Since Randy Lerner appointed Martin O’Neill as Aston Villa manager, the club’s fortunes seem to have changed. No, Villa haven’t realistically competed for any silverware yet, but there are certainly promising signs at the club. Villa have recently appeared to be a club who are a solid top 6 team, with some promising talent on their books. However, after beating Chelsea at Villa Park wearing the Aston Villa home shirt, are Aston Villa possible contenders for a Champions League spot?
I would consider Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United to be the teams that will make up the top 3, but there are definitely a few teams who are contenders for that 4th spot. At the start of the season, Liverpool would have been most people’s favourites to make the Champions League once again, but with a dreadful start to the season and still no sign of that changing soon at Anfield, they might struggle to make it. Manchester City would probably be regarded as the next favourites for 4th spot, but while they started the season extremely well, they have drawn 5 games in a row now and are not quite looking so strong. Tottenham, currently sitting in 4th spot, have finally started a season well and look consistent this season under Harry Redknapp and have probably been the surprise package of the season so far. So, let’s have a further look at the chances of those in an Aston Villa football shirt.
Villa are in 5th position at the moment and have certainly had a couple of fantastic results so far. Defeating Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield is something very few teams have been able to do and winning 2-1 at home against Chelsea shows that they have been able to compete with the big sides. A 1-1 draw with Manchester City and hammering Bolton 5-1 last week have added to this impressive start to the season. Aston Villa have also strengthened their squad by signing Richard Dunne, Fabian Delph, Stephen Warnock and Stewart Downing, who has still to play his first game for the club after getting injured at Middlesbrough. Added to that, you have one of the best keepers in the league, Brad Friedel and fantastic attacking players, such as John Carew, Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor, showing that Villa certainly do have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season. One thing that will be in the back of their minds is what happened last season when they looked certainties to make the competition last season, but then completely fell away from March onwards, practically giving Arsenal 4th spot. Martin O’Neill will be hoping his side is mentally stronger this time around.
Written by Stephen Whiteford, a sports writer who blogs about football kits.