Aston Villa has been one of the Premier League’s most in-form clubs since Unai Emery took the managerial realm at the expense of Steven Gerrard.
The English coach had Villa dangling around the relegation spots prior to his dismissal in October. The squad had been partially hampered by injuries, but it certainly had the quality to compete much higher up the table despite that.
The Emery effect
Emery has gotten the absolute best out of his squad since he arrived – he took the Villans from relegation candidates to earning themselves a European ticket. The Midlands-based side will compete in the UEFA Europa Conference League next season after beating Brighton and Hove Albion on the final day.
Villa have guaranteed themselves a European tour next campaign, and they are seen to be in with a strong chance of sustaining their European status beyond next season. At BetMGM, they are offered at +300 to finish in the Premier League’s top six positions in 2023/24.
Yardbarker offers free bet no deposit bonuses for a variety of sportsbooks including BetMGM, which could be used to predict the outcome of the world’s biggest footballing league next year. The competition is set to be greater than ever next campaign, with the likes of Brighton, Brentford, and Fulham competing alongside Villa to be the best of the rest.
Perhaps Emery’s transformation of Villa could take an even further upturn next season, and they could miraculously threaten the top five positions – which could earn them a UEFA Champions League spot in the competition’s new format in 2024/25.
At the very least, Villa is in a strong position to claim their first European silverware since the Intertoto Cup win of 2008. The club established its place in the European elite by winning the European Cup in 1982.
Emery is strongly suited to write himself into club history, as one of the few coaches to guide Villa to European glory.
The Conference League was claimed by West Ham United last season, as they defeated Italian side Fiorentina 2-1 in the final. Villa will be somewhat expected to ensure that the trophy remains in England come next May.
Emery has the advantage of an exceptionally strong squad, which has been boosted by fresh arrivals, and players returning from injury this Summer.
The new arrivals
Villa’s squad was already rich in depth and quality before entering the transfer market this summer. But they have strengthened in vital areas, with carefully sought-out targets. The players that Villa have signed would not look out of place in Europe’s premier competition the UCL.
Youri Tielemans was the first player in the door at Villa Park following the conclusion of the 2022/23 campaign. He was signed on a free transfer after his Leicester City contract expired. His former club was relegated, but he showed no signs of extending terms ahead of their fate being confirmed.
The Belgian midfielder is an all-round technician in the center of the park. He boasts an extremely versatile passing range and the occasional long-range screamer to break the resistance of low-block defenses. He averaged four goals per season for Leicester, an excellent return for a player with the primary role of assisting others.
Tielemans famously scored the only goal in the FA Cup final of 2021, as Leicester lifted the trophy for the first time. The former Anderlecht prodigy was often the man for the big occasion for the Foxes, and that could be crucial for Villa against the strongest opponents in the Conference League.
He fits Villa’s system perfectly, and there are multiple high-energy midfield runners that will surround him in the middle of the park. The likes of Douglas Luiz and John McGinn will play box-to-box roles freeing up Tielemans to be the team’s primary playmaker from the deep areas.
The Belgian can be likened to a classic deep-lying playmaker, in the sense he always makes himself available to receive the ball from his teammates. He will hugely benefit Emery’s side in offensive transition – he can quickly help spring attacks with his extensive passing range which could make the team extremely effective on the counterattack.
The former Leicester man had been linked to huge clubs such as Liverpool and Arsenal in the past year. It is simply a stunning coup for Emery and the perfect supplement to an already strong midfield ahead of Villa’s European charge.
Aston Villa unveiling Youri Tielemans as new signing, completed weeks ago — here’s Belgian midfielder in Villa shirt. 🟣🔵👕 #AVFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 1, 2023
Next one: Pau Torres, but next week and not this weekend. pic.twitter.com/8FDTDh2pTI
The other crucial signing Villa made this summer was another hugely significant one that was also on the radar of major clubs across Europe. Pau Torres arrived from Villarreal for a fee of around $38 million. The Spanish defender brings a wealth of experience with him such as a Europa League win under his belt.
Torres is a specialist left-sided ball-playing defender that like Tielemans, will help the team to launch effective counter-attacks. Emery’s philosophy at Villa has been to maintain a deep defensive structure, with a willingness to hurt the opposition in transition.
Torres suits that perfectly – he is a dominant aerial defender, with high-level technical attributes for a central defensive player. Line-breaking through balls from defense to attack should be a formality next season with the Spaniard in the team.
The likes of Manchester City and Liverpool are in desperate need of a specialist defender with the identical profile of Torres. Yet again, Emery added a top player to his squad, that could have easily signed for a team in a higher-rate European competition.
Emery produced a remarkable turnaround at Villa last year, he quickly helped the squad adapt to his philosophy despite lacking the necessary profiles in some areas.
Torres will provide the ball-playing skills at the back that Tyrone Mings simply does not possess. Tielemans is the genuine technician that Villa’s engines in the middle of the park were in huge need of.
Moussa Diaby is the most recent signing that Emery has made. He adds further firepower to a range of versatile profiles already available in attack for the Spanish coach.
Another top-class addition, that was the next priority for Villa after they strengthened the spine of the starting eleven.
Diego Carlos’ return from injury
Diego Carlos was a defensive signing made by Gerrard last summer, but he, unfortunately, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury that meant he was sidelined for his entire debut season.
The Brazilian defender is also a former Europa League champion, and could now form a stunning partnership with Torres at the centre of defence. Deploying a duo of stars at the back that have already tasted European success is ideal for Villa’s aspirations of European success next May.
Ezri Konsa and Mings were the defensive partnership for Villa last campaign. Both are strong defenders on their day, but they lack the ball-playing abilities of Carlos and Torres.
Emery’s system requires numerous excellent technicians in order for the team to successfully play out from the back. The former duo perhaps held the team back at times, but the Spanish coach still led them to European qualification in spite of that.
Villa has an excellent goalkeeper in FIFA World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez. Matty Cash, Lucas Digne, and Alex Moreno provide stunning depth in the fullback positions. The midfield is filled with all-round engines.
✅ The Best FIFA Men's Player: Lionel Messi— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 27, 2023
✅ The Best FIFA Men's Coach: Lionel Scaloni
✅ The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper: Emiliano Martínez
Argentina swept The Best FIFA Awards 🇦🇷🏆 pic.twitter.com/Y30NIoCFyg
The new signings and Carlos’ return from injury present an ideal addition to an already strong defensive unit. Emery has acquired players that can carry out the necessary roles when in possession of the ball as well as when defending off the ball. With excellent forward options such as Philippe Coutinho, Ollie Watkins, and Leon Bailey, Villa’s overall squad is in an exceptionally strong position to claim European silverware next year.
- ICC Cricket World Cup 2023: Full squad lists of all 10 teams
- Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool – prediction, team news, line-ups
- Memsie Stakes – A Look at the Past Winners
- Five League Cup matches to watch this week
- Preview: Chelsea vs Aston Villa – prediction, team news, line-ups
- Preview: Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur – prediction, team news, line-ups
- Aston Villa eye Europa Conference League success after impressive 2022-23 season
- Could Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City Go Unbeaten This Season?
- Chelsea starlet agrees new contract ahead of potential January exit
- West Ham eye another European trophy after Conference League success last season