Gabriel Agbonlahor believes Aston Villa are capable of going to the next level after claiming opponents are scared of the attacking options available to Martin O'Neill.
The England Under-21 striker insists Villa are making progress despite only equalling their achievement of 12 months ago in finishing sixth in the Barclays Premier League after spending much of the first half of the season in the top four.
The Academy product feels the defensive approach adopted by teams against Villawas a compliment to the quality of John Carew, Emile Heskey, Ashley Young, JamesMilner and himself.
Agbonlahor, currently preparing for the European Under-21 Championships inSweden, said: 'We were disappointed we didn't finish higher than last season but we still picked up more points than last season and so are improving.
'I think it was a better season than last season because clubs were more scared of us, especially coming to Villa Park, but also when we went to their grounds.
'Clubs did fear us. We went to the top four away and caused them problems. We went to Manchester United and did that and it was the same with Arsenal away.
VILLA'S ATTACK - THE FACTSLeague goals only
120 games, 32 goals: 0.26 goals/game
70 games, 27 goals: 0.38 goals/game
86 games, 28 goals: 0.32 goals/game
63 games, 4 goals: 0.06 goals/game
14 games, 2 goals: 0.14 goals/game
'Now We just have to try and continue that next season.
'Teams were more defensive against us, dropped back a lot.
'A lot of them played with effectively a back five and just tried to defend against us.
'It was a credit to our attacking force.'
Agbonlahor is optimistic Villa can mount a sustained challenge for a ChampionsLeague spot next season.
He said: 'It will be hard to go to the next step but we are capable of doing it. There is a lot of quality at the club and I am sure the gaffer will look to bring more in.'