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Aston Villa Roundtable: Reflecting on a promising season for a club on the rise!

As the curtains close on another campaign, Sebastian Bacon spent his time talking to some of Aston Villa’s most influential content creators from around the globe to reflect on the last ten months of Premier League action.

Aston Villa v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

In order to provide the best review of the season possible, I believe the only way to gain the most in-depth insight to the club would be to reach far and wide and call upon some of my good friends and fellow media contributors; piecing all their answers together to supply one extensive season recap. Lets see what the panelists have to say!

Surprise standout player of the season?

Dan Bardell (The Villa View and The Athletic presenter): Matt Targett

“I think he is the only one that any Villa fan can choose because he has just been the most consistent player; I do not think he has had a bad game all season. In the first game he gave away a bit of a clumsy penalty and obviously Martinez saved it, but from then on, I do not really remember him making any mistakes and he has been solid at the back, while remaining great going forward; even without Grealish there.

“I just think last season I was a little bit worried about him defensively; I thought he was a little bit weak and was worried about him when he would go off early in games, sometimes with injury, but he has played pretty much every game this season. He has played nearly every minute (Actually having missed about fifteen) and has become a really key player and is unlucky to not be in the England squad this summer. Chilwell and Shaw have both had really good seasons as well, but I think he is probably next in line, whereas last season, he probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near the England squad, let’s be honest.

“I worried about him defensively as I say and now, he loves defending. You can see he has done some work with Oli Stevenson, the fitness coach, and he just looks built. He loves defending, he is great at going forward, and he has had an unbelievable season. I think he has easily been Villa’s most improved player!”

Aston Villa v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Matt Targett was in fact the standout answer amongst the panel, claiming a comprehensive five out of the six votes. The only diversion from the left-back was...

Cole Pettem (Editor of 7500 To Holte and Producer/Host of The Holtecast): Anwar El Ghazi

“Many people may go with Ollie Watkins, Emi Martinez, or Matty Cash as the 20/21 season was their debut season with Aston Villa, but a fair amount of praise has to go to Anwar El Ghazi. The Dutch winger has gone from a player that many Villa fans wrote off halfway through the 19/20 season; however, he has quite literally doubled his goal tally from last season to this season from five goals to 10 goals in all competitions.

“For the relatively low fee that the football paid for him ahead of the 19/20 season, the football club have more than got their value out of a man who will be looking to improve those numbers next season.”

Aston Villa v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

What one player can find another gear next season?

My next inclusive question asked the panel what one player they believe can find another gear next season to which I received a vast range of answers, with only two pundits agreeing on the same player, Douglas Luiz.

Justin Hawthorne (UTV Podcast): Douglas Luiz

“We saw glimpses after project restart of just how good he can be, but he’s found it tough to do it consistently this season. I think with a good pre-season and some new additions to the squad, he can find the top level again.”

Dan Morgan (Writer and podcast producer/host - Heart Of The Holte): Douglas Luiz

“At the start of the season Douglas’ trajectory was trending towards him genuinely establishing himself as one of the best ‘six’s’ in the Premier League. Next season is a big one for Douglas, with another season under his belt, I can say with no doubt that Douglas will kick on next season.”

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Mark Jirobe (Senior Contributor - Under A Gaslit Lamp): Marvelous Nakamba

“I feel like there will come a time when Nakamba will be called upon a lot more often than he has been previously. Even if Douglas Luiz stays at Villa, we have seen this season that Nakamba has the ability to read the game very well.”

Omar Iqbal (The Villa Talks Podcast Host): Matty Cash

“He has all the attributes to become a top fullback. You can see the talent and I think with our coaching team, he will step up a gear or two and become a real outlet for us on the right. His delivery is exceptional, and we rarely use it.”

Dan Bardell: Ezri Konsa

“Konsa because I think the improvement from this season to last is massive. I think center-backs obviously get better as they get more experienced and get older, so I think he has had one average season where he would have found it difficult (The season we nearly went down) and when it comes to this season, he has been excellent.

“He has got that great partnership with Mings, but I think Konsa has further to go and he has all the attributes you need to be a top center half and I think he will continue to grow. His reading of the game has come on leaps and bounds in the last 12 months. I think mentally he is in a good place; physically he is in a good place. Konsa has got another gear to go and he will be the one next season that you will see even more improvement from.”

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Favorite game of the season?

Mark Jirobe: Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool

“It just has to be the 7-2 destruction of Liverpool, doesn’t it? I would say seeing the younger lions perform in the FA cup will be memorable, even in defeat. No one is going to forget that Louie Barry goal anytime soon!”

Dan Bardell: Arsenal 0-3 Aston Villa

“I don’t want to be boring and pick the Liverpool game because I think everyone your asking will choose the Liverpool game due it being 7-2. It was fantastic, it was an absolute freak result, and we’re unlikely to ever see anything like that at Villa Park ever again.

“The Arsenal game that we won away from home 0-3. I thought that was a complete away performance; I mean, Arsenal are not the greatest team in the world at the moment, but I thought we made them look really, really ordinary.”

Justin Hawthorne: Arsenal 0-3 Aston Villa

“We controlled the entire game and Watkins was razor sharp with Jack at his best.”

Omar Iqbal: Aston Villa 3-0 Crystal Palace

“The way we dominated them with 10 men showed me how good of a team we can be and how far we had come.”

Dan Morgan: Aston Villa 3-0 Crystal Palace

“Playing 45 minutes with 10 men, it was definitely a high point of mine personally; reporting on the game within the press box at Villa Park.”

Cole Pettem: Leicester City 0-1 Aston Villa

“My favorite game this season was the 1-0 win over Leicester back in October. That late winner just showed how good Villa can be on both sides of the ball when it mattered most; hopefully, we will see more of that next season!”

