff Utd result, had given them more belief, and after just 4-minutes Grealish put Villa in front. Hourihane doubled the away sides' advantage in the 15th-minute, and early in the second half, defender Mings scored to wrap up all 3pts.

Passing The First True Test

After being knocked out of the League Cup at home by Championship side Stoke City, many expected Aston Villa to crumble when they played host to Liverpool next game. The home side had strengthened even further before the clash with Liverpool, bringing in former Everton midfielder Ross Barkley on-loan from Chelsea. Barkley went straight into the side for a game that will stand out as one of the shock results in Premier League history.

Villa not only beat Liverpool, but they also did it in style. The hosts scored 7-goals to Liverpool's 2, and while there certainly was some luck with a few of the goals being deflected, Villa thoroughly deserved their thumping victory. Watkins scored his first Premier League goal for the club in the 4th-minute and double his, and the teams', tally in the 22nd-minute. Liverpool pulled a goal back through Salah, but McGinn restored Villa's 3-goal advantage minutes later. Watkins rounded off the first half with his hat-trick goal. Barkley got in on the action 10minutes into the second half, scoring on his Villa debut against the old enemy. Salah scored again to threaten a Liverpool comeback, but two further goals from Grealish saw Villa secure all 3pts in the most spectacular way.

Aston Villa: What Can They Achieve This Season?

Even after the Liverpool result, many pundits were backing Aston Villa's bubble to burst away at Leicester. Aston Villa, who had only won one of their last six games against Leicester, weren't being backed by the bookmakers to beat the Foxes. The game actually looked like it was heading for a draw before Ross Barkley netted in injury time to maintain Villa's 100% record.

What Can Aston Villa Achieve This Season?

Ever since Leicester won the Premier League title back in 2016, bookmakers, fans, and pundits are far more cautious when it comes to ruling out any team to win the title in the early stages of the season. Aston Villa have improved in certain areas, but the majority of their squad remains the same as last season. This suggests that confidence and tactics have played a big role in Villa's excellent start to the new season, but the true test will be if or when they do finally lose and how the club responds to defeat.

Confidence can get you a long way, but you need a strong core to your side and a little bit of luck when it comes to injuries and suspensions. Arguably, Leicester had a better squad when they won the league compared to the current crop of Villa players, and they had the element of surprise. Leicester title success means teams expect more from ‘lower' teams, and you can bet that all of the top six sides will be doing extra homework on Aston Villa right now.

Aston Villa deserve credit for the way they have started the season, but it is surely a little too soon to be slashing their title-winning odds or considering them a genuine threat for the title. That point is highlighted more by the fact that nobody has really talked up Everton or Tottenham's title credentials despite their excellent starts to the season. Dean Smith is doing a fantastic job at Villa and won't have entertained the idea of winning the title. Smith will be keen for his players to remain focussed and ignore any of this early-season, over-hyped, speculation.