Premier League team guide: Aston Villa in the spotlight
After a bright start to life under Steven Gerrard, Aston Villa will be looking to improve on a disappointing 14th-place finish in 2021-22.
The Villans' initial improvement under Gerrard eventually tailed off. But the former Liverpool skipper will hope to build on that in his first full campaign at the helm.
The Midlands outfit have a rich history but success has been hard to come by in recent years. Gerrard's aim will be to get his side back into Europe after an 11-year absence.
Last season: 14th
Aston Villa made a promising start to the season and beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in September to move up to eighth.
However, the West Midlands side then went on a dismal run of five defeats in a row, which signalled the end for for previous boss Dean Smith.
Gerrard arrived from Rangers to help steady the ship and his appointment had the desired effect.
Villa's form picked up — winning four of his first six games while only losing to Liverpool and Manchester City — but two wins from 11 at the end of the season confirmed a 14th-place finish.
Aston Villa hit the transfer market early and confirmed four signings by July 1.
After Philippe Coutinho made his loan spell permanent at a knockdown £17million, fellow Brazilian Diego Carlos followed from Sevilla.
The aggressive centre-back cost £26m but should toughen up a defence that was too leaky last term.
Perhaps the most exciting addition was Boubacar Kamara, 22, arriving on a free transfer. The French midfielder was highly sought after by Europe's top clubs after running his Marseille contract down.
Completing the Villans' business is goalkeeper Robin Olsen, who will provide cover for No1 Emi Martinez.
4-3-3: Martinez; Cash, Carlos, Mings, Digne; Kamara, McGinn, Ramsey; Coutinho, Watkins, Bailey.
Gerrard has shown some tactical variance since arriving at Villa Park but a narrow 4-3-3 seems the most likely bet going forward.
Goalkeeper Martinez will be protected by a back four of Matty Cash, Carlos, Tyrone Mings and Lucas Digne.
In midfield, new signing Kamara will join the long-serving John McGinn and local lad Jacob Ramsey to offer balance.
Up top, Coutinho and Leon Bailey — something of a forgotten man last season — are likely to flank England star Ollie Watkins.
Star man: Philippe Coutinho
The loan capture of Coutinho, 30, was seen as something of a coup by Villa in January.
The Brazilian was one of the stars of the Premier League during his previous spell in England at Liverpool, scoring 41 goals.
With his £121m move to Barcelona in 2018 not going as planned, Gerrard offered his former Reds team-mate a chance to play first-team football again.
An impressive five goals and three assists during the second half of the campaign proved the playmaker has still got it.
The Villans will hope for more of the same after stumping up £17m to make the move permanent.
Up-and-comer: Carney Chukwuemeka
Villa have made a habit of developing homegrown stars and have another exciting young talent on their hands in midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka.
Chukwuemeka, 18, edged closer to the first team in 2021-22, making 12 appearances for Villa and grabbing an assist.
It has been a memorable summer for the Austria-born starlet who was part of the England side that won the European Under-19 Championship.
Chukwuemeka scored to put the Young Lions 2-1 up in extra-time in the final and they went on to beat Israel 3-1 and lift the trophy.
However, he is absent from Villa's pre-season tour of Australia after failing to sign a new contract amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona and Newcastle.
The boss: Steven Gerrard
Gerrard, 42, is widely regarded as one of the Premier League's greatest midfielders — and has a burgeoning managerial reputation to match.
Appointed as Rangers boss in 2018, he stopped Celtic from winning 10 in a row as the Gers clinched their 55th top-flight title in 2021 while going undefeated.
In November 2021, Gerrard surprised many by leaving Ibrox to take over from Smith at Aston Villa.
Despite a disappointing end to his first season in charge, Villa fans can take encouragement from the fact he will be able to have a full pre-season with a number of his own signings.
All information correct as of 3pm, July 20, 2022