With the end of a vastly exciting and heated preseason, the competitive matches take centre stage as Premier League gameweek one sees newly promoted AFC Bournemouth face Aston Villa, a club with a disappointing last season. It will be an interesting match, with the Cherries anxious to cement their stay in the Premier League and Aston Villa hoping for a higher finish this time around. Bournemouth had quite a miserable preseason, with one win and 3 losses as compared to Aston Villa with two wins and one draw versus Manchester United. It is largely how the game will be expected to go, bar a few surprises.
Aston Villa have an exciting squad and despite the loss of Grealish just last season have improved their team considerably. Steven Gerrard has been quick to stamp his authority at Aston Villa which is evidenced from the brand of football played by them. Having garnered valuable experience in the Scottish Premiership and taking one season to adapt to the Premier League, expectations are high from the former Liverpool captain.
It remains to see if Scott Parker has the requisite skill set to counter Villa who themselves have had a great last season albeit in the Championship. With 74 goals scored and 39 allowed, they were the league’s second highest goalscorers while conceding the least, a true testament of their ability. However, they have always flirted with relegation and find it difficult to stake their claim among England’s elite which is expected to be the case this time too.
Where and When?
Venue: Vitality Stadium.
Date: Saturday, 6th August 2022.
Time: 12:30 BST.
Referee: Peter Bankes.
Assistants: Eddie Smart, Nick Greenhalgh.
Fourth official: James Linington.
VAR: Michael Salisbury.
Assistant VAR: Constantine Hatzidakis.
Bournemouth haven’t had the best of luck in the transfer market, with their two signings, