Premier League Preview and Prediction: Aston Villa vs West Ham United

Competition: Premier League – Aston Villa vs. West Ham United

Venue: Villa Park – Saturday, December 26 – 15:00 GMT (10:00 ET)

Match Odds: Aston Villa 8/5 – Draw 11/5 – West Ham United 7/4

Match Preview

The Premier League‘s bottom side Aston Villa welcome West Ham United to Villa Park on a full set of fixtures on Boxing Day.

Aston Villa sit bottom of the table and things are looking bleak for the home side, they have to start getting points on the board.

Rémi Garde will be doing all he can behind the scenes to help motivate his players to give them the belief and confidence they so desperately need.

Villa’s hard earned point last weekend could be a turning point and now is the time to build on that result. Every game will have huge implications on the battle against the drop.

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West Ham appear to have run out of steam in their mid-season dip in form, having drawn their last four games on the bounce.

They have not been helped by injuries and have many first team players ruled out, but squad depth is important more than ever during this busy festive period.

This is a good chance for the Hammers to pick up three points but with both sides struggling to find a win it is difficult to see which way this tie will go.

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Team News

Aston Villa have three injury concerns, as Jordan Amavi is set to miss out while Gary Gardner and Micah Richards are doubts.

West Ham’s progress this season appears to have been halted after injuries to key players. Andy Carroll is a doubt while Manuel Lanzini, Victor Moses, Dimitri Payet, Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho all look set to miss out.

Key Points

Aston Villa’s last five in the Premier League: L/L/D/L/D

West Ham United’s last five in the Premier League: L/D/D/D/D

Key Stat: Villa haven’t won in their last 16 Premier League outings and it is easy to see why confidence is so low. West Ham have kept three clean sheets on the bounce.

Key Player: Jordan Ayew – Villa’s top scorer in the Premier League this season has shown his potential in games but needs to perform consistently to help his side build up some points to boost their chances of avoiding relegation. He will be confident after his screamer last weekend.

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Score Prediction

Aston Villa 1-1 West Ham United: These two sides haven’t had much to shout about in recent weeks but Villa have picked up two draws in their last three games, which is an improvement. West Ham seem to have lost their killer touch in games, a draw looks a likely outcome.

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Newcastle vs Aston Villa

Competition: Premier League – Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa

Venue: St James’ Park – Saturday, December 19 – 17:30 GMT (12:30 ET) 

Match Odds: Newcastle 1/1 – Draw 12/5 – Aston Villa 11/4

Match Preview

Newcastle host struggling Aston Villa in a huge Premier League clash on Saturday evening in a game between two sides already involved in an early season relegation fight.

The home side have picked up their form in the past two weeks, picking up wins against Liverpool and Tottenham in games that looked daunting beforehand.

Steve McClaren’s side are still embroiled in a relegation fight as they sit just two points above the drop zone and will see fixtures like this one as an absolute must win.

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Villa travel to Newcastle in crisis. They sit bottom of the table heading into Christmas and are eight points from safety. The odds are stacked against them and their recent form won’t exactly give travelling fans confidence this weekend.

The Villains haven’t won since the opening weekend and have lost 12 of 15 games since. They have just six points from 16 games and are in a real mess.

To put their terrible run into perspective, Newcastle have picked up as many points in their last two games as Villa have all season.

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Add in the fact that Newcastle’s recent record against Villa is excellent (they’ve not lost to Aston Villa in their last eight meetings, winning five), and it’s hard to see the visiting side picking up anything from Tyneside on Saturday.

Team News

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren has a worryingly long injury list at the worst time of the year. As many as ten first team names will miss this one in the shape of Massadio Haidara, Rolando Aarons, Curtis Good, Tim Krul, Gabriel Obertan, Steven Taylor, Cheick Tiote, Michael Williamson, Emmanuel Riviere and Jamaal Lascelles.

