Summer Ins and Outs:
IN: Aleksandar Tonev (£2.5m, Lech Poznan), Jores Okore (£4m, Nordsjaelland), Leandro Bacuna (undisclosed, FC Groningen), Nicklas Helenius (undisclosed, Aalborg), Antonio Luna (undisclosed, Sevilla), Jed Steer (tribunal, Norwich).
OUT: Calum Barrett, Josh Barton, Daniel Devine, Jean Makoun, Andy Marshall (all released), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, free), Courtney Cameron (free, Torquay), Richard Dunne (free, QPR).
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What to expect from 2013/14:
I expect Aston Villa to improve from last year’s finish. They barely avoided relegation last year, finishing in 15th place. The good news is that the emergence of Christian Benteke and that they succeeded in keeping the striker at Villa Park. They also added Nicklas Helenius and Aleksander Tonev, who should support Benteke well and create even more chances for him. The emergence of Andreas Weimann has also been a huge positive and he’s played well in support of Benteke.
The defense is also looking better. Antonio Luna from Sevilla should provide help at right back and Jores Okore from Nordsjaelland should be a starter in the near future at center back. Okore is a young but experienced defender who can provide immediate help to an improving defense.
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Players to watch:
The obvious number one player here is Christian Benteke. Benteke should be a goal scoring beast and I would expect him to do better than last year. He is surprisingly cheap on Yahoo! Fantasy Premier League, so I would advise anyone to own him, especially in week one when Villa play two games.
Also to watch:
Aleksander Tonev – I’m personally skeptical of Tonev’s ability. I haven’t seen enough to believe he can be a quality Premier League player, but many people disagree so it would be interesting to see if Tonev can provide the attacking creativity Villa need. He is cheap in fantasy, so could be a good addition to your bench while you assess his skills.
Jores Okore – Okoro comes at a little over 7 million pounds in fantasy and should be a starting defender in an improved back line. Could be useful in your lineup if he can score a few goals and Villa can keep more clean sheets than last year.
Aston Villa have bought enough players to stay in the Premier League and improve from last year. I don’t see them improving too much, but they shouldn’t have a relegation scare like last year. My prediction: 11th place.