Aston Villa and Leeds are sleeping superpowers that have come to life this season … if anyone can overcome the dominance of the Big Six, why not them?
- Aston Villa defeated Leeds in their first top-flight meeting since 2004
- They are two historic clubs that have experienced grim hardships in recent times
- While others struggled this summer, both have spent a lot of money improving their teams
- A hugely impressive start to the season has seen a welcome return to the top
- Leeds and Villa could take the lead in breaking the Big Six’s stranglehold
Aston Villa has won more top titles than Tottenham and Manchester City and their only European Cup puts them above Spurs, City and Arsenal in the continental pecking order.
Leeds’s three league titles are one more than Spurs have won and, although they fell short in the 1975 European Cup Final, they twice claimed the Inter-city Fairs Cup.
Drop Project Big Picture and the self-proclaimed ‘Big Six’. Here were two of English football’s most evocative names playing hammer and pliers at their first Premier League meeting since February 2004.
Aston Villa and Leeds competed in the Premier League for the first time in 16 years on Friday
Leeds was superior, but it was a showcase of the two clubs’ comebacks from recent fights
What a shame there were only a handful of people in Villa Park to see it. What an atmosphere it would have been with more than 40,000 people in the ground roaring the players.
The game here needs a strong Villa and a strong Leeds. Both have gone through terrible times on and off the field this century.
Leeds fell all the way to League One after relegation from the Premier League in 2004 and suffered FA Cup defeats to Histon and Hereford in consecutive seasons.
Villa nearly went bankrupt after losing the championship play-off final in 2018.
Marcelo Bielsa is far from replicating past glories, but their shape was a welcome surprise
Villa was able to strengthen itself this summer with acquisitions such as Ollie Watkins despite Covid-19
Leeds were also able to bring in Rodrigo from Valencia, breaking their transfer record
There is still some way to go before Dean Smith’s Villa can rival the teams of Ron Saunders and Graham Taylor, just as Marcelo Bielsa – despite all that he is revered by Leeds supporters – cannot yet be placed next to Don Revie or Howard Wilkinson.
But if anyone wants to break the control that the Big Six intend to put into English football, why wouldn’t it be Villa and Leeds?
While most clubs around the world tightened their belts during the coronavirus pandemic, Villa’s billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens flexed their muscles and spent nearly £ 100 million on new players this summer.
Owner Andrea Radrizzani was also assertive on Elland Road.
The clubs are institutions of the English games and something the Premier League needs
While their co-promoted clubs West Brom and Fulham had limited room for maneuver in the market, Leeds have gone for it, with Rodrigo Moreno – a regular for Spain – as well as Diego Llorente, Raphinha and Robin Koch, all coveted. by other players.
If both have good seasons, their owners will certainly be willing to spend again.
In such a multinational competition, both Villa and Leeds have a British core that is a nod to their great sides.
Kalvin Phillips, Jack Harrison, Luke Ayling and Patrick Bamford are the main cogs in Bielsa’s machine, just as Jack Grealish, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and John McGinn are in Smith’s. Looks like there are a lot more to come from them this season.
Although the present of these clubs does not yet reflect their impressive past, they dare to dream of an even brighter future.