Five key talking points after Villa’s 4-0 win over Walsall in pre-season

Aston Villa kick-started the pre-season schedule with a 4-0 win over Walsall on Wednesday night, with Emiliano Buendia putting on a show in his first appearance for the club.

There was disappointment prior to the game as it was confirmed that Dean Smith wouldn’t be on the touchline due to having to self-isolate with his family, but the Villa boss will have been pleased with the performance from his players.

READ MORE: Mail: Aston Villa line up £30m move for Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey

Embed from Getty Images

A double from Ollie Watkins set us on our way before Jaden Philogene-Bidace added a third and Aaron Ramsey wrapped things up to secure a comprehensive win.

Ultimately, this period is about building fitness and the players reaching their peak condition in time for the start of the Premier League season. It was an added bonus that they produced a top performance with lots of quality going forward, and so that will also help build confidence ahead of our trip to Watford on August 14.

Buendia impresses in first outing as Villa player

Yes, the opposition will be more difficult in the Premier League and some of the defending from Walsall was poor. Nevertheless, there were really positive signs from Buendia as he registered two assists on his non-competitive Villa debut.

From the vision to pick out Watkins twice to getting the execution right to split the defence and allow his Villa teammate to get in behind, it was great to see the Argentine make an immediate impact and hopefully it was just a peek at what’s to come from him moving forward.

Watkins will enjoy service this season

After bagging 16 goals in 40 appearances in his debut season with us, the 25-year-old will be desperate to build on that and add more goals this year.

While it’s hoped he’ll still get service from skipper Jack Grealish, Bertrand Traore, Anwar El Ghazi and others, he now has another creative player behind him in Buendia.

The pair looked like they’ve struck up an immediate understanding, and Watkins will no doubt thrive on that as well as his link up with the other playmakers in the squad.

Great to see Young’s return

Despite now being 36 years of age, it was first and foremost just nice to see Ashley Young back in a Villa shirt.

Beyond the sentimental aspect though, it was his performance that impressed the most as he put in a solid shift at left-back as we were given a hint over where he’ll likely play this season when in the side.

Aside from his quality on and off the ball, he was clearly a calming influence for some of the younger players at times and that experience and know-how he brings to the squad will be so important.

Youngsters, fringe players show Villa depth

From Philogene-Bidace and Ramsey getting their goals to Wesley’s assist and the entire XI being swapped out at half-time, Smith will be delighted with the depth he has.

Naturally, reinforcements will no doubt still be looked at in the coming weeks to strengthen the squad, but he has a good mix of experience, players with a point to prove and talented youngsters at his disposal to offer competition and intensity in training.

No injuries or setbacks

Although there was a slight scare at one stage involving Keinan Davis, Villa were importantly able to come through the game without sustaining any injuries.

It’s absolutely vital that the players stay healthy and get a full pre-season in their legs heading into that Premier League opener next month, and so to have everyone come off with no new issues was a huge boost in itself.

Morgan Sanson, Bertrand Traore and Matt Targett missed out with injury issues, but it’s hoped that they will all be involved in some capacity in the remaining four pre-season games.