Aston Villa 2020/21 Season Preview: Strengths, Weaknesses, Key Man & Prediction

Dean Smith has a job on his hands but Villa are capable of doing something bigger this year.
Dean Smith has a job on his hands but Villa are capable of doing something bigger this year. | PETER POWELL/Getty Images

Having achieved their objective of avoiding relegation in 2019/20, the pressure is on Dean Smith to, not just survive in the Premier League this season, but thrive and finish closer to mid-table. And by keeping their best players - particularly club captain Jack Grealish - and adding a little more depth to their squad, Villa will certainly be capable of achieving that.

So ahead of their 20th September season opener at home to Sheffield United, we take a look at everything good, bad and ugly about the Villans.

Strengths

Mentality

Villa pulled off an unlikely escape last year.
Villa pulled off an unlikely escape last year. | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Villa were sat in 19th place prior to the Premier League's suspension and seemed destined to return to the Championship.

Yet they managed to engineer last season’s 'great escape' by winning eight points from their final four games to climb above both Watford and Bournemouth in the table. In doing so they proved that they were mentally strong and capable of not crumbling under immense pressure.

Leadership

The two strengths go hand in hand really.

Club captain Grealish, as well as England international Tyrone Mings, are fantastic leaders in this Villa team. Mings in particular is a vocal leader of the backline, and having this presence in defence makes Dean Smith's side a much better unit all round.

Weaknesses

Defensive Struggles

Jack Grealish, Andriy Yarmolenko
Villa rely on Jack Grealish all too often. | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Only relegated Norwich conceded more goals than Villa in the league during the 2019/20 campaign, so it goes without saying then that they need reinforcements at the back.

New signing Matty Cash should give them a little more balance on the right side of defence, but overall the whole backline needs to tighten up - particularly at set-pieces. If they concede as many goals as they did last year (67), they could find themselves in yet another relegation dogfight.

A One-Man Team?

Villa fans won't like this, but they sometimes do look like a bit of a one-man team in attack. Everything last season went through Grealish as the others around him (perhaps with the exception of John McGinn) largely struggle to imposed themselves in the final third.

Now of course you want to use your best players, that's understandable, but what happens if Grealish has a bad game? Where is plan B? That's a question Dean Smith will need to find the answer to this summer.

Key Man

Grealish is by far Villa's most important player.
Grealish is by far Villa's most important player. | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Obviously Grealish is their star man. Born and raised in Birmingham, Grealish has given everything for his hometown club and will continue to do so for however long he is there.

No one played more minutes for Villa than Grealish last season, as the midfielder grabbed eight goals and six assists to help save his side from relegation. Keeping him in the long-term may be difficult, but if the 24-year-old does stay this season, he will again be the main man at Villa Park.

Prediction

Fans should be optimistic should Grealish stay.
Fans should be optimistic should Grealish stay. | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Villa's total of 35 points in last year’s Premier League was the lowest return for a team to survive relegation in the last 10 years (West Ham gained 35 points in 2009/10), so they will need to massively improve upon this to achieve their goals during the upcoming campaign.

Keeping Grealish for another year will be massive however, and if Villa show the same resolve as they did in the last few weeks of the campaign, there is no reason why they can't comfortably avoid the drop.

Prediction15th.