Premier League season preview: Aston Villa - predicted finish 17th

Lambert and Keane are looking for an improvement this season. Photo: PA

Predicted finish: 17th

Transfers so far:

Ins: Joe Cole (West Ham United), Tom Leggett, Isaac Nehemie (Both Southampton, Undisclosed), Philippe Senderos (Valencia), Kieran Richardson (Fulham), Aly Cissokho (Valencia, Undisclosed)

Outs: Jordan Bowery (Rotherham United, £250,000), Marc Albrighton (Leicester City), Nicklas Helenius (Aalborg, Loan), Yacouba Sylla (Erciyesspor, Loan), Nathan Delfouneso, Aidan Grant, Andras Stieber (All released)

New signings - the verdict:

After an underwhelming season that aspired to be mediocre, Aston Villa will be looking to progress. Sadly, their summer business doesn’t inspire hope in Birmingham. A small collection has-beens have been acquired, alongside the fire of new assistant boss Roy Keane.

Joe Cole, whose best days were doing kick ups as a child, has joined from West Ham. Philippe Senderos is back in England after a six-month turnaround in La Liga, which is as long as it takes him to turn at the back. The Swiss defender will be joined by another former Fulham man Kieran Richardson, who has spent the last four years trying to work out if he’s a left-back or not and still no one knows.

They’re quite steady players, but in this super fast league, in a team who have suffered for two years, it might be hard for the incoming stars to ignite anything other the angry views of dissenting supporters, as Villa could face another tricky season.

Aly Cissokho has also somehow earned himself a move back to the Premier League despite being a laughing stock at Anfield last season, but it could have been worse, they could have signed Nicklas Bendtner.

Cole
Joe Cole has joined Villa. Credit: PA

One to watch: Jores Okore

The Danish defender arrived at Villa Park at the start of last season with high hopes of proving he was a Premier League defender. However, it all turned sour very quickly as he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in mid-September, ending his season prematurely.

The big centre-back is quick and powerful, something that has seen him already collect seven caps for Denmark at the age of 21. Next to the experienced Ron Vlaar – himself coming off the back of a superb World Cup – could see Villa possess one of the better Premier League defensive pairings, with Okore learning from his older team-mate.

Okore
Okore could impress this season. Credit: PA

Manager: Paul Lambert

No one seems to know what Paul Lambert’s end-game is – he arrived at Villa, signing up some promising young talents in order to build for the long-term. Since then his side have shown some glimpses of quality, with Belgian striker Christian Benteke being the most impressive of all that have arrived.

But the rest have failed to find consistency – the likes of Ashley Westwood and Matthew Lowton starting brightly, but quickly fading. The situation has not been helped by owner Randy Lerner’s open desire to sell the club, and not investing properly in the squad over the recent seasons.

This year could be Lambert’s last to show he has the ability as a manager to make Villa into a competent Premier League team, but their squad and recent form suggest it will be a serious struggle for them.

Your predictions:

4ibmxax1_normal

@itvfootball 15th. Will struggle till Benteke gets back, but once he's fit he will score the goals to keep us up

0xkvw9d7_normal

@itvfootball 13th, we now have the experiance and depth to progress from last season, because we have managed to keep our key players #avfc

Ln-iabo9_normal

@itvfootball bottom-players apart from benteke, vlaar delph and guzan are championship standard at the best

J8aurvqm_normal

@itvfootball safe & sound in mid table, Why? Because our squad is better than last years. #avfc