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First Team

Media View: Expert insight on Aston Villa


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth kick-off their Premier League campaign against Aston Villa on Saturday in a repeat of the Cherries’ first top-flight encounter (3pm).

Rudy Gestede’s second-half goal earned the Midlanders a 1-0 victory at Vitality Stadium in August 2015, with Leicester going on to win the title.

Under the stewardship of former Liverpool and England star Steven Gerrard, the Villans have enjoyed an excellent pre-season which took in a trip to Australia.

They lifted the Queensland Champions’ Cup after registering 1-0 wins against Premier League rivals Leeds United and Australian A-League outfit Brisbane Roar.

Goals from Leon Bailey and Calum Chambers saw them come from 2-0 down to force a 2-2 draw against Manchester United in their final game of the tour in Perth.

Villa, who started with a 4-0 win at Walsall, completed their games programme by extending their unbeaten record to five games after beating French club Stade Rennais 2-1 on 30th July.

Ahead of tomorrow's clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with Gregg Evans who covers the fortunes of the Villans for The Athletic.


Founded: 1874

Ground: Villa Park

Nickname: The Villans

Record appearances: Charlie Aitken – 660 games (1961-1975)

Record goalscorer: Billy Walker – 244 goals in 531 games

Head coach: Steven Gerrard (appointed November 2021)

Club captain: John McGinn (pictured below)

Last season’s finishing position in Premier League: 14th

Leading goalscorer 2021/22: Ollie Watkins (11 in Premier League)

Last game: Stade Rennais 1-2 Aston Villa (pre-season friendly)

afcb.co.ukHow did pre-season go for Villa?

GE: As close to perfect as you can get.

Each friendly gave the team a different test and they came through them all unscathed.

A five-game unbeaten run has helped build confidence and momentum.

The tour to Australia also helped the club grow their fanbase and move into new markets.

afcb.co.ukWhich player caught your eye during pre-season?

GE: A couple actually.

Leon Bailey is the obvious answer. He's finally found some form.

But young Kaine Kesler-Hayden (pictured below), a back-up right-back who will probably go out on loan, is starting to look the part.

This time next year he might be ready to compete for a place in the first-team squad.

afcb.co.ukHow is the transfer window going for Villa?

GE: Very well so far, even if the last few weeks have been quiet.

Villa got their business done very early, turning Robin Olsen and Philippe Coutinho’s loan moves into permanent ones.

They then filled a gap in defensive midfield by signing Boubacar Kamara before signing Diego Carlos for a cut-price £28 million and adding Ludwig Augustinsson as a back-up left-back on loan.

The aim now is to move fringe players on before possibly adding another attacker before the end of the window.

afcb.co.ukGive us a word on former Cherries star Danny Ings (pictured above)?

GE: Poised.

afcb.co.ukWhat are your thoughts on John McGinn replacing Tyrone Mings as captain?

GE: Initially a little surprised, although Steven Gerrard had been hinting at making a change for some time.

If Mings keeps his place in the starting XI – and I think he deserves to – his approach won’t change. He’ll still be a vocal leader for Villa.

Perhaps the captaincy will help McGinn flourish and take his game to a new level with the added responsibility. It certainly worked for Jack Grealish.

afcb.co.ukLeon Bailey (pictured above) has had an excellent pre-season – would he be in your starting line-up if you were Steven Gerrard?

GE: Yes. He finally looks fit and sharp.

Last season was a write-off as he scored just one goal and missed a large chunk of the campaign through injury.

He’s worked hard this summer and is now raring to go.

afcb.co.ukAre any other key players either injured or suspended against the Cherries?

GE: No new injury concerns.

afcb.co.ukWhich Villa player would you recommend for FPL?

GE: Matty Cash (pictured above); goals, assists and clean sheets.

afcb.co.ukHow do you see the game panning out and what’s your score prediction?

GE: I think it will be a comfortable victory for Villa. I think Bournemouth need to strengthen to be competitive and Villa are playing them at a good time.

You can follow Greg on Twitter – @greggevans40

Officials: Peter Bankes (referee), Edward Smart (assistant), Nick Greenhalgh (assistant), James Linington (fourth official), Michael Salisbury (VAR).


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