It’s here! it’s finally here!
Like big kids at Christmas we have been counting down the hours until the Premier League seasons resumes.
For our opponents Bournemouth, this will be their first stint in the top flight. Whilst Villa faced them en-route to the FA Cup final last season, both the circumstances and Villa side have changed significantly. However, a similar result would be nice.
Villa will likely field a plethora of new faces, with all making their first competitive debuts for the club. The general concern is about how quickly the new faces can “gel”. This is probably the least of our worries, given what will likely be a boisterous home crowd in the compact Dean Court stadium.
Villa have in my view bought wisely during the close season, clearing out a great deal of players who have consistently let us down, whilst seeking to replace those who abandoned ship with the best young talent available.
This is a new look side that will for the first time have faces recruited on the basis of Sherwood’s vision.
This in itself inspires me. Whilst Sherwood is media savvy and prone to the butt of a joke or two, he pulled off an absolute miracle keeping Villa in the division last season. When he arrived, we were dead and buried. It took him the entire remainder of the year to haul us over the line.
Armed with a pre-season and new signings, I’m intrigued to see how where he can take us, starting with a banana skin on the south coast.
There are fewer sterner tests than a newly promoted club. These types of games often take on the feel of a local derby & we have been on the receiving end of a similar first game when travelling to newboys Portsmouth a few years ago. That day a packed Fratton Park rocked, Villa capitulated and we left wondering quite how the season would unfold.
Bournemouth are of course managed by Eddie Howe, a quiet, reserved and seemingly very talented young manager. Like many, you cannot help but be impressed by what seems a very calm, thoughtful individual, who has steered Bournemouth to where they are now.
Howe stated yesterday;
“Tim [Sherwood] is an outstanding manager and I think he proved that at the back end of last season.”
“They’ve [Villa] obviously had to sell a lot of players but I think they’ve also invested very wisely.
“We are under no illusions, we are expecting a very difficult first game.”
I think that Villa will need to ride an early frantic period of perhaps 30 minutes as the home side will look to capitalise upon home support and the spotlight. This will require steady heads and could see our new Captain Micah Richards’ having to step up early on and hold the line.
Beyond that, I hope that Villa, now with a number of technically gifted players could look a bit more composed than last year.
With players of the calibre of Veretout & Gueye in the middle & both target/pace in the form of Gestede/Ayew, Villa have a different gear and dimension to now adopt. Additionally, with attack minded fullbacks like Bacuna & Amavi, Villa will create chances. This is not just a chance for Bournemouth to announce themselves, but also a new look Aston Villa.
However, this new style could lead to uur most exposed areas. The flanks will be at risk and with a new central defensive partnership, I expect us to be tested across the 90 minutes.
Score Preciction: Bournemouth 1 (v) (2) Aston Villa.