Out of the mess of this current pandemic, some clubs and players are taking full advantage of others not playing to full strength. After last season’s struggles it’s refreshing to see Aston Villa sitting just one point off the top of the early season table with a game in hand.
A superb 1-0 win over Leicester City gave manager Dean Smith a fourth win in four games and the only side still with a 100% record courtesy of Ross Barkley’s injury time winner.
Last season was no doubt a struggle for Smith and his team, rumours he was close to the sack as results were ok but not improving their league position, a win on the final day of last season was enough to keep the Villans in the Premier League for a second consecutive season.
Most promoted sides do well in the first season and then suffer from second season syndrome, known as the time team’s tend to get found out and struggle to replicate the first season, Villa seem to be doing it back to front.
Once again Jack Grealish has been in fine form as Villa’s talisman, but this season he’s been joined in midfield by Barkley who has already started to make a difference since arriving on loan from Chelsea. Barkley has not only put in match winning performances, he’s also finding the net with goals in both his games so far but it’s not just the midfielder who has stood out so far.
Ollie Watkins looks a real bargain at £28 million, five goals in seven games is a fantastic return already and despite a good season for Brentford in the Championship there is still the element of the unknown and defences so far including the champions Liverpool seem unable to cope with his pace and finishing.
Grealish as well has chipped in with four goals from the five games he has played so far, he will relish having that complete goal-scoring burden lifted from his shoulders that he carried throughout last season and that should make Villa prosper knowing there are goals coming from different places across the park.
Whilst they are scoring goals for fun at one end, a miserly defence is not allowing sides back into the game. Just two goals conceded, both coming in the 7-2 defeat of Liverpool means three clean sheets so far for keeper Emiliano Martinez who joined from Arsenal in the summer.
Two home games for Villa could see them clear at the top of the table when November begins, such is their confidence at the moment, however the lack of fans and atmosphere inside stadiums is still I think helping to produce some results that we wouldn’t normally expect to see, no passionate home support to either spur their side on nor get behind them if things aren’t going well on the pitch.
Whether Villa can keep this form going will rest a lot on keeping those three key players fit and producing the goods on the pitch, there is an opportunity this season to take advantage of other club’s European ambitions as Leicester did for the most part last season, still a long way to go though.
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37