Aston Villa head coach Remi Garde is sweating over the fitness of Micah Richards ahead of this crunch clash. The English defender is likely to miss the game, while Jordan Amavi remains out for the season. Gary Gardner is also ruled out, while Jose Angel Crespo is a doubt.

Key Points

Newcastle’s last five: W/L/L/W/W

Aston Villa’s last five: D/L/L/D/L

Key Stat: Aston Villa have not won at Newcastle since 2005 and are winless against the Magpies in their last eight league games.

Key Player: Chancel Mbemba – The Newcastle centre-back has quietly been impressing on Tyneside since moving to the Premier League in the summer. He has completed more tackles than any other centre-back in the top flight and will look to shutout the Villa defence here.

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Score Prediction

Newcastle 2-0 Aston Villa – Newcastle have hardly been the best side in the Premier League this season but you don’t have to be to beat Aston Villa nowadays. Back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Spurs have lifted confidence among the Toon faithful and a win against Villa on Saturday should make it three from three.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Aston Villa vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – Aston Villa vs. Manchester City

Venue: Villa Park – Sunday, November 8 – 13:30 GMT (08:30 ET)

Match Odds: Aston Villa 13/2 – Draw 15/4 – Manchester City 2/5

Match Preview

Aston Villa take on Manchester City as the Premier League’s bottom side look to beat the leaders at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon in what will be Remi Garde’s first game in charge of the Villains.

Garde arrives at Villa needing to fix things very quickly. The club are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League after picking up just four points from 11 games so far and are seemingly heading for relegation.

The Frenchman is facing an uphill battle and the visit of Manchester City gives him about as tough a challenge as he could have had in his first outing.

Aston Villa’s Premier League record: P11 – W1 – D1 – L9

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Villa fell 3-1 to Tottenham on Monday night and have now lost seven games in a row in the top flight. They have never lost eight consecutive Premier League games.

City travel to Villa Park as overwhelming favourites to pick up a ninth win in 12 league games and will be in fine spirits following Tuesday night’s 3-1 Champions League win at Sevilla.

Manuel Pellegrini is still set to be without star attackers Sergio Aguero and David Silva but the Citizens are unbeaten in four and managed to edge past Norwich 2-1 last weekend thanks to a late Yaya Toure penalty.

Manchester City’s Premier League record: P11 – W8 – D1 – L2

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They know a win here will keep them at the top of the table heading into the upcoming international break and they are fully expected to seal three points.

City beat Villa 2-0 in the same fixture last season before then winning 3-2 at the Etihad in April. They have won seven of the last eight league meetings between the sides.

Team News

Remi Garde could have a fully fit squad to choose his first starting lineup from. Micah Richards returns following suspension, while only doubts hang over Ashley Westwood and Gabriel Agbonlahor who both came off at Tottenham on Monday. Many will be watching Garde’s first team selection with interest.

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is still set to be without Sergio Aguero, while fellow Argentine Pablo Zabaleta is also still injured. David Silva could return but is doubtful to be risked, while the same applies to Samir Nasri. Former Villain Fabian Delph is back but is unlikely to start against his former club.

Key Points

Aston Villa’s last five in the Premier League: L/L/L/L/L

Manchester City’s last five in the Premier League: L/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Aston Villa have never lost eight consecutive Premier League games in a row. They would become just the fifth club in league history to lose at least eight in a row with defeat here.

Key Player: Vincent Kompany – Manchester City are a better side when their captain plays. They have conceded just one Premier League goal when the Belgian has started and will hope that record continues at Villa Park.

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Score Prediction

Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City – Tough to see Villa sealing a win in Remi Garde’s first game in charge. City will be too strong for the hosts but could be made to work for a win as the Villa players will be desperate to impress their new manager in a very tricky first game for the Frenchman.

STATS: Chelsea projected to battle relegation based on recent history

Chelsea’s problems so far this season have been documented far and wide. Jose Mourinho is under enormous pressure to turn things around after watching his side lose six of their first 11 games in the Premier League.

