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The lesser mentioned stars behind Aston Villa’s incredible season so far

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Aston Villa have had a remarkable start to the Premier League in the opening half of 2023/24. Their 39-point haul in the opening 19 fixtures has made them potential title contenders and has put them in a strong position to secure UEFA Champions League football for next season.

Unai Emery’s team has laid down many major statements in their campaign. They claimed all three points against both Manchester City and Arsenal at home, and have ultimately proven that they have the quality to go toe-to-toe with the strongest teams in the league.

Villa’s most significant stars of 2023/24 so far

Numerous players have received significant praise for their roles in Villa’s run of impressive form up to the turn of the new year. The likes of Ollie Watkins, John McGinn and Douglas Luiz have received a majority of the praise from supporters.

Watkins managed nine goals and six assists in the opening 19 league fixtures as he has undoubtedly been the star man. His regular goalscoring ability has been the leading factor in the team’s top-four charge.

Many of the reputable bookies in the United Kingdom offer Villa as favourites to secure UCL qualification this season. For example, SpreadEx offers the Villans at 5/6 to maintain their top four status come the end of matchday 38.

Emery’s team fought themselves into an unbelievable position at the halfway point of the season. While their trio of prolific forwards and two box-to-box engines played a major part, others perhaps deserve to have their praises sung louder for their efforts this season.

Leon Bailey

When it comes to notable Villa attackers, Watkins is often mentioned first, although he is supported by a number of top performers in the frontline.

Leon Bailey’s contributions to the team this season have certainly gone under the radar. The Jamaican international recorded five goals and five assists in his opening 17 league appearances of the campaign.

Across those matches, he averaged a contribution every 77 minutes – which is a genuine elite level of contribution in the Premier League.

Bailey is in the strongest form of his career, he has arguably been one of the entire league’s top performers, not just one of Emery’s star men.

Pau Torres

Pau Torres has revolutionised Villa’s defensive structure since arriving in the summer from Villarreal. He provides excellent leadership at the back, as well as excellent composure and ability on the ball.

Emery’s team have been fearless against any level of opposition when playing out from the back and that certainly would not have been possible without their stellar addition in the heart of defence.

Torres has provided the foundations for the greatest Villa defence in years, as well as being the most significant factor in their ability to build up the play from deep areas.

Some others may have had more direct contributions on the scoresheet, however, Torres is the signing that has truly enabled Villa to compete with the biggest clubs at the top of the league. The Spaniard is Villa’s Virgil van Dijk-esque complete defender at the back.

Villa’s long-term servants and consistent trio Watkins, McGinn and Luiz may often be seen as the faces of Emery’s team. However, their position near the top was only made possible with strong efforts from the overall team.

There have been excellent individual performers in defence and attack besides those three. Bailey and Torres are the pick of the bunch that have helped power the team’s surprise charge to the peaks of the Premier League top four.

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