16 Aug Championship Preview: Aston Villa
As we enter our second year under Gemma Davies, its a very different looking team and outfit to when she came into the club not only with 9 players coming in and 8 leaving but also in the style of play that we execute on the pitch every game. Christian Purslow promised Villa fans last season during Jodie Hutton’s contract video that he wanted to make changes and that he believed that, Aston Villa should have the number one women’s team in the midlands. He certainly seems to of delivered on these claims and promises as we enter what seems like a new era of football. We have moved from Aston Villa Ladies to Aston Villa Women, under a new branding that keeps with everyone else changing to Women. It’s not only the name that has changed but also the squad has changed dramatically with Ali Hall, Tanisha Smith, Hollie Gibson, Aja Aguirre, Tash Baptiste, Ria Elsmore, Hayley Crackle and Ashlee Brown all making way from the team. Players that made a big impact last season that will be missed for sure this season. But with the changes it saw 9 new signings come into the team 8 that you will of heard of and that you can read about on my other post New Signings that include Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Melissa Johnson, Charlotte Greengrass, Marisa Ewers, Shania Hayles, Emma Follis, Emily Syme and Natalie Haigh. But also our new young Polish star, Daniela Kosinska, she joins our goalkeeping department to join up with Sian Rogers.
The coaching staff nearly remain the same with losing Coza Mitchell, who again is another person that really brought a lot to the team and matchdays from a fans perspective, but the heart of the team remains with Gemma Davies and Carly Davies pushing Villa from the sidelines and Martyn West doing the camera work and anything and everything to help the team, a truly great guy and one so happy didn’t move on. Greg Styles working on the media has been fantastic in preseason giving great content to help promote and push the team towards the season starting. Amber Wildgust our GM, no doubt working like a wasp in a pint glass. Always trying to keep everyone happy and connected with the team and the fans. And as always it’s fantastic to walk in and be greeted on the turnstile by Linda as you enter the ground.
Expectations will be very different after starting the season last year with a 0-12 loss to Manchester United in Gemma Davies first game, we carried the underdog status for a lot of the season as we had such a slow start but picked up momentum as the season came to an end. This season we start the season off with a feeling that we should be moving towards promotion into the Women’s Super League with the two Birmingham City players moving to us in Marisa Ewers and Emma Follis, as well as the other incredible players we haven brought in to add to the fantastic squad members we had last season. It’s hard to find a weak link when you go through the team and the bench. This would be our best chance to ever get promoted and follow in Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur footsteps from last season.
As always our home games will be played at Boldmere, which is a place we truly love having as our home ground. We do have a game listed to play at Villa Park against Blackburn later in the season, the newly promoted team last season beat us twice in friendlies so will be interesting to see how that goes with our new look squad. At least we know that our performance will be better than last years 0-0 draw with Leicester City, thankfully there best player on that day Ella Franklin-Fraiture will be wearing the Claret And Blue this season.
We start our season at home on Sunday against Sheffield United with a 3pm kick off at Boldmere. We seem to draw Sheffield in everything we do as we played them 4 times last season, losing the first two games 1-2 and 4-1 at Bramall Lane. The next two games we won 5-1 and drew 3-3 in an amazing cup game that saw us get through to the quarter-final of the Women’s FA Cup. Jodie Hutton loves to score against Sheffield netting 6 goals in 4 games including two hatricks, unfortunately she will most likely be out for the opening game of the season but hopefully she will return to action soon. We will also be missing Alice Hassall who had to have surgery, she might be missing on the pitch but not in support and as a part of the team. I’m not sure if Jade Richards is still in USA as well.
Five Players To Watch
1. Sian Rogers – A lot of the time Goalkeepers don’t always get the credit and the glory they deserve. Since I first saw Sian play she only seems to get better and better with each season and each game. Last season she was one of the stars for sure as she was in every conversation we had about Player Of The Season. Keeping a clean sheet will be a huge part of the campaign as if you don’t let them score you can’t lose. Another reason that Sian is such a huge part of the squad is the say she interacts with the fans as well as what she does on the pitch.
2. Amy West – The engine room in the midfield, the heart and soul of playing for the badge. Amy gets better year after year, last season was truly her best season in the claret and blue as she picked up AVFC Women’s Player Of The Season something that we’ve never heard of before and such a willing winner as well. She is amazing to the fans being a fan of Villa as well, she is one of our own and couldn’t be prouder of the fact. She not only works hard on and off the pitch but also steps up with incredible goals and assists from set pieces. I am so proud to sponsor Amy for the second season in a row, as well as her name on my shirt for the 4th season running.
3. Ella Franklin-Fraiture – Leicester City Outstanding player of last season joined us and has smashed every preseason game so far, her link up play with Sophie Haywood has been incredible to watch so far and is only going to blossom more as the season goes on. Her reading of the game is incredible and her pace and runs up and down the wing will be something to behold. Proud to be sponsoring Ella in her first season at Villa Women as I know she truly will be one of the outstanding players this season. Also would be one of my picks for any tea and not just Villa Women.
4. Natalie Haigh – Natalie has been fantastic throughout preseason in the games she has played for us. Adds such class and calm to our back line. Not only there to clear the back line when anything comes into the area but also a real threat going forward from set pieces as she proved against Nottingham Forest when she bagged her first goal for Aston Villa. She reads the game so well and is vocal to everyone to keep the defensive line so tight and together. Defiantly a great add to our defensive prowess.
5. Sophie Haywood – Sophie enters her second season with Aston Villa Women, her first was an overall successful one, scoring goals, getting assists and getting Villa on the front foot. The Gun Show was in full effect as she dazzled defenders up the wing. Again another person that doesn’t just bolster our name on the pitch but off the pitch is such an amazing person and one you can be proud that wears our colours. As the season went on Sophie got better and better becoming one our of key players last season and will no doubt be one of the key players this season. Very proud to be Sophie Haywood’s Sponsor for the upcoming season.