Callum Robinson's first-half strike saw Tim Sherwood's side draw 1-1 at the Bescot Stadium in their fourth pre-season encounter.
Idrissa Gueye makes a promising start
After left-back Jordan Amavi’s mid-week debut against Swindon earned rave reviews, fellow summer signing Gueye received equal plaudits for his claret and blue bow on Saturday.
The Senegalese midfielder stood out with his passing and movement in the final third, while he also tested the opposition keeper with a couple of long-range efforts before being withdrawn just after the hour.
Though better known for his defensive qualities during his time in French football, the former Lille star has declared that he is aiming to get among the goals at Villa and, judging from his first outing, he should have a few in his locker.
Micah Richards shows his leadership
After a second straight game wearing the armband, it looks like Villa’s new skipper could well be one of their summer arrivals.
Richards certainly looked like captain material while marshalling the back four on Saturday afternoon and, having racked up 180 Premier League appearances over the past decade, there’s little doubt that he has experience to lead Sherwood’s side.
Libor Kozak's comeback bid looking good
With Christian Benteke now gone, Kozak is making an excellent case for a central role in Sherwood’s plans for the coming campaign.
After being out of first-team action for 19 months following horrific leg-break, the fit-again striker has made an impressive return to the senior side in recent weeks and looked especially sharp in his 88-minute run-out against Walsall.
As well as setting up Callum Robinson’s 22nd-minute opener with a left wing cross, the Czech Republic international’s movement off the ball was fantastic and he should have earned a penalty just before the hour after being man-handled in the area.
If he can go on to recapture the promise he showed before being sidelined, when the former Lazio man netted four times in his first 14 league games for Villa, then the impact of Benteke’s departure will at least be somewhat diminished.
Callum Robinson proves his promise
Meanwhile, after a rather slow start to pre-season, Kozak’s strike-partner kicked into life at the Bescot Stadium.
Robinson looked like Villa’s most dangerous attacking outlet on the afternoon, producing a clever touch and finish for his goal, while pulling the Walsall defence all over the place at times with his clever running and off-the-ball movement.
At age 20, it’s obvious that he still has a lot to learn but, after spending most of last season out on loan at Preston, the former trainee is showing definite signs of developing into a real difference-maker.
He might not be able to be relied on this term but, if given a few top-flight outings here and there, Sherwood could just catch lightning in a bottle.
No reason to panic… yet
The recent departures of Benteke and Fabian Delph might have filled Villa fans with pessimism ahead of the new season but, with several weeks left before the top-flight opener at Bournemouth, there’s little reason to panic at this point.
Saturday’s game was filled with plenty of bright displays and, with the likes of Gary Gardner, Gabby Agbonlahor, Jack Grealish, Carles Gil and Carlos Sanchez all coming back into contention, the squad has more than enough about it to avoid another relegation-threatened campaign.
With no certified 10-goal-a-season options at Sherwood’s disposal, another striker [or two] is still a must-add before the transfer window closes but, if a Charlie Austin-type arrives in the near future, then there’s every reasons to be positive about 2015-16.