Season Preview: Aston Villa

How did you fare last season?
We did really well considering the size of our squad and the only complaint was that we didn't pick up any silverware. A top six finish was good and we were really pushing the top four for a long period, it's just a shame we couldn't maintain our mid-season form until the end.

How do you expect you'll do this season?
It could be a similar story this season but I don't think we will impress as much. Without Gareth Barry and Martin Laursen we could struggle for leadership and I can not see us winning away as much as we did last time round. Hopefully we can improve our home form though.

What have you done in the transfer market this summer? Which of your new signings are you expecting most from?
We have snapped up Stewart Downing from Middlesbrough, Fabian Delph from Leeds and Habib Beye from Newcastle but I cannot see them making an immediate impact.

Beye will be a useful squad member but nothing more, whilst Downing cannot play until December. He should prove a good buy if he recovers fully from his injury.
Delph is a hugely promising player and hopefully he will break into the first team and impress. Of our three summer signings so far he is the most exciting in my opinion.

Where do you think you'll need to strengthen in the January transfer window?
Considering our demise at the end of last season we could certainly do with spending some cash half-way through the season to keep us going. We could do with more than just a steady player like Emile Heskey and a touch of mid-season inspiration wouldn't go amiss.

Have you any promising youngsters breaking into the team?
Delph is very much a promising youngster but the one to keep your eye on is wing wizard Marc Albrighton. The academy player has had a fine pre-season including some memorable displays in the Peace Cup and he will definitely get some games.

England under-19 man Nathan Delfouneso is also ready to make an impact.

Have you got the right man in charge of the team? Will he still be there at the end of the season?
Martin O'Neill is definitely the man to take us forward as he has shown during the three seasons he has been in charge. Unless a bigger side snap him up he should still be at Villa Park at the end of the season but who knows on the Premier League managerial merry go round. All we want from him now is some silverware.

Is the club being run well? Are you likely to be singing 'Sack the board' any time soon?
Randy Lerner has the best interests of the club and its supporters at heart and he couldn't really be any more of a fans' favourite.

Which team do you most want to beat and why?
Obviously our old rivals Birmingham City. The Blues are back in the big time but we are hoping to help send them back down to the Championship.

Who do you think will win the league?
I think it's Chelsea's year but Liverpool will go close. Surprisingly I don't fancy Manchester United or their rivals City. Chelsea have good experience and I think if they add a little more youth then they should do it. I do think it is very open this year.

Who do you think's going down?
I have to say Pompey's squad looks poor as they have sold a lot of quality. Hull will also struggle after a torrid time at the end of last year whilst Wolves probably don't have a good enough defence to hold off Premier League strikers. Burnley and Birmingham are also obviously in the mix.

How do you think Hull City will fare this season?
As I said, I think after such a demoralising end to last year, the Tigers will struggle. Whether it is a case of there being a few worse sides in the league remains to be seen but I think you guys will be facing a relegation battle. Sorry!

Tom Vickers is editor of Aston Villa Mad

Click here to read what Tom said at the end of last season about how Villa got on in 2008/09.