Aston Villa will play in a European competition for the first time in 13 years during the 2023/24 season, but that could be just the tip of the iceberg following their remarkable end to the campaign.

The Villains have averaged nearly two points per game since Unai Emery took charge last October, and their form in the final 12 matches of the season – W8 D2 L2 – was bettered only by Manchester City.

That’s just one of the reasons why Aston Villa supporters are so bullish about next season – a sentiment shared by defender Tyrone Mings.

European Adventure

The EPL betting odds make Aston Villa the ninth most likely team to win the Premier League title in 2023/24, behind names like Manchester City (8/15), Newcastle United (15/2), and Arsenal (9/1). Even so, there will be EPL tips columns that predict a potential run at the top four for an Aston Villa team that was in excellent form during the final third of last season.

There will be new challenges next term – not least the balancing act of trying to be successful on home soil while competing in the Europa Conference League, which requires a deep squad of in-form players.

But in Emery, the Villans have a head coach with a glittering resumé in European football – he’s a four-time Europa League winner with Spanish Sevilla and Villarreal, and runner-up with Arsenal in 2018/19.

There’s also a bullishness in the Villa camp that has been vocalized by Mings, the defender whose form towards the end of the campaign saw him earn a call-up to the England set-up.

The 30-year-old revealed his belief that ‘something is changing’ at Aston Villa as they look to establish themselves as a top-six club in the Premier League, and confirmed he was ‘excited’ for the future as Emery continues to mold his young squad into a genuine force in English football. Mings has already reaped the rewards for that with an England recall, and he may soon be joined on the international circuit by a club colleague.

Watkins Waits

Scoring goals in the Premier League isn’t easy – no matter how simple the likes of Harry Kane make it look. The transition to top-flight striker hasn’t always been an easy one for Ollie Watkins, but the penny appears to have dropped for the 27-year-old under the watchful eye of Emery.

Since the start of 2023, Watkins has scored 12 Premier League goals in 20 games – a strike rate that would net him the 20-goal tally over a whole season, something that is considered to be the gold standard for an elite striker. He has previously featured in an England squad, although Gareth Southgate has not included him in his selection for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia in June – despite the striker’s excellent form. But it surely won’t be long until Watkins, who also chipped in with six Premier League assists last term, is recalled to the international scene.

What a turnaround in fortunes that is for a club battling relegation as recently as 2020! How high can Aston Villa climb?