Pundit and former Aston Villa striker Darren Bent sees no reason why his old club shouldn’t be pushing for a top six finish this season.
The Lions swept aside Newcastle United on Saturday night to get back to winning ways and secure their first victory of 2021 – they’re now eighth on 29 points, with two games in hand on West Ham who are three points and one spot above them.
With Chelsea and Arsenal struggling this term, and the likes of Southampton and Leicester laying down stern challenges to prise open the so-called ‘big six’s’ grasp on the top six places, Bent thinks Villa can be in the mix.
“Top six – I don’t think that’s out of the question at all,” Bent told Sky Sports. “We’ve seen this season that they’ve mixed it with the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, I think tonight they had more gears to go through as well.
“The recruitment they’ve done and the players they’ve brought in…Ollie Watkins as centre forward, Ross Barkley, Traore, Grealish – top six, for me, would be something they’re more than capable of this season and I think that’s where they should be aiming.”
Fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp said the same, and he put that down largely to the vast improvement in the Villa defence.
They’ve conceded just 18 goals this term, have a settled back four with an assured presence in goal and, in Redknapp’s opinion, are as good a team that Villa have had in years.
“I agree,” Redknapp added. “Defensively they look a lot better this year. Mings and Konsa have developed a really good partnership and I’ve seen a massive improvement in Matt Targett defensively – going forward he’s always had a lovely left foot.
“Matt Cash looks a good signing, so they look really strong. The goalkeeper as well, he deserves credit because he’s just shored the whole place up.
“I agree with Darren, they’re a really good side. They’re a side I enjoy watching. When a team is playing this well you almost feel sorry for the fans that they can’t be inside watching them.
“It’s the best Villa team I’ve seen for an awful long time.”