BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Moussa Diaby of Aston Villa celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's first goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Fulham FC at Villa Park on November 12, 2023 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Aston Villa have enjoyed an outstanding start to the 2023/24 campaign, thrusting themselves well and truly into the Premier League top-four race and starting strongly in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
An early duck from the Carabao Cup was disappointing as
Everton came to town, earning a rare away win at Villa Park. Other than that and the 5-1 opening-day defeat to Newcastle United, however, there have not been many down moments.
Unai Emery's guidance of the squad has been exceptional and there have been countless strong performers on a consistent basis, a couple of which have stood out above the rest. A few have fallen below par, though, and need to step up.
Although the the results have been strong whenever he has played – three wins and a defeat with three conceded – the mistakes have been far too frequent. The Swede can be thankful not more of his misplaced passes out from the back have ended in goals conceded. It’s a shame because he’s definitely a popular figure in the dressing room.
With that in mind, here are our honest player ratings for the season so far, with a brief analysis of all 29 individuals to feature since the first fixture on August 12.
The World Cup winner has responded immensely well to the 5-1 defeat at Newcastle on the opening day with some extraordinary performances since. The 4-0 victory over Everton and the 1-0 win at Chelsea really stand out as Martinez made multiple top saves in each.A big mistake crept in at Nottingham Forest but we'd like his leadership from the back has been seriously impressive. Has shown a real improvement so far this term, especially going forward. Emery has sometimes even utilised him as a right midfielder due to his strength further up the field. Cash has three goals and two assists to his name. He’s also one of just five to feature in every match so far. Did an alright job in the home leg against Hibernian but was then massively exposed as Villa lost 3-2 away at Legia Warsaw. In our player ratings from that game, Chambers was handed a three as he was at fault for all of the goals. He’s not had a chance to redeem himself but this is a ‘so far’ article after all. Stood out like a sore thumb in the 2-1 Carabao Cup defeat to Everton and wasn’t his usual self in the 3-0 loss at Liverpool but has otherwise been near-enough faultless. We mention the errors first because he makes everything else look faultless. He's also just earned his first England call-up as a testament to his fine work. Only played 31 minutes before suffering a season-ending injury at Newcastle, so it’s not possible to give Mings anything higher than a six. We wish him all the best with his recovery. The big-money signing has settled in very well and has secured a place in the starting XI for most weeks. It may feel like we're giving too many eights out but it would be tricky not to give another to Pau – he's been that good. Still working hard to get back to full sharpness but has done a brilliant job to get back into things confidently after such a lengthy injury. Has looked composed and particularly impressive with his last-ditch defending, making plenty of late blocks and lunges. Has only played four times since signing on loan from Barcelona and all four appearances have been in the Europa Conference League. The defeat in Warsaw was a tough night for the Frenchman as he made a number of mistakes and didn’t show enough willingness to get back and correct them. Performances have been better since, though, lifting Lenglet to a five. Looked decent when he appeared at the start of the campaign and was perhaps unlucky to not be handed a chance in the senior squad this term. The left-back is set for more game time in the Championship at Rotherham United, though, and will be hoping to progress. Finally back in the matchday squad after a long-term hamstring problem but is yet to get any minutes. Will be hoping to nudge into the XI ahead of Digne soon. The most improved award might well have to go to this man as he went from being a player destined for an exit to a regular starter. With five assists and one goal in 18 games this term, the left-back has staked a claim to stay in the side ahead of Moreno. Was brought in last summer to offer depth and solidity at the base of midfield but hasn’t lived up to expectations. The Villans seem to have far less control in the centre of the park when Dendoncker plays and that can’t be a coincidence, unfortunately. It may come as a surprise, but the Belgian has actually played a part in every single fixture so far. Life at Villa Park wasn't easy at the start as Tielemans had some poor showings but has since improved plenty. The signs are there that he could become a key player for Villa; he just needs to break his way into the XI consistently somehow. Consistently outstanding, not just this season but for a long while. Luiz is so critical to Emery’s love for building from the back as he carries the ball forward effectively. Also has six goals and two assists to his name, proving he's a real threat from deep. Does an outstanding job alongside Luiz, allowing the Brazilian to push up without fear of remand. Kamara breaks up the play with a level of physicality above that of a usual 23-year-old. Still has some work to do with his passing when under pressure but has plenty of time to reach his potential. The skipper has worked harder than anyone and Villa would be very different without him. Not only has McGinn ran the hard yards, but he’s used his range of passing effectively to kick-start attacks. Adding goal contributions to his game now, too, with five goals and three assists in his 19 games. Played just 24 minutes before leaving for Al-Duhail. Looked brilliant in pre-season but never had a chance to impress on a competitive level this term due to a hamstring injury picked up in the 4-0 win over Everton. Only has three appearances to his name due to an injury. Scoring a brilliant goal in the emphatic victory over Brighton and will be keen to carry on that form when he. eventually comes back, likely after this international break. Currently faces an uncertain future due to betting allegations and it appears to have gotten to him as his performances have been short of what he's capable of. Some signs of talent have emerged but the Italian often gives the ball away cheaply. He's lost his starting place to Leon Bailey for the time being. Definitely looks a promising player just in behind the striker and worked hard to create openings – and notch an assist – on his start against Hibs. Still very raw and has mistakes in him but is one to watch for the years to come. Just like Mings, the Argentine suffered a devastating knee injury at the start of the campaign and won’t play until the pre-season of 2024/25. The Jamaican used to struggle with indecisiveness in the final third, and that still happens occasionally, but the improvement has been huge. Bailey has six goals and six assists in just 887 minutes, making him the most clinical in the Premier League. Played five minutes before leaving on a permanent deal to Sheffield United. Gained the Villans £15 million with the transfer. Sold to Hull City after featuring for just three competitive minutes. Looked a real star in pre-season but wanted to leave for better game time. Left for around £3.5 million. Hasn’t had much of a chance to play – partly down to injuries – and so there isn’t much to judge the winger from. Will likely struggle to get minutes with so many players ahead of him in the pecking order. Villa’s risky £52 million record signing has hit the ground running superbly with three goals and five assists in 17 games across all competitions. Gets fans off their seats with his tricky footwork and darting pace down the flanks. Compliments Watkins so well and has become one of the first names on the team sheet. Having to accept an off-the-bench role this campaign but has taken that in his stride, with four goals in 305 minutes. Game time has dropped considerably since September, however, even in Europe. Really coming into his own, Watkins has been the top player for goal involvements this season as he's netted 11 and assisted five. The England international has two hat-tricks in all competitions and deservedly signed a new, bumper contract recently.