Aston Villa have made an admirable start to life back in the top-flight and are sitting comfortably in 12th, just three points behind the top six and a point ahead of Premier League giants Manchester United.
Their solid start to the season has come as no surprise to former Villa talisman Gabriel Agbonlahor, who believes his old club are already on course for a successful season.
Agbonlahor tells The Sportsman: “I think they’ll surprise a lot. I think 12th, 13th, I think they’ll finish.
“If you spoke to the club now and the manager and the coaching staff, their aim is to stay up. So if they can stay up at any means necessary, I think it’s a great season.”
Unsurprisingly, following Villa’s triumphant promotion from the Championship last season it’s been a summer of change for the Villans, with £130m spent on new arrivals. And Agbonlahor likes what he’s seen from the club so far this season.
“They’ve been playing great from what I’ve been watching of the team, they’ve been very unlucky with VAR on a few, that’s cost them a few points. I think so far they’ve been playing really well," he explains.
“I think Tyrone Mings looks like a rock at the back. He looks very strong. Tom Heaton in goal... the likes of Jack Grealish and John McGinn in midfield. Conor Hourihane has been getting goals, so all round I’m looking at the team and I’m positive they’d stay up.”
It’s not just the players that have Agbonlahor swooning, with manager and lifelong Villa fan Dean Smith at the helm of the club:
“I just like the way he’s positive, you know like from watching the team there’s no negative. They play attacking football, which is what the fans here want to see and I think it’s the set-up they’ve got there with John Terry as well. You know, it’s great for the club. I think they’ll stay up.”
Aston Villa travel to second-placed Manchester City in the early kick-off on Saturday at 12.30 pm.