Aston Villa, as ever, huffed and puffed last season this time to a 15th place finish but it never seemed as though the fans were happy with what they were seeing for any prolonged amount of time. Their home form, for a club of their size and the support that they get, continues to be entirely unacceptable and they were regularly bailed out by the fact that their counter attacking style often reaps them dividends on the road and against top teams.

Villa do though have the players to have a season which at least keeps them away from the relegation fight and Joe Cole can still contribute something to a team of this level in terms of his experience and the threat he will still pose.

The likes of Bacuna, Weimann, Delph and, although not on top form last season, Benteke can all be a real threat to teams and showed in some of their performances against the top teams notably against Arsenal (winning 3-1), Chelsea (winning 1-0) and Man City (winning 3-2) that they have the potential to do what Southampton did for example last season and finish top half IF they could perform on a consistent basis. The unfortunate thing for Villa fans at the moment is that they lack a leader on the pitch who could make all the difference - if they could find someone who could replicate the effect that Stylian Petrov had during his time at the club then they would have a much better chance of staying away from trouble, allowing their attacking players to flourish.

Having a leader on the pitch would also be helpful for the young players that Paul Lambert likes to have around the squad but obviously it has to be noted that leaders do not grow off trees, instead they come through experience and someone may surprise us and emerge in this role as the season progresses - Ron Vlaar for example has had a decent World Cup and could be such a player to fit that description if he's prepared to step up and take the mantle.

Everything considered I think Aston Villa will have a mid-table finish this season but as hinted to earlier have the potential to do better. I think that if they do not improve on last year and get into the throws of a relegation battle again at any point then the pressure this time around will be too much for Paul Lambert to survive.

The quality of player that they already have, combined with the support they get and the fact that they have made some positive signings mean that there is no real excuse to struggle this year in my opinion. 2014-15 Prediction: 9th.