The Portuguese manager’s job is under threat, according to multiple reports, and there is little wonder when you look at the fate of other Premier League sides that have started with identical records in recent years.

Five sides have started the season with the same record as Chelsea (W3 D2 L6) over the past four campaigns, with three of those going on to suffer relegation by the end of the season.

Table: The last five sides to start with identical league records to Chelsea after 11 games.

Table: The last five sides to start with identical league records to Chelsea after 11 games.

West Bromwich Albion managed to turn their season around despite a poor start in the 2011/12 season as they ended up finishing 10th with 47 points unde Roy Hodgson’s guidance.

However, Wolves struggled badly after an identical start, going on to finish bottom of the table and suffering relegation to the Championship.

Wigan (2012/13) and Norwich (2013/14) also suffered relegation after picking up 11 points from 11 games and so using the word crisis to describe Chelsea’s start is hardly an overreaction.

Table: Finishing position of last five sides to start season with same record as Chelsea

Table: Finishing position of last five sides to start season with same record as Chelsea.

Using these statistics as a guide, it appears as though Chelsea’s problems will only worsen.

Although that’s not accounting for the fact that they’ve got a squad of elite professionals, many of whom lifted the title just six months ago.

Table: Chelsea's projected league finish based on recent history of sides with same starting record.

Table: Chelsea’s projected league finish based on recent history of sides with same starting record.

As the projection above shows, Chelsea look set to end the year in a relegation battle. That’s based on the last five teams’ finishes after starting with the same 11-point record through 11 games.

Finishing on that projected 36-point tally would be Chelsea’s lowest amount accrued in the Premier League era. The last time they picked up fewer points was back in the Football League First Division in the 1978/79 season (20).

Mourinho is in the middle of the biggest challenge of his managerial career and the spotlight is fully fixed on the Blues.

Their next Premier League game comes away at Stoke. Chelsea were eliminated from the League Cup last Wednesday after losing on penalties away at Stoke and so it’s difficult to see them picking up three points.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Tottenham vs Aston Villa

Competition: Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa

Venue: White Hart Lane – Monday, November 2 – 20:00 GMT (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: Tottenham 4/9 – Draw 100/30 – Aston Villa 6/1

Match Preview

Tottenham host Aston Villa in this week’s Monday night game at White Hart Lane as they look to stretch their unbeaten league run to ten against a managerless Aston Villa side in real trouble.

Villa sacked Tim Sherwood following last week’s 2-1 home defeat to Swansea – their sixth straight loss in the Premier League – and so the former Spurs head coach won’t be returning to his former stomping ground for this one.

Remi Garde is being tipped to take over at Villa Park but doesn’t look likely to be in the dugout in time for Monday’s game so Kevin MacDonald will take charge.

Spurs will look to pile more misery on the Villains as they look to remain unbeaten, while also seeking revenge for last season’s 1-0 home loss to Villa.

Tottenham’s Premier League record: P10 – W4 – D5 – L1

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Mauricio Pochettino’s side won 5-1 away at Bournemouth last Sunday with Harry Kane grabbing a hat-trick to silence some of his critics. His link up play with Christian Eriksen seems to be back to its most dangerous and that will excite the home crowd on Monday.

Aston Villa sit bottom of the Premier League after ten games and are looking set for another season in and out of the relegation zone, something that’s becoming worryingly normal for the club.

Aston Villa’s Premier League record: P10 – W1 – D1 – L8

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Last week’s 2-1 home loss to Swansea was their sixth defeat in a row. Their only win this year came away from home, though and so they can’t be ruled out completely.

Villa ended a six-game losing streak to Spurs by winning 1-0 at White Hart Lane in April and will hope a repeat performance can lead to the same outcome.

Team News

Spurs come into the game with several injury worries still troubling Mauricio Pochettino. Nabil Bentaleb, Heung Min Son, Alex Pritchard, Nacer Chadli and Federico Fazio are all out, while Tom Carroll is a doubt.

