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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Villa should target top-10 finish

Aston Villa FanZoner Tom Davis believes a top-half finish is a realistic ambition for Paul Lambert's young side this season.

Last Updated: 29/07/13 at 17:44 Post Comment

Aston Villa: Should target top 10 in Premier League

Aston Villa: Should target top 10 in Premier League

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How has your pre-season gone?

Our tour of Germany ended in three consecutive 1-1 draws. The three games that followed saw us both draw, lose and win, but the lack of wins aren't really that much of a concern.

Pre-season is all about getting your fitness levels up and integrating the new signings in the side and, given we brought our players in early during the summer window, we're well-equipped for the season on that note.

Are you happy with how things have shaped up in terms of transfers - both in and out?

The transfer moves in have been very impressive from Paul Lambert. The real coup from the bunch brought in has got to be Jores Okore for a snip of a price at around £4million.

Judging from his pre-season performances, Leadro Bacuna could also be one to watch, creating goals from crosses whilst also hitting a screamer from distance against Crewe. Nicklas Helenius has also shown he has an eye for goal.

Is your current manager the right man for the job?

Simply put, there's no better man for it. Any transfer fees paid during this summer will easily be balanced out over the course of the season by removing the wages of the likes of Darren Bent, Shay Given and Stephen Ireland. Players signing this summer expressed excitement at being part of Lambert's youth-driven side, and everyone at the club from the players and chairman to the fans are behind him.

Dare to dream - if everything clicked into place what's the best you could hope for?

A top-half finish would be a fantastic achievement for the players this season having fought so hard to remain in the league during the last campaign.

If we could go on a cup run and reach Wembley then that would also be great for the fans. Swansea did it last season and it could very well have been us if it wasn't for that two-legged clash against Bradford.

Back to reality - what are your realistic expectations for the new campaign?

It's all about gradual steps with Lambert and we should finish comfortably mid-table this season, but ending up somewhere in the top 10 isn't an impossible feat either.

Last season was an anomaly in the sense that there was no clear team doomed to relegation until the final few months whereas normally teams get cut off near Christmas. I can't see that happening again this season so that should help us in our own ambitions not to be amongst any relegation candidates.

Who will visiting scouts be keeping an eye on this season?

Matt Lowton was impressive for us at right-back last season, catching the eyes of neutrals with his wonder strike against Stoke City in our 3-1 victory. But he is one of the most consistent performers in our side and combines a decent defensive awareness with good attacking sense as well. At 24, he could easily go on to earn caps for England too.

If you had to pick one player who'd be fit for every minute of every game, who would it be?

The focal point of our transfer window was always going to be Christian Benteke. Badly advised by his agent when there was no club willing to match his asking price or just a ploy for a bigger wage packet? Either way, whilst the transfer request wasn't ideal, to have him with us for this season is so important. He is the spearhead of our attack and when he is on top of his game the rest of the team is as well.

On the flip side (without being cruel!), who is the player with most to prove?

There's no hiding the fact that our defence was rather susceptible to goals last season. There was no stand-out leader and our only real experienced head at the back, Ron Vlaar, found his debut season in the league tough at times.

Whilst the whole backline could do with improving, Joe Bennett was the weakest spot in our defence, and basic errors meant he was caught out on more than one occasion. But the arrival of Antonio Luna should give him greater competition for his first-team place.

If you could sign any one player from any other side in the same division who would you plump for?

As mentioned, defence was a key area to improve on this summer. Although this isn't realistic given his recent move, Martin Olsson would have been ideal.

I've been really impressed with Norwich's transfer signings this summer and their capture of Olsson from Blackburn is great piece of business. He has experience in the Premier League, is a current international, came with a relatively low cost and small wages plus is still only 25 - he would have suited us perfectly.

If you only win one game all season who would you take three points from?

It's got to be West Brom, hasn't it? Two league draws against them last season saw our only derby fixture end in stalemate but they secured bragging rights over us in the league table position for the second season running. Getting one over them early on in the season with an away win in November wouldn't go a miss!

You can follow Warren on Twitter at @tomdav1991 - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too for links to all the latest blogs.

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