Aston Villa 2019/20 Season Review: Primary Objective Achieved in Dramatic Fashion

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It was a season full of ups and downs for Aston Villa, but despite their struggles, they managed to secure their Premier League status.

The 2019/20 season taught Aston Villa and manager Dean Smith plenty of lessons that should make them better in the future. Their £140 million spend on players brought mixed success, but they collectively united to ensure Villa remained a Premier League club, the primary objective for Dean Smith and his team. The owners were rewarded for their loyalty to boyhood fan Smith, who could easily have been dismissed when times were tough.

The Villains also reached Wembley after an excellent run in the Carabao Cup. Their terrific run saw them knock out Liverpool, as well Midland rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City.

Aston Villa 2019/20 Season Review

Big Summer Spending

Villa’s return to the top-flight brought plenty of anticipation and excitement. The billionaire owners opened the checkbook and splashed the cash, breaking their transfer record twice.

Brazilian striker Wesley was the first record signing. However, he endured a mixed start to life in English football, notching five Premier League goals before his season was cut short following a serious injury against Burnley.

Tyrone Mings then arrived and is the current record transfer. His outstanding performances in the Championship meant Villa had to bring in him from Bournemouth. Mings, like many of Villa’s recruits, had a mixed campaign, but he is vital to the side when fully fit and on form. His form during Project Restart was sensational and something for him to build on.

The spending was certainly a necessity following the conclusion of the previous season. After their play-off success, Smith had just eleven senior players in his squad. Player recruitment had to be right, and some of their signings have proved they are Premier League quality – others have flattered to deceive.

Key Games in the Season

Aston Villa 2-0 Everton – Villa desperately needed a win following defeats in their opening two league games. They battled hard against an Everton side who had started the season well and were rewarded for their efforts. Wesley scored his first Premier League goal with an excellent finish into the far corner before Anwar El Ghazi sealed victory in stoppage time to ensure Villa’s first win of the season. The win also sent Villa Park into raptures, ensuring a memorable night for all Aston Villa fans.

Norwich City 1-5 Aston Villa – After an indifferent run of form and results, they then kicked off October in style with a brilliant win at Carrow Road. This game gave signs that Villa’s new look side was beginning to click. Wesley notched a brace of goals with his hold up play causing Norwich several issues. Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane and Douglas Luiz sealed a stylish win for Villa. That performance at Carrow Road was exactly how Dean Smith envisages his side playing each week.

Burnley 1-2 Aston Villa – This was a crucial win at Turf Moor, and a perfect way to start 2020. However, it came at a severe price. First half goals from Wesley and Jack Grealish sealed victory for Villa, but they lost key players to season-ending injuries. Wesley, who was arguably enjoying his best game in a Villa shirt, suffered a knee injury that halted his season following a challenge from Ben Mee.

One season-ending injury was bad enough, but two is just unlucky. Number one and former Burnley keeper Tom Heaton saw his season end after jumping to catch the ball. Villa’s struggles for stability in goal were clear to see for the remainder of the campaign.

Aston Villa 2-1 Watford – A priceless win that turned out to be in the relegation battle. Villa came from behind in a game they had to win. Douglas Luiz and the heel of Tyrone Mings secured a big win – A win which saw them climb out of the bottom three. A big psychological boost beating fellow strugglers Watford

Aston Villa 2-0 Crystal Palace – Following a ten-match winless run, Villa had to beat Palace to keep their survival hopes alive. Heading into this game, Villa were seven points adrift of safety with four games remaining. A brace from Trezeguet sealed a priceless win and a survival charge nobody expected. This game started a four-match unbeaten run which would see Villa stay in the Premier League.

Jack Grealish Was the Star Man for Aston Villa

The Villa captain had the whole club on his shoulders throughout the season. He was outstanding in his first full season in the Premier League, scoring eight goals and assisting six.

Grealish was the thorn in many sides, but he is the darling of Aston Villa. Villa’s captain worked tirelessly offensively and defensively in a team which lacked quality at times. His displays endeared him further to the fans and caused the opposition problems.

Only Kevin De Bruyne created more chances than Grealish, while Villa’s number 10 was the most fouled player, creating a new record set for fouls on a player since records began.

It was typical that Villa’s talisman would score the goal at West Ham to keep Villa in the league. Dean Smith will be desperate to keep him next season. But take nothing away, Grealish was outstanding for Villa and certainly was their player of the season.

Other Key Performers

Another man who impressed was Brazilian midfielder, Douglas Luiz. His arrival from Manchester City brought plenty of excitement – and he didn’t disappoint.

He certainly started with a bang after a thunderbolt against Bournemouth on his debut. As the season progressed, the Brazilian began to settle and impressed with a string of excellent performances. He was arguably Villa’s best player when the season resumed following the lockdown. Luiz has grown into an established Premier League midfielder who looks at home in English football.

Tom Heaton was also a key performer for Villa, despite missing the second half of the season. He was outstanding, making save after save to help his side pick up points. They struggled to find a consistent replacement following his injury, with Pepe Reina and Orjan Nyland showing frailties. Those frailties highlighted how crucial Heaton is to the Villa team. He will raring to go for the new season with his recovery going well.

Lessons Learnt By Dean Smith, But He Deserves Credit

When Dean Smith guided Villa to promotion from the Championship, the work instantly began on building a team to beat the drop. While the spending was big, Smith believed in every player who arrived during the season. His loyalty was rewarded especially during project restart.

The Villa boss will have learned some tough lessons this season. Throwing away leads and knowing when to stop will have given him nightmares; only West Ham threw more leads away. His future at times looked uncertain, but his dedication and the owner’s loyalty were rewarded.

Smith worked tirelessly during lockdown. One on one sessions with his players and his coaching team proving a stroke of genius. The lockdown also gave him time to sort out Villa’s defensive issues and get to know his players.

Villa were much improved defensively when the season restarted. Those improved defensive displays were the platform to Villa’s survival, and allowed them to finish the league season four games unbeaten, enough to secure safety. In that run, they conceded just two goals – both fortunate to end up in the net.

Villa’s manager deserves huge credit for his achievements in difficult circumstances. Nobody knows more about the Coronavirus damage than Smith. He lost his father during lockdown and still had Villa’s season on his shoulders. The former Brentford manager deserves all the praise in the world for his tireless work and passion for the club he adores.

An Overall Successful Season for Aston Villa

While many will argue Villa should have done better due to the money spent, they were a newly-promoted team. Survival had to be the main objective and their survival bid was successful.

They battled right to the end and deservedly secured their Premier League status. A team full of fight and commitment got their reward. They will be excited for the new season.

Villa will want to kick on next season. Dean Smith will want to add more quality to his team this summer. It will be a case of quality over quantity for the Villains as they look to build on their four-match unbeaten run, and work is already underway with the dismissal of sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch. His replacement, Johan Lange, has arrived ready to work with Dean Smith.

The 2019/20 season was a rollercoaster ride for Aston Villa, but overall it was a successful season. Survival was secured in typical fashion. Despite this being a successful season, both Smith and his players will have learned some tough lessons along the way that can only make them better. This should put Aston Villa in good steed for the new season.

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