Aston Villa travel to London with news that Micah Richards is likely to miss the game as a result of an FA charge after his behaviour after the Swansea defeat. Joleon Lescott is also a doubt, along with Gary Gardner and Tiago Ilori.

Key Points

Tottenham’s last five in the Premier League: W/W/D/D/W

Aston Villa’s last five in the Premier League: L/L/L/L/L

Key Stat: Tottenham currently boast the longest unbeaten streak in the Premier League (9).

Key Player: Harry Kane – Impossible to overlook Harry Kane as the key man here. He comes into this game off the back of a hat-trick at Bournemouth last weekend and will look to kick on by hurting a Villa side that has conceded 16 goals in their last eight league games.

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Score Prediction

Tottenham 2-0 Aston Villa – Tottenham have been very tight at the back this year and will see Monday’s game as the ideal opportunity to pick up a second straight clean sheet. They should prove to be too strong for Villa.

Opinion: Why Spurs should offload Andros Townsend this month

With England winger Andros Townsend continuously being linked with a move away from Spurs this month, Louis East argues whether it’s time for the North London club to cash in.

Tottenham’s Andros Townsend is a man in demand. The 24-year-old winger has fallen down the pecking order at Spurs since Mauricio Pochettino arrived and is now a £12 million target for a host of Premier League sides.

It is believed that former manager Tim Sherwood wants him at Aston Villa, while Newcastle, Sunderland and London rivals West Ham are also keen to secure the England international’s services.

Spurs are reportedly willing to sell their academy product if an offer of at least £12 million arrives before the end of the transfer window. But should they be so willing to let him go?

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Playing time isn’t guaranteed for Townsend this season, especially as he found it difficult to force his way into Pochettino’s first-team plans last term. He missed the opening day trip to Old Trafford with a shoulder injury and played no part in their preseason trips to the USA and Germany.

He may be back in training now but it’s hard to envisage Townsend getting many league starts this season. Nacer Chadli, Moussa Dembele and Erik Lamela are all ahead of the pacey wide-man at this point, with the Lilywhites still looking to strengthen out wide as Clinton N’Jie is reportedly closing in on a move to England.

That could see Townsend settling for regular Europa League games on Thursday nights and cameo appearances from the bench in the league – something that the player himself wouldn’t be too keen on ahead of the European Championships at the end of the season.

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Despite his lack of playing time at club level, Roy Hodgson remains a big fan of Townsend but there’s only so little action a player can see before he is overlooked for a place in an international tournament squad.

Spurs supporters were excited when Townsend burst onto the scene two years ago after more than nine loan spells at English clubs, but he has since grown very predictable and sections of White Hart Lane can be heard groaning with every wasted step-over the academy product pulls off.

Andros Townsend's Spurs stats from past two seasons (via Squawka)

Andros Townsend’s Spurs stats from past two seasons (via Squawka)

Too many wasteful crosses and off-target longshots have seen Townsend’s path to stardom halted. A fresh start at another top-flight club, with regular game time guaranteed would give him another chance to prove his quality, and would surely secure him a place in Hodgson’s England squad for Euro 2016.

Spurs are actively looking for new wingers, while a new wave of young talent, headed by Alex Pritchard will only make it more difficult for Townsend to forge his way back to where he was when Tim Sherwood was in charge in 2014.

Time looks to be up and with Spurs looking to secure the signing of N’Jie for an estimated £12 million, Townsend will more than likely be sold to pay for the signing of the young Cameroon international.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Aston Villa vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Aston Villa FC vs. Manchester United FC

Venue: Villa Park – Friday, August 14 – 19:45 BST (14:45 ET) 

Match Odds: Aston Villa 4/1 – Draw 14/5 – Man United 4/6

Match Preview

Aston Villa face Manchester United in a rare Friday night Premier League clash to kickstart Week 2’s action in what should be a great contest.

Tim Sherwood’s side got off to great start with a 1-0 win over AFC Bournemouth last weekend and will now hope to make it two wins in two in their home opener against the Red Devils.

