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First Team

Premier League Preview: Aston Villa

Some familiar faces are set to return to West London

18 June 2021

Dean Smith, Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa will all welcome their old side to Villa Park this season. Following a year of uncertainty, the Villans are flying high after a spectacular 20-21 season.

2020/21 REPORT

League Position: 11th

Top League Goalscorer: Ollie Watkins (14)

Stadium: Villa Park, Trinity Rd, Birmingham, B6 6HE

Capacity: 42,785

Winning 16 and losing 15 of their games last term, it was fair that Villa managed a mid-table finish. They got off to a flying start, winning their opening four games, including a 7-2 victory over Liverpool. New signing Ollie Watkins netted a hat-trick that day, his first three goals in the top-flight.

Their form never seemed to dip, as both winning and losing streaks went no higher than two games for the rest of the league season. They didn't have a better record at home or away, winning nine at Villa Park and seven on the road. Their defeats record was almost identical. In fact, after a win against Newcastle United in January, they didn't get any higher than eighth or any lower than 11th in the table for the rest of the campaign.

Villa's run in both domestic cups ended early, especially in the FA Cup, where they lost 4-1 to Liverpool in the Third Round. After beating Burton Albion and Bristol City, they lost to Stoke City in the Fourth Round of the Carabao Cup in October.

They are represented at Euro 2020 by four players; Tyrone Mings, Jack Grealish (England), John McGinn (Scotland) and Lovre Kalinic (Croatia).

THE MANAGER

Dean Smith played as a defender in his professional days, making over 560 appearances in the EFL. He started out at Walsall before moving to Hereford United. Three years later, he was on the books at Leyton Orient in East London. In six years, he played 309 times for The O's before a move to Sheffield Wednesday. A short stay at Port Vale then saw him hang up his boots and turn to coaching.

Aston Villa Manager.jpg

He returned to Orient, working as Assistant Manager until 2009. He was then appointed as Head of Youth at Walsall, taking the Manager's role two years later. In 2015, he joined Brentford, staying at Griffin Park for three years before a move to boyhood club Aston Villa materialised in October 2018.

He took Villa from 14th to promotion via the Play-Offs in his first season. Surviving his first campaign in the top-flight, they also reached the 2020 Carabao Cup Final, losing 2-1 to Manchester City. Last term, Dean was named Premier League Manager of the Month for December as he crossed over a century of games in charge at Villa Park.

LAST MEETING

We last faced Villa on 13 February 2019 in the Sky Bet Championship, Neal Maupay scoring the only goal at Griffin Park in a 1-0 Bees win. It was Dean Smith's first meeting with his old side since taking over in the West Midlands. The French striker got on the end of a Said Benrahma assist to curl the ball beyond goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic.

Brentford: Bentley; Konsa, Jeanvier, Barbet; Canos (Field 83), Mokotjo, Sawyers, Odubajo; Watkins, Maupay, Benrahma (Ogbene 90+5)

Villa: Kalinic; Hutton, Elphick, Mings, Hause; El Ghazi (Green 59), Hourihane (Kodjia 84), Whelan, McGinn, Adomah (El Mohamady 59); Abraham


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