This weekend sees the return of Premier League Football at Villa Park. It has been three long seasons since Aston Villa played Newcastle United in the final game of the torrid 2015-2016 relegation season. For the past three seasons, Villa have been vying to win promotion back to the Premier League under three different managers and two different sets of owners. Following Villa’s triumph at Wembley at May, it has been a summer of change at Villa Park with heavy recruitment and backing from Villa’s owners. Despite this, Villa went down 3-1 away at Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday but came away with many positives. This weekend Villa will look to build on these positives as they face Bournemouth at Villa Park.
The Home Side
Villa had a strong pre-season beating every single opponent they faced, most impressively a 3-1 win in Leipzig two weeks ago. The season started last week away at Spurs. Villa put in a positive display, leading Spurs for over an hour before eventually succumbing to individual brilliance from Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane, going down 3-1. Many positives were on display for Dean Smith’s side however and Villa will feel confident as they start their home campaign this weekend against Bournemouth.
It has been a summer of change at Villa Park. Following the play-off final win at the end of May, 18 players departed Villa Park, either on free transfers, out on loan to lower league opposition or simply to return to their parent clubs. Either way, Villa were looking at a major team rebuilding job this season, luckily for Villa they were able to rebuild ready for a return to the Premier League. Dean Smith worked alongside Chief Executive, Christian Purslow and Sporting Director, Jesus Garcia Pitarch and managed to bring in 13 players to Villa Park. These were; Frederic Guilbert, Jota, Anwar El-Ghazi, Kortney Hause, Wesley, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, Bjorn Engels, Matt Targett, Trezeguet, Douglas Luiz, Marvelous Nakamba and Tom Heaton. The outlay of these transfers cost Villa upwards of 124m according to Christian Purslow but will be worth their weight in gold should Villa avoid relegation this season. Some have accused the club of using a ‘scattergun’ approach or ‘ Doing a Fulham’ in reference to Fulham’s transfer activity prior to their disastrous relegation season last season however out of the new faces, 5 had already played for Villa or Dean Smith before.
The Away Side
This season marks Bournemouth’s fifth consecutive season in the Premier League. Eddie Howe has built up an impressive reputation of trying to play football the correct way whilst improving Bournemouth year on year. They are now a regular fixture in the Premier League and will be hoping for more progress in season 2019-2020. The summer saw five new signings come into the club with the high profile signings being Arnaut Danjuma, Philip Billing and Lloyd Kelly. Importantly, the club also managed to hold onto key players such as Nathan Ake and Callum Wilson. Bournemouth will be hoping for better fortunes on the road this season after winning just 5 of their games away from the Vitality Stadium. Villa will look at this game and feel it is a game that they need to be winning if they want to have a successful season however Bournemouth will provide stern opposition for Villa and look to play attractive football.
Villa Team News
Villa have injuries to Kortney Hause, James Chester and Jonathan Kodjia meaning they will all miss between 10-12 days. It remains to be seen whether the surprise omissions of Frederic Gilbert and Matt Targett come into the side this weekend. Dean Smith has a squad selection headache in the centre of park with Douglas Luiz and Marvelous Nakamba patiently waiting in the wings.
Squad: Heaton, Steer, Elmohamady, Guilbert, Taylor, Targett, Mings, Engels, Konsa, Trezeguet, Jota, El-Ghazi, Hourihane, McGinn, Grealish, Luiz, Nakamba, Lansbury, Wesley, Davis.
Bournemouth Team News
Bournemouth still have remaining doubts over the injured Cook, Francis, Gosling, Brooks, Kelly, Stanislas and Danjuma.
Squad: Ramsdale, Mepham, Cook, Ake, Smith, Billing, Lerma, Rico, King, Fraser, Wilson, Solanke, Boruc, Surman, Ibe, Daniels, Wilson, Simpson.
