I think the difference between the Aston Villa of last season and this year is very simple.
Last season they failed to keep a single clean sheet away from home, and just survived relegation taking 10 points from their final four games to drag themselves out of the relegation zone. This season they have won five of their opening seven games including a 7-2 win over Liverpool.
Villa just learned a lot from the way they played last year and I know a lot of teams were also new to the way they played.
I just remember seeing a team that was sitting very deep after they lost a few games in the beginning of last season. They started with the intention of being more attacking and open but when they saw that would not help them win the games they needed, they changed. They started to sit so deep that they became a team that was hard to beat. Their key player Jack Grealish was also sitting too deep when they defended and I never felt he couldn’t fully express himself and be more attacking minded.
When I looked at the way he made that run for the last goal against Arsenal at the weekend you could see a player with power and speed that had enough energy to provide the perfect assist for Ollie Watkins to finish. He and his team have a better understanding of how to maximise his potential and we all look forward to seeing how they can keep pushing his magic.
Arsenal beat Man United and everyone thought this was going to be an easy one for them, especially when they started the game with the same 11. But after a hard season that saw Villa just manage to stay safe and remain in the league, things changed. And here we saw Villa take the lead in the game after 25 minutes thanks to an own goal by Saka. At the time Arsenal may have thought it was a game they could get back into with a few changes but it was Villa that kept their head and ran away with the win at the Emirates. It will give the team the confidence that will be needed.
When a manager is active with his team in the Premier League and even when he sees them playing well and winning games, you can’t afford to take it easy on them. If you drop the pace you will be punished and it can be hard to get the momentum back. #mmlove