United also sealed a 1-0 victory as a Kyle Walker own goal saw them beat Spurs in the season’s opening fixture on Saturday lunchtime and they will be expected to win this one too.

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Villa need to try and end a worrying run of form against United though if they are to have any chance of winning this one. It has been 12 games since they last beat United in all competitions, but they have not beaten them at Villa Park in their last 20 meetings.

Last year’s game at Villa ended 1-1 as Radamel Falcao equalised following a fine Christian Benteke goal. Both forwards are no longer with their respective teams and new faces will hope to shine in this one for both managers.

United didn’t look too strong in their win over Spurs on Saturday, but now have a chance to put in a commanding performance with the rest of the country watching on Friday night.

The same goes for Villa, who need to try and assure themselves they will steer well clear of any relegation troubles this season after last year’s disappointing campaign.

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Team News

Aston Villa will be without Carles Gil, Jose Angel Crespo, Gary Gardner, Jack Grealish, Chris Herd and Jores Okore for their home opener. Tim Sherwood is unlikely to make many changes from his team that beat Bournemouth last weekend, but match winner Rudy Gestede should start after coming on as a substitute, with Jordan Ayew most likely to make way.

Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal could opt to start with Sergio Romero in goal for the second straight game as David De Gea’s future remains unclear, while Marouane Fellaini (suspension), Phil Jones (blood clot) and Marcos Rojo (fitness) are all set to miss out too. Bastian Schweinsteiger will be pushing for a first start but Michael Carrick is likely to keep his place alongside Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield.

Key Points

Aston Villa’s form: W

Manchester United’s form: W

Key Stat: Manchester United have not lost away at Aston Villa in any of their last 20 matches in all competitions.

Key Player: Rudy Gestede – The new Villa signing made himself an instant hit with the supporters as he headed them to three points on the opening day. A first league start is due and he will look to cause United all kinds of problems in the air.

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Score Prediction

Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester United – Both sides got off to a flying start and should remain unbeaten after this contest. United are favourites but didn’t look sharp enough on Saturday and if the same can be said on Friday, they will likely come up short. Villa would be pleased with a draw and that could well be the end result on Friday.

STATS: Should Aston Villa fans be excited about new signing Jordan Amavi?

Much of the focus on Aston Villa this transfer window has been on outgoings as Fabian Delph has already joined Manchester City, with Christian Benteke expected to complete a £32.5 million move to Liverpool this week.

But while those two losses will undoubtedly worry Villa supporters, they have reason for optimism ahead of Tim Sherwood’s first full season in management.

Scott Sinclair has joined on a permanent deal, while Idrissa Gueye, Mark Bunn and Micah Richards have also arrived. But the most exciting addition to the Villa squad so far looks to be Jordan Amavi after the French left-back joined on a five-year contract from OGC Nice for a fee believed to be around £9 million.

Jordan Amavi Statistics Graph

Graph: Jordan Amavi’s statistics over the past two league campaigns with Nice

Amavi is only 21, but has already shown bundles of promise playing in Ligue 1 over the past two season and progressed enormously last season as he missed just two league games. Arsenal were linked with his signature before his move to Villa was confirmed, so he is clearly held in high esteem.

The France Under-21 international netted four goals and created 32 chances for teammates (via Squawka) in what was an impressive campaign that saw him ranked as the second best player in the division behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to WhoScored.

Left-back has been a position that several Villa managers have tried to fix over the past seven seasons since Wilfred Bouma suffered an ankle injury that ended his Villa career in July 2008.

Amavi will look to be the ideal man to occupy the role over the course of the 2015/16 season and beyond, with that five-year contract something Villains supporters will be excited about.

His age could be a concerning factor as he is still inexperienced, especially for a defender stepping into the Premier League for the first time, while he will also need to ensure he remains disciplined after he picked up the joint second-highest number of yellow cards in Ligue 1 last term with 11.

Aston Villa have a relatively easy start to the season with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Leicester and West Brom in five of their opening six games, though Manchester United travel to Villa Park in the second week of the campaign in what will be a real test.

