In a season where much is still possible, recent performances have shown where Aston Villa must still improve to move to the next level.
The evolution defensively this season have been impressive. Villa currently hold the third best defensive record in the Premier League, with only Manchester City and Chelsea boasting tighter backlines.
That’s in stark contrast to the team that conceded 67 goals in 38 league games last season, and with a settled back five and the team as a unit working well to make life difficult for the opposition, we appear to be in a good place in that regard albeit there is always room to improve the depth in the squad where possible.
However, the bigger issue lies further up the field as we’ve scored 42 goals in our 29 outings so far this campaign, with only Everton scoring less out of the eight teams above us in the standings.
Further, when you consider seven of those came in the same game against Liverpool and our attacking play was more potent and free-flowing in the first half of the season, the lack of goals over the last three months has to be a cause for concern moving forward if the trend continues through to the end of the season.
In turn, Dean Smith will surely be looking for attacking reinforcements in the summer transfer window, both to complement what he has at his disposal already but also to add new dimensions and traits to his options to ensure that we become a more threatening outfit across the frontline.
Naturally, losing skipper Jack Grealish for the last seven league games has hurt us. The 25-year-old has seven goals and 12 assists in 23 Premier League games so far this season, and so getting him back to lead our charge will undoubtedly make a huge difference.
However, from Ross Barkley struggling to warrant a permanent move to Villa Park with his poor form since returning from injury to the lack of consistency from Anwar El Ghazi, Trezeguet and Bertrand Traore, there are surely better potential options in terms of strengthening what we have around Grealish and Ollie Watkins in particular.
Wesley’s long-awaited return will be a major boost to give us something different up top while lessening the burden on Watkins, and so if Villa can identify and acquire a top-level playmaker who can play out wide or through the middle, it will only help us continue to make progress and become a stronger outfit moving forward.