Leicester City v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Moment to forget this season?

Over the course of a thirty-eight game season, positives are usually closely followed by some harsh negative results in which made me wonder what the moment to forget was for this season.

Mark Jirobe: Burnley 3-2 Aston Villa

“Villa possessed the ball very well through the contest, had better xG stats, and only to give up two goals very quickly close to the second half.”

Dan Morgan: Burnley 3-2 Aston Villa

“Despite dominating for early portions of the game, Villa lost their grip of the game and slipped into a bad habit, which unfortunately was prominent throughout the back end of this season. This proves to be a turning point in Villa’s season.”

Cole Pettem: West Ham United 2-1 Aston Villa

“Conceding two goals that were relatively avoidable, Watkins missing a penalty he should have easily buried, and then for the striker’s last minute equalizer to be ruled off for offside when he has been manhandled summed up a frustrating evening.”

Omar Iqbal: Aston Villa 1-3 West Ham United

“We’ve been rarely thrashed this season, but I think we were completely outclassed against West Ham at home. I feel we needed to make a statement that game as we were neck and neck with them, and they bossed us.”

Dan Bardell: Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United

“That is probably the most annoyed I have been after a game this season, hosting them at Villa Park because I thought we had a really good chance to beat them that day and we had a great first half, but then we were just the architects of our own downfall in the second half.

“It’s just become this big thing to me now that I think my second ever season as a season ticket holder I was nine and we beat them 3-1. It was great, but since then I am now 35 and I haven’t seen us beat Man United at Villa Park and it is just an absolutely ridiculous record and I think because of the way the game went, with another penalty, that is probably the moment to forget this season for me.

“I was just so irate after it, I probably lost my composure a little bit on The Villa View as well, which doesn’t usually happen, but I am just so desperate for us to beat them. It is not even as if I hate Man United; they are a club in which I have a lot of respect for. I am just desperate to end this massive hoodoo because it has been going on for too long.”

Justin Hawthorne: Jack Grealish’s injury

“Finding out Jack was injured and would be missing for weeks; it is always bad to lose one of your better players.”

Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Tim Keeton - Pool/Getty Images

Main aim for next season?

Before everyone became frustrated and annoyed, I decided to swiftly turn the focus of the last two questions on to next season, with the penultimate question asking what their main aim for next season consisted of.

Mark Jirobe: Continuing the club’s progress

“Continuing the positive project that has been going on at Villa since Sawiris and Edens have arrived. Aston Villa are starting to become a football club that players can’t ignore for much longer with what is in place on and off the pitch.”

Justin Hawthorne: Pushing for European spot

“I think as a club with the strides we have made and the investment that’s been talked about and the base we have built, I would be disappointed if we didn’t push for a European place next season.”

Dan Bardell: For the progression of the club to continue

“I just want the club to keep progressing and heading in the right direction. I really think we are on to something and we are definitely going the right way. I would like us to have a good cup run as well because we have not done anything since 1996, which again, I was 10 when we last won something.

“I thought that was the norm that we would win a cup every few years and it just hasn’t happened, so pushing towards the top six, going on a cup run, and maybe trying to win something; they are the important ambitions for me next season. Just improving whilst moving in the right direction whilst adding some academy players in to the team as well; I think we are in a really good place in which will only continue as we grow and get better.”

Omar Iqbal: A top eight finish

“Next season has to be top eight finish and pushing for Europe, especially if we spend the money we all expect us to spend.”

Cole Pettem: A top seven or eight finish

“A top seven or eight finish is the next step for this side when it comes to next season. Many fans will be expecting a real push for the European places, but we all know that the football club is going to need to find some true diamonds in the rough in order to push for that.”

Dan Morgan: A top 10 finish

“Realistically, Villa should be aiming for top 10 at the very least!”

Player to watch next season?

Cole Pettem: Jacob Ramsey

“The young man is going to do some great things for Villa and I think with another full season of Premier League action under his belt, he’s going to start producing in the goals and assists portions of his game.”

Dan Morgan: Jacob Ramsey

“I expect the youngster to have a larger role than he already does this season. He’s shown ability and maturity beyond his years and is definitely one for the future.”

Dan Bardell: Carney Chukwuemeka

“Well you saw him come on against Spurs the other day; he was only on for about five minutes and subsequently hitting the post. I haven’t been this excited by someone coming through the academy since Jack Grealish, and no one has really come through the academy and probably made it since Jack.

“It has been a long time coming, but I think this boy is going to be absolutely worth the wait and he has got everything you need. As a modern-day midfielder, he glides with the ball a little bit like Jack. He makes good decisions on the ball, his weight of pass, and he can carry the ball his physique is excellent.

“Dean Smith spoke the other day about having a plan for him at Aston Villa. I think he is going to be heavily involved next season. He won’t start every week, there will probably be a lot of football from the bench for him, but I think cup games and a sprinkling of Premier League minutes will be the case. I think Villa are going to have to involve him anyway as there is big interest in him; he is a real hot prospect and at 17 years of age, he has a real bright future ahead of him.”

Aston Villa v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

As for that, that rounds up a thoroughly enjoyable time spent talking to some amazing people. I would like to thank all six involved for volunteering their time to help me produce content I genuinely love making.

Hopefully, you enjoyed reading over the interesting opinions from the panelists. Please make sure to add your own opinion to the discussion by leaving a comment below and/or tweeting the team (@7500toHolte) and myself (@SebastianBacon8).

Connect With Our Panelists Via Twitter!

  • Mark Jirobe - @VillaMarkPGH
  • Justin Hawthorne - @jutin__
  • Dan Morgan - @danmorgi34
  • Dan Bardell - @danbardell
  • Omar Iqbal - @VillaPodcast
  • Cole Pettem - @TalkAstonVilla