Will Jordan Amavi prove a hit at Aston Villa? 

Could Chelsea beat Liverpool to this £32.5m star to replace MLS bound Drogba?

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is set to leave the club with MLS his most likely destination, leaving the Blues with only two recognised Premier League forwards on the books in the shape of Diego Costa and Loic Remy.

Jose Mourinho will expectedly be lining up a replacement for the Ivorian as both Costa and Remy are prone to injuries, so strength in depth could be the key to retaining the Premier League crown next season.

It has been revealed this week that Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke has a buyout clause of £32.5m and manager Tim Sherwood has admitted that should anyone meet the asking price, there is nothing Villa can do to stop him leaving.

“There’s a buyout clause in his contract so it will be impossible for us to stop him if he wants to go. Someone’s got to meet that buyout clause and if they don’t, it won’t be considered because we don’t want to lose him,” said Sherwood, as reported by The Guardian.

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Benteke enjoyed an impressive end to the season with Villa, netting 11 times in his final 11 league games, as well as helping them to the FA Cup final with a goal in the 2-1 semi-final win over Liverpool.

Sherwood knows that the cup final could be the Belgian striker’s last game for the club but has urged him to stay at Villa Park in order to hold out for a possible dream move next summer.

“We’re building up to a European Championship, which is a huge stage for Christian, and a tournament where you feel that Belgium will be one of the favourites to win it. By playing for Aston Villa it hasn’t hindered him being the first choice for Belgium up to now.

“If he were to stay here and score at the ratio that he has since I took over, and ends up with 20 or 30 goals next season and then has a good Euros, he is probably playing for Real Madrid [by 2016]. Christian could go to the best club in the world if he scores 30 goals next season. He could be that good.”

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Liverpool have already been strongly linked with the 24-year-old but a move to a side playing Champions League football could be more appealing.

Because of Benteke’s stature and strength, he is a player in a similar mould to Drogba and would suit Chelsea’s style of play under Mourinho, who likes physically imposing forwards to lead the line, therefore making the Belgian an ideal replacement.

Could Christian Benteke move to Chelsea this summer?

2014/15 Premier League Season Review: Aston Villa

Premier League Final Position: 17th

Review

It was another frustrating season for Aston Villa fans as the threat of relegation hung over the club for most of the campaign, before managing to narrowly survive. Tim Sherwood turned the fortunes around when he took over in February but the Villains end the season with their joint lowest points tally in the top flight.

They do still have an FA Cup final against Arsenal to look forward to and success at Wembley would deem the campaign a good one, but the fact remains that things weren’t good enough and Sherwood must now try and bring the club back to a level it should be at.

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Podcast Review

Best Moment

The 1-0 win away at Spurs was probably the club’s best win in the league as the result moved them six points clear of the relegation zone with five games to go. Sherwood managed to seal all three points against his former club and the team followed up success at White Hart Lane with an FA Cup semi-final win against Liverpool just eight days later.

Worst Moment

The 2-0 loss at Hull in February was a bad defeat and that game spelled the end for Paul Lambert as he was replaced by Sherwood after that match. The loss at Southampton at the end of the season was bad but they weren’t in major trouble at that point.

Player of the Year

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Fabian Delph – Didn’t score this season but picked up three assists and was probably the only player to consistently perform. He penned a new contract back in January and was rewarded for his performances over the season with England call ups.

Biggest Win

Sunderland 0-4 Aston Villa (March 14, 2015)

Biggest Defeat

Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa (February 1, 2015)

Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa (May 16, 2015)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

There’s still a lot that needs improving at Villa. They must escape the dangers of relegation and try to compete for a top half finish once again. That’s easier said than done but Tim Sherwood may be the man to bring success back to the club. The transfer window will be crucial as retaining star players, or bringing in suitable replacements will be vital. Scoring more goals will be the main aim as they struggled for large parts of the season in front of goal, netting just 31 times.