Aston Villa

'Aston Villa Have Recruited Really Well'

Aston Villa's sound summer recruitment has contributed to their fine start to the 2020/21 Premier League season, according to Ashley Preece of the Birmingham Mail.
More on this story...

- Aston Villa are the latest visitors to King Power Stadium on Sunday evening (7:15pm kick-off)
- Birmingham Mail reporter Ashley Preece gives his verdict on Villa's season so far
- Preece says Dean Smith deserves a lot of credit for the way he has turned the club's fortunes around
- He believes Villa are a completely different proposition to the last time they faced Leicester in the Premier League

Ahead of Villa's trip to King Power Stadium on Sunday (7:15pm kick-off), journalist Preece gives an insight into Leicester City's next opponents.

The acquisitions of Emi Martínez, Matty Cash, Ross Barkley and Ollie Watkins have helped transform the team from relegation candidates in 2019/20 to one of the early pace setters at the start of this campaign.

Preece believes Villa are reaping the rewards of recruiting smartly during the transfer window and he credits manager Dean Smith for bringing those players to the club.

"It's all down to Dean Smith and the players he's brought in, it bodes well for an exciting season for Villa, it really does," he reflected.

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Ross Barkley
Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley scored on his debut after joining the Villans on a season-long loan from Chelsea earlier this month.

"Ross Barkley adds that 'X Factor', he was a bit of a statement signing. If you'd have asked me a couple of years ago if Villa could have pulled off a signing like that, you'd have said no.

"Attracting players of that calibre to Villa Park again is true business. The addition, as well, of Ollie Watkins - I know a lot of people raised their eyebrows at that price tag - but he's got five goals in six games.

"He has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and looks worth every bit the £28M they spent, so that was a long-term investment. I'm sure [Virgil] Van Dijk would tell you that as well.

"Even Matty Cash, the right-back, has surprised a few as Villa have already got two right-backs and they've brought in a bit of added quality there, he's fitted in seamlessly as well.

"All the signings make sense, Emi Martínez in goal, Tom Heaton is out injured and Dean Smith has been wanting to get an experienced no.1 and Martínez has been brilliant."

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Emi Martinez
Emi Martinez

Emi Martinez has kept two clean sheets in his first three league games as a Villa player.

Villa's recent form, including a 7-2 victory over Liverpool, has been formidable, scoring 11 goals and conceding just two, in sharp contrast to last season, in which they finished 17th.

"Flying is an understatement, winning three out of three in the league and riding as high as second," Preece continued.

"Just trouncing the champions like the way they did in front of the watching world, is incredible really.

"Those close to Villa Park weren't too surprised with the result, it was the manner of the result that has made people sit up and raised eyebrows, to think what can Villa achieve this season.

"Even the players that were there last season, Ezri Konsa has stepped up a level now, Tyrone Mings has been excellent this season.

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Jack Grealish
Jack Grealish

Captain Jack Grealish celebrates scoring during Villa's 7-2 victory over Liverpool.

"It's that core of Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Konsa, Martínez, it bodes well. I can't shout enough about that."

Leicester defeated Villa 4-0 in the final match before the Premier League came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, but plenty of new faces have arrived in the Villa's ranks since then, giving Smith's outfit an extra edge.

Preece expects Leicester to come up against a completely different side this time around, in terms of the mentality and quality within the group.

"Going back to Villa's last game against Leicester, a heavy defeat there, it just shows how far they've come in that short space of time," Preece said.

"It was that bad back then. They walked off the pitch, it was hammering down with rain, a 4-0 defeat, and you're thinking, 'where do Villa go from there'?

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Dean Smith
Dean Smith

Manager Dean Smith has been credited for turning Villa's fortunes around after a tough 2019/20 campaign.

"I think before lockdown they were doomed, they were gone, they were finished. People started questioning Smith's job which is incredible now when you think about it.

"It will be there as a reminder to players like Mings and Grealish who were on the field, that you can't dip down to that level again, so I think it will etched in their minds a little bit and will remind them of it.

"Leicester can rip any team apart on their day so they've got to be wary of that threat, especially what they did to Man City a few weeks ago as well, so that threat is always there.

"If you have an off day against Leicester, you'll know about it, but it's a new reintegrated Villa now and Leicester will have something to think about on Sunday, that's for sure."

All times BST.

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