After narrowly avoiding relegation in the club’s first season back in the Premier League, Aston Villa made great strides in their 2020/21 campaign. Handily sitting 11th by the 38th game, ten points back from Europe but ten points clear of 12th, Dean Smith’s squad may have even finished higher if not for Jack Grealish’s 12-game absence.
Now, there’s a new season on the horizon, with the Villa Park faithful craving further improvements to perhaps even break into the hailed top half of the table. To achieve this, however, the Claret and Blue will need to get off on the right foot, which just so happens to be the club’s specialty in the Premier League.
On Saturday 14th August, not only do Villa have the chance to commence the season with three points, but they can also further cement a record that ranks among the league’s most prestigious clubs.
Going toe-to-toe with the ‘Big Six’ on day one
In Aston Villa’s last five starts to a Premier League campaign, which spans back to the 2013/14 season due to relegation, the Lions have won four games and only lost once, claiming 12 points over that span. The only loss on this record comes by way of a 3-1 opening match defeat to Tottenham Hotspur away in 2019.
Over the spring, a big deal was made about the pomposity of the so-called ‘Big Six’ clubs when they were thwarted trying to craft a new euro league to be called the European Super League. While they quickly backed out of their American bank-backed plans, a ‘them and us’ stance has only increased since.
Looking at opening day results over the last five attempts, it turns out that Aston Villa ranks among the fabled ‘Big Six.’ Sitting atop the lot are Manchester City with five wins from five, and Liverpool just behind with 13 points. Tying with Villa, however, are Manchester United, who lost their opening game of last season 3-1 to Crystal Palace.
Sitting below Villa and United for these last five opening matches is Tottenham, who may have bested Villa in 2019, but lost to Everton last season and drew against the Toffees in 2016. Tied on three wins and two losses are the other two London clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea, landing them with nine points from a possible 15.
Can Villa extend their record against Watford?
It’s clear that Villa has a long tendency to get off on the right foot, beating Sheffield United, Bournemouth, Stoke City, and Arsenal to kick-start their campaigns. Now, according to Marathonbet UK, the Claret and Blue are set to do it again, but at 123/100 to beat Watford, the victory isn’t seen as a given.
This shouldn’t trouble Villa because, as shown above, three of their five opening day games have yielded victories against teams that wouldn’t traditionally challenge for a place in Europe. The odds are also likely pulled out a bit due to it being at Vicarage Road, and yet, only one of Villa’s last five Premier League openers was played at Villa Park.
While Watford are tipped among the favourites to go down, and will almost certainly burn through multiple managers as they attempt to stop the drop, they have a decent recent record against Villa. Both matches in the 2015/16 season saw Watford triumph 3-2, and they landed a mighty 3-0 blow at home in December 2019. The record shows, however, that Villa had the last laugh, avoiding relegation with the help of a 2-1 win in the home leg of January 2020.
These bits of history have a way of coming back to bite teams, but looking at the two on paper – especially when you include the superb signing of Emiliano Buendía – Villa have what it takes to add another opening day win to their record.