Aston Villa deserve plenty of credit for their brave decision this summer. Dean Smith’s side have started with four wins from four.
It’s certainly easy to praise a side who has started the season with four wins from four. But Aston Villa deserve even more praise for how they made it happen over the summer.
This was a team who struggled to keep a clean sheet last season. They kept just seven in their 38 games -two fewer than relegated Watford – and split that over three goalkeepers.
Their 67 goals against was the second-worst record in the Premier League, with only bottom-placed Norwich City conceding more.
And yet, Villa appear to have fixed that problem in a very brave manner.
How do you fix a defence with transfers? You spend big on new signings, of course. You try to find fixes and players who can keep things solid.
Villa, however, have improved by signing a right-back from the Championship and Arsenal’s backup goalkeeper. Now, they spent a significant sum on each but they were far from the star signings.
That’s a huge risk. On the face of it, there’s a good chance that neither player is up to scratch and you’re left with exactly what you had last season. And a right-back as the only outfield defensive signing? It’s not the usual way to go. A defensive midfielder must have tempted Villa, as would a new centre-half – just in case.
But Villa instead spent on a new striker, a new winger and brought in Ross Barkley as an attacking midfielder. They decided to attack teams with more firepower and improve that way.
And it’s worked so far. In fact, it’s worked perfectly as they’ve won every game and picked up impressive results. ‘Impressive’ might be an understatement, in fact. They thrashed the champions and beat Leicester City away from home with a clean-sheet.
It’s all remarkable, in truth. Villa deserve all the credit in the world for this approach and long may it continue.