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The points target Aston Villa need to aim for by next international break – Ashley Preece


Upon looking at Aston Villa’s opening batch of Premier League fixtures, you’d say there were two winnable games, a possible draw and a defeat.

In fact, the so-called easier fixtures Villa were handed during the opening four-game cluster ended in defeats to Bournemouth (1-2) and Crystal Palace (1-0), which were sandwiched in between an impressive 2-0 victory over big-spending Everton at Villa Park.

The daunting opening-day match with Champions League finalists Tottenham proved difficult despite such a daring start after John McGinn’s deft finish before Harry Kane burst into life late on.

It hasn’t been an ideal start to life in the big league for Dean Smith – far from it – with the head coach having been dealt some unfortunate cards in terms of refereeing decisions such as a possible penalty on McGinn being turned down at Spurs with the score still at 1-0; Philip Billing’s red card which wasn’t given against Bournemouth and Kevin Friend’s farcical decision to chalk off Henri Lansbury’s legitimate late equaliser, the latter the worst of the lot.

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Referee Kevin Friend

Newly-promoted Villa find themselves in 18th after just four games and go into the next batch of Premier League fixtures looking to leap up the league.

“I’ve enjoyed it but I’ve been disappointed with our points return,” reflected Smith. “Some of our performances can be better. As a group we’re evolving, getting better and I think our performances will improve and, by doing that, our points tally will start adding up as well.”

The all-round Everton display and result, meanwhile, will provide optimism going into Monday night’s clash with West Ham as well as for the foreseeable future given the cauldron-like atmosphere that’s been generated inside Villa Park of late. Villa also whacked six past Crewe Alexandra with their second string prior to the international break, albeit against League Two opposition.

 

On the horizon, though, the next round of Premier League fixtures have some winnable games in the mix ahead of another international break in mid-October. Nothing is a guarantee for any team in the Premier League, that’s a given, but the upcoming run is certainly appealing on paper.

Villa have another five games between now and October 11 when England face off against Czech Republic; four in the Premier League and a Carabao Cup second round tie away at Brighton in between. It’ll mean Villa will have played eight times in the league by the time the next mini break comes around and, with tough match-ups against the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United coming up after that, we assess just how many points Smith’s Villa can expect, starting with West Ham on Monday…

West Ham (H): Monday, September 16 – 3 points

Monday night under the lights at Villa Park gives Aston Villa the ideal chance to right a wrong after the controversial defeat against Crystal Palace in their previous Premier League outing. Another home win here would all but wipe away the memories of that Saturday afternoon at Selhurst Park but, in another London side in West Ham, the test will be much, much tougher.

Manuel Pellegrini‘s side were thumped 5-0 at home on the opening day by champions Manchester City before a lacklustre draw away at Brighton a week later. The Hammers, though, thanks to midfield magician Manual Lanzini and £36million record-signing Sebastien Haller have picked up in recent weeks with back-to-back victories over Watford and Norwich City.

BirminghamLive’s dedicated Aston Villa reporter Ashley Preece wants to hear from you, the fans.

Have you got a Villa-related story to tell? Do you want to get something off your chest about a recent performance? Or have you got any brilliant match day videos or photographs you’d like to share? Well, you’re in the right place.

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Our man said: “I want to get amongst the fan base who pay their hard-earned cash to follow the boys in claret and blue, giving supporters a voice about all things AVFC, whether it’s a talking point from a game or an incident or issue not being dealt with, drop me a line and get in touch. As always, up the Villa!”

You can get in touch with Ashley via the following channels:

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Twitter: PreeceObserver

Facebook: PreeceBirminghamLive / astonvillanews

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Email: ashley.preece@reachplc.com

WhatsApp: 07557205119

 

But I’ll harp back to that Friday night against Everton, a side which well and truly wilted under the pressure and atmosphere inside a bouncing Villa Park. Villa were, in the end, good for their win and, against the Hammers, I think Smith will fire up his troops in similar style and will get his players to get all four corners of Villa Park of its seat. The Palace game will be motivation in itself and I can see luck evening itself out and hand Villa back-to-back home victories against a very dangerous side it has to be said.

Arsenal (A): Sunday, September 22 – 0 points

Speaking of a dangerous side, there’s not too many who boast a more potent attacking threat than Unai Emery‘s Gunners. The forward trio of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Pepe will make any defender’s knees shudder.

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Arsenal face a tricky Europa League fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt three days before the Villa fixture but, like Spurs on the opening day, pressure could tell – especially late on as Smith’s side will no doubt face an onslaught. It’ll be a tough one at the Emirates against a side who have improved significantly this season. There will be no qualms with a loss as long as Villa make a good account of themselves and learn from their Spurs showing on the opening day.

Burnley (H): Saturday, September 28 – 3 points

Villa will be back in B6 when Burnley come to Birmingham and will look for yet another victory. Smith’s side would have played Brighton away in the Carabao Cup on the Wednesday before this one and, for the trip on the south coast, will use players who haven’t been getting minutes in a bid to keep the first XI fresh for the Clarets clash.

Sean Dyche’s men are a hard bunch with the likes of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee at the back while, up front, the striker duo of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes have struck up an admirable partnership. But I think Villa’s midfield of Jack Grealish and John McGinn could dominate this one and I see Villa’s sterling home form continuing.

Norwich City (A): Saturday, October 5 – 1 point

It’s always a rampant atmosphere at Carrow Road and the first Saturday in October won’t be any different. Visiting the Canaries has been tricky for Villa in recent seasons which is evident in their last four visits: played four, lost four.

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Norwich City’s Nordic striker Teemu Pukki is in the form of his life at the moment and, at the time of writing, has a staggering five goals in his first four Premier League games. The live wire will need to kept at bay by the likes of Tyrone Mings and Bjorn Engels. But given how this part of East Anglia has been a bit of a bogey bit of the country to visit, a point on the road would be a decent result – albeit against a fellow newly-promoted side who have a similar attacking ethos.

Total – 7 points

The mid-September to mid-October fixture list looks kind on the eye for Aston Villa as they attempt to climb up the table and steer away from the drop-zone ahead of games against the likes of Man City and Liverpool.

Here, home form will once again be key and games against West Ham and Burnley could be fruitful if Villa can emulate previous Villa Park showings against Bournemouth (without the mistakes) and Everton.

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Smith, who targets three points in every fixture he enters, would no doubt take a point against West Ham on Monday night and will look to beat Norwich on the counter-attack given their all-out kamikaze style of play.

In conclusion, this is just a summary at what Villa should look at getting and, in doing so, can take their Premier League points tally to double figures from eight games played should all the above come true. Points make prizes is the famous old saying and, in truth, that’s what it’s all about.





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