Many feared the worst for Aston Villa last season following wholesale changes to the club’s management and squad, but after a tough start to the 2012/2013 Premier League campaign, the Villans emerged as a real force to stave off relegation from the English top flight.

Most at Villa Park, including Paul Lambert, would probably settle for another Premier League survival campaign this year, but we at Football FanCast believe the Birmingham-based outfit have enough about them to not only preserve their top flight status yet again but also go on to exceed expectations and be a major threat to the league’s middle order.

So with that in mind, here’s FIVE reasons the Villans can defy the odds and truly excel this year.

CLICK ON CHRISTIAN BENTEKE TO REVEAL FIVE REASONS ASTON VILLA CAN EXCEED EXPECTATIONS THIS SEASON

Christian Benteke