By James Murray

9th Aug, 2023 | 10:30am

Darren Bent tips Aston Villa for Champions League push on talkSPORT

Darren Bent has tipped Aston Villa to challenge for the top four of the Premier League in the upcoming campaign.

Speaking on the talkSPORT Drive show on 8 August, the former Villa forward said the club are a potential dark horse following the progress made under Unai Emery.

Bent has also been impressed by the Villans’ transfer business this summer after bringing in Youri Tielemans, Pau Torres and Moussa Diaby.

“Villa is the team to watch,” said Bent.

“I think when you look at their recruitment and what they’re doing with Unai Emery, I’m not saying they’re going to win the league because I don’t think they will but I think they’ll be a lot closer to Europe.

“Maybe even push it for long spells, the Champions League, so I’d probably say Villa are my outside bet.”

Expectations building

It’s clear to see that expectations are building not just at Aston Villa but also from those on the outside watching in after an impressive few months for the club.

They have gone from strength to strength since Emery walked through the door last October and there seems to be no sign of that slowing down.

It will still be difficult to make an assault on the Champions League places, but Newcastle United finished in the top four last season and in previous campaigns, Leicester City and West Ham came close to achieving the same feat.

The confidence coming off the back of last season’s qualification for the Europa Conference League has also created a positive feeling around the club and that could be a key factor in getting off to a good start in the Premier League.

There is no reason as to why the club can’t at least have the ambition of challenging for those places even if it may still be a year or so too early for them as they look to keep on building.

In other Aston Villa news, Jamie Carragher said Villa have made an “unbelievable signing” this summer.