From their opening six games, Aston Villa have the same form as they did in their relegation season – but there are spades of key differences between 2015/16 and 2019/20.
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The 2015-16 season is not a time that Aston Villa supporters look back with any kind of fondness. Villa was just flat out bad and only found a way to win three games throughout the entirety of the season. Benteke left, Ron Vlarr left, Andi Weimann left… it was a shell of a team who were staving off relegation in the previous few years. The eventual relegation in 2015-16 was astute and deserved for Villa, regardless of historical stance for the Midlands club.
Presently in 2019, Villa haven’t had the best of starts to their new-found life in the Premier League after being promoted via the Championship Playoffs. One win from the first six league games never seemed to be plausible after Villa needed to spend largely in the summer transfer window. There are already some Villa supporters who feel as if this is a replay of that ugly relegation season – but that may not be the case, at least not just yet.
At a bird’s eye view, the beginning of the relegation season of 2015-16 and the current form of the team in 2019 are shockingly similar. In both seasons, Villa only managed to win one game in the starting six. The Villa team of the relegation season gave up ten goals in the opening six fixtures. Present-day Aston Villa have shipped nine goals.
While there are similarities between the two teams and that is a cause for concern, there are some positive differences for the modern Villa team. For instance, Wesley now has two goals in six games. In the first six games for the 2015-16 Aston Villa, Rudy Gestede only managed to find the net on one occasion from a strikers position. Wesley seems to be getting just a tad better every game, but it still remains to be seen if he will grow into the forward that Villa fans hope he can be.
Also worth noting is the modern-day Villa team are placing more shots on net than the 2016-16 team did, which signifies a more ample willingness in attacking areas. So far in the 2019 season, Villa has placed 29 shots on goal. In 2015-2016, Villa only managed 17 shots on goal. From this comparison, one could draw the conclusion that the modern-day Aston Villa squad are much more forward-thinking and taking chances to shoot much more seriously. This was a major concern for the four permanent and semi-permanent appointed Aston Villa managers throughout the entirety of the 2016 campaign.
It’s almost unfair to compare the skill levels of the 2015 Aston Villa team and the 2019 Aston Villa team. In modern terms, Aston Villa’s defence is settled with Tyrone Mings and Bjorn Engels. Also, the midfield of John McGinn and Jack Grealish looks to be head and shoulders above Villa midfield tandems of 2016. In essence, there is no need to panic if you’re an Aston Villa supporter.
The perceived problem with Villa at the moment is the learning curve of the Premier League mixed with a lack of self-belief. If Aston Villa manager Dean Smith can get his players to believe in his system and his players own ability, Villa still have time to turn the season into a positive. Villa deserve to be in the Premier League, now they have to play like it.