Buckle in, because the rollercoaster’s just getting started.
Aston Villa are about to find out what it means to be a European group-stage team for only the second time ever. Even the first time around, in the 2008-09 UEFA Cup, Martin O’Neill’s iteration of Villa only played four group games.
This time, it’s six Europa Conference League group games over the next nine weeks. Throw in the League Cup third-round tie against Everton and Villa have seven games in the space of 23 days beginning with the Premier League visit of Crystal Palace to Villa Park on Saturday.
Villa will need lots of things over that timespan if they are to have a strong start to autumn: good form, good luck, good health, and some standout performances from big players.
But who exactly can be the main men over the packed next three weeks of action? We asked our staff writers for their thoughts.
Bennett Berry (@bennettberry
I’ve waffled between Boubacar Kamara (an important player in an important position that could step it up) and Pau Torres over the past couple of days and have yet to really decide. Be that as it may, I’m leaning towards Torres. With instability in the backline, not to mention the knock-on psychological impact of injuries, a seven-game run of quality play from Torres could do wonders.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Phil Vogel (@PBVogel
Agreed on Pau Torres. He has to adapt to the PL much faster than he would have wanted to or expected to, and he is key to how Unai Emery wants to play. The better he gets the more solid Villa’s defence and transition into attack will be. Clearly, Villa have struggled against two very good teams… but there are more good teams ahead and if Villa want to have a successful campaign they need to be better against the squads around them.
Aidan Mifsud (@aidanmsa
For me, the wheel stops at Ollie Watkins. Goals win matches and Villa are going to need wins against the teams “we should be beating” (Palace, Wolves), the teams we may be competing with for league position (Chelsea, Brighton), and good starts in the cups (Everton, Legia Warsaw, and Zrinjski). Moussa Diaby has had a fantastic start to his Villa career but already it looks like we may be relying on him for the spark in attack and goals. Watkins needs to be an equally strong partner in what could be quite the intimidating attacking duo. Emery would surely like this partnership to solidify over the next few weeks. The team would love to be on a high moving into the next international break, looking forward with excitement and confidence to the next block of matches. Ollie’s goals could be the difference-maker.
Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images
Tom Nightingale (@tdnightingale
Seems odd to say considering he likely won’t be available to play in the first of these games against Palace on Saturday, but Villa are really going to benefit from having Jacob Ramsey back, in my view. Diaby’s movement and explosive potential have added a serious threat to our side so far this season; Ramsey has many of those same qualities. We’re more dynamic, incisive, and threatening with JJ in the team, and having him back drifting onto the left wing, taking on defenders, and arriving late into the box to score will be a huge complement to Diaby on the right side. Ramsey’s return can’t come soon enough.
Cole Pettem (@TalkAstonVilla
Some people may disagree, but in my opinion, Douglas Luiz will prove to be the most important player for Aston Villa over the next stretch of matches. Given how Unai Emery’s ethos is to play the ball out from the back, Luiz has actively proven to become an integral part in regards to how Villa can transition from their own half and into dangerous attacking areas. Boubacar Kamara has struggled in a couple of matches so far this season, but Luiz hasn’t really faltered whatsoever and I can’t see a world where Luiz doesn’t continue to lead the charge in the middle of the football pitch. If Unai Emery’s men are to succeed, Douglas Luiz will be a major part of that.
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
By: 7500tomAidanmifBennett Berry7500 News DeskPhil VogelCole Pettem
Title: 7500 Roundtable: Who will be Villa’s most important player over the next 7 games?
Sourced From: 7500toholte.sbnation.com/2023/9/14/23871123/7500-roundtable-who-will-be-villas-most-important-player-over-the-next-7-games
Published Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2023 18:30:00 +0000