Last season

Premier League: 15<sup>th

FA Cup: Fourth Round

League Cup: Semi Finals

Top Scorer: Christian Benteke (23)

Summer work

The continued presence of Christian Benteke at Villa Park will largely be seen as Aston Villa's most celebrated feat of the summer. In signing a new contract the Belgian has shown he has bought into his manager's belief of what can be achieved at the club, something of enormous worth heading into a new season.

A fragile defence has been boosted by the arrival of 20-year-old centre half Jores Okore, who turned down the chance to join Chelsea last January. Joining him are Bulgarian winger Aleksander Tonev, former Sevilla full back Antonio Luna, midfielder Leandro Bacuna with Nicklas Helenius recruited from Aalborg BK to help ease the goal scoring burden on Benteke. Brad Guzan, Andreas Weimann, Matt Lowton and Ashley Westwood have all also signed new long term deals with the club.

Manager - Paul Lambert

Former Norwich manager Lambert was arguably afforded more time and patience than his predecessors as he struggled with a young and inexperienced squad last campaign. The 44-year-old was able to steady the ship somewhat towards the end of last season, but a club of Villa's stature will be expected to maintain a more stable position in the new campaign.

Key Player- Christian Benteke

Had Villa outright refused to sell the Belgian despite him wanting to leave the club earlier this summer, Benteke's presence at Villa Park in the new season could have proved to be a detrimental, rather than beneficial. But the renewed ambition the 22-year-old now has after withdrawing his transfer request and signing a new four year deal is likely to reverberate around Villa Park and lift a young squad who will be inspired over the prospect of having one of the league's most lethal strikers leading their attack.


After a raft of new signings and a season of testing experience for a blossoming side finding their feet under Lambert, Villa would be expected to avoid another brush with relegation this season. The rejuvenation Benteke's continued presence will have brought will be significant.


Villa showed vast signs of improvement at the end of last season, an upwards trajectory that should continue in the new campaign. 12<sup>th