Head to Head
The two clubs have only met 7 times throughout history with Villa being the victors on 4 occassions, Bournemouth winning twice and there being one draw. 2015-2016 was the last time these two sides faced each other. Villa running out 1-0 winners at The Vitality on the opening day of the season following Rudy Gestede’s debut goal. Bournemouth winning the reverse fixture at Villa Park 2-1 following Josh King’s winner which all but sent Villa down.
This week we spoke with ‘Back of the Net’- @afcbpodcast to discuss the ins and outs on the game at Villa Park.
- Villa have been away from the Premier League for 3 seasons. What has changed since then and what are your overall thoughts on the Premier League?
It seems that the Premier League loses a ‘big name’ season upon season, and the relegation of Aston Villa certainly didn’t help with regards to making the league look as attractive as it was when Bournemouth joined back in 2015. Nowadays, its a four-tier league, with the top two battling it out, followed by the other four Champions League contenders. Then, you’ve got teams like Leicester, West Ham, Everton, and more recently, Wolves- who could be expected to finish in the top half, but below that- anything goes. Bournemouth have established themselves as a team that can finish relatively comfortable in the top half of the lower half!
2. What are your thoughts on Villa’s business this summer and our chances in the Premier League this season?
It should be an interesting season for Villa because with the financial backing that you’ve got, mixed with some astute signings, not many Premier League fans are thinking that there will be much danger of relegation for your side this year. The signing of Tyrone Mings could prove very valuable in terms of shoring up the defence and, as Bournemouth fans, we will take a huge interest in his performances for Villa.
3. What are your thoughts on Tyrone Mings’ sale to Villa?
From a Bournemouth perspective, to get £20m or more for a defender that has barely featured in the Premier League can be considered good business. Unfortunately, he never really reached his potential with us and there were always other players that would be favoured, sometimes even from the youth set up. However, his loan signing to Villa made sense as he needed to play football and you can see how he’s flourished by getting regular first-team football. Speaking as one of the lads that played with him on the pitch when he inadvertently turned up on a Tuesday night for a six-a-side kick around in Bournemouth, Tyrone really is a top lad, very articulate, and I certainly wish him well with Villa and hope that he can reach his potential with you guys.
4. Who are the danger men in Bournemouth’s side?
Callum Wilson, Josh King and Ryan Fraser. Fraser and Wilson combined so many times last season, so if you have them in your Fantasy League Team, you will be certainly doing alright. Josh King also tends to pop-up with a number of goals when needed. We also have other players who can contribute to goalscoring, but, as Bournemouth fans- we are all looking forward to seeing our loan signing, Harry Wilson, who seems to be a direct replacement for the injured David Brooks- he could prove very useful for us.
5. Who will you see as Villa’s main threats?
From watching the match against Spurs, there is not really one player we are looking at in terms of focusing our attention on, however it has to be said that John McGinn tends to consistently pop up at the right time for Villa, so Eddie Howe will have made his team aware of his threat. I’m sure that, after our draw last weekend, Howe will be looking to make the team more aware of set players given the nature of Sheffield United’s equaliser.
6. What would be a successful season for Bournemouth?
Based on the players we have signed and the optimism around the club, most supporters are looking at a top 10 finish this season as being achievable. Whilst it sounds crazy for a small club like Bournemouth to be looking at a top half finish, the fact that we have managed to keep our key assets including Fraser, Wilson and Ake as well as blending these mainstays with quality such as Billing, Wilson and Danjumar- then we really could have a unique side that could get us up the table.
7. Your score prediction
It should be an interesting game and whilst I think Villa will probably score, I do think that The Cherries’ attacking threat will be too much and we will end up 2-1 victors.
With thanks to ‘Back of the Net’ for answering the questions for this weeks Match Preview. You can find them on @afcbpodcast on Twitter or on YouTube with their channel called ‘ Back of the Net’.
When? Saturday 17th August, 2019. 3pm
Where? Villa Park, Birmingham.
Is the game on television? The game is only broadcasted on overseas TV channels. Live commentary will be available via AVTV and BBC WM DAB in the Birmingham area.
Where can I get tickets? All tickets are now sold out for this game.