Aston Villa's fortunes appear to be changing this season.
Ten points from four games represents a remarkable start for any team in the Premier League and Paul Lambert's side currently occupy a lofty second place in the table.
The moans and groans of past campaigns are gradually dissipating as Villa's successful start to the 2014/15 Premier League season has induced a sense of hope amongst supporters.
Talk of a top ten finish has replaced the usual despair of facing another season of flirtation with the relegation zone and the weight of expectancy is slowly beginning to lift from the shoulders of Paul Lambert.
With Christian Benteke returning to training this week, Aston Villa fans certainly have a lot to be excited about and there is an abundance of optimism as the Villans prepare to take on Chelsea and champions Manchester City in the coming weeks.
But why have Aston Villa enjoyed such a successful start to their season? Here
are six reasons why Paul Lambert's side have begun so brightly...
6. Retaining Ron
After a string of sterling performances at this year's World Cup, it was widely expected that Ron Vlaar would be the big name departure from Villa Park this summer.
Under the leadership of Louis van Gaal, Vlaar dazzled the World with his superb defensive displays in Brazil and the 29-year-old was a commanding presence in the Netherlands back line.
Despite the temptation of more glamorous football in pastures new, Vlaar has stayed for a third season of Premier League football in the midlands and fortunately for his team-mates and supporters, the Dutchman is beginning to replicate his dominant performances of the Dutch Oranje in the Claret and Blue of Aston Villa.
5. Roy Keane
One of Aston Villa's most exciting and intriguing signings over the summer came in the shape of Roy Keane.
There were a few raised eyebrows when it was announced that the former Manchester United and Celtic midfielder would become a part of Paul Lambert's coaching staff, with many believing it signalled the the end of the Scotsman's tenure at Villa Park.
However the Irishman's arrival has transformed Lambert's previously frail looking side into a solid and stable unit. Reminiscent of Keane's combative playing style, Villa now appear a more robust outfit and the players have added extra grit and determination to their performances on the pitch.
Whilst it remains to be seen whether Keane will eventually take over the hotseat at Villa Park, his presence amongst the backroom staff could prove to be an invaluable addition this season.
4. Fabian Delph
England's latest debutant has been a key figure in Paul Lambert's team over the past few seasons and it seems the 24-year-old will be an integral part of Villa's success this year.
Delph can offer plenty of energy in the middle of the park and his quick turn of pace can often result in defence quickly transforming into attack.
Despite being accused of being too rash with challenges, the left-footed player has quickly become the 'Mr. Dependable' of Lambert's Villa side and supporters will continue to look to him for inspiration this season.
Unfortunately for Villa fans, as the postive reviews regarding Delph's performances continue to emerege the young England international will undoubtedly become a target for a bigger club.
Hopefully Lambert and the board will tie the promising midfielder down to a new contract over the coming weeks.
3. Fabian Delph
Paul Lambert performed some canny business in this year's transfer market.
Villa's poor performances over the past few seasons have highlighted the desperate need for experienced reinforcements and Lambert opted to acquire several tried and tested Premier League campaigners over the summer.
Surprisingly, the most impressive recruit has been Philippe Senderos. The Swiss international had gained a reputation for being a rather clumsy centre-half and prone to making several defensive
howlers. However, next to the commanding Vlaar, the former Fulham man appears self-assured and has produced a series of strong defensive displays in the 2014/15 season openers.
Other veteran recruits include Kieran Richardson and Joe Cole. Both experienced indifferent seasons last year, but the pair should provide Villa with a valuable depth to the squad as the team look to avoid another relegation scrap this season.
2. The Return of the exiled
After spending time in the footballing wilderness, many of Villa's forgotten players have been called in from the cold this season.
The most notable returner has been Scotland international Alan Hutton. The 29-year-old defender has returned to the squad with a point to prove and after strong performances in the league, the former Rangers player is eager to remind Villa fans and his manager what they have been missing.
Hutton has played every game of the Premier League campaign this year and he could prove to be a vital part of Villa's success in the coming year.
Darren Bent and Charles N'Zogbia have also been given the chance to re-ignite their Aston Villa careers and fans will hope they can emulate Hutton's return to form.
1. Boys Become Men
Before the start of the season, Paul Lambert boldly claimed his young players could no longer rely on the excuse of youth and inexperience for poor performances.
When the ex-Norwich boss took over at Villa park in 2012, Lambert's immediate decision was to turn to Villa's young academy products in the hope of building his new-look side.
The Scotsman was perhaps slightly naïve to use so many fresh faced youngsters early on and relegation could have been the ultimate penalty for putting such faith in the future.
However, it seems that Lambert's investment in young players is beginning to pay off and players such as Nathan Baker and Ashley Westwood are now established Premier League regulars.
The pair should continue to blossom this season, with a new-found confidence replacing fear and apprehension when competing against other Premier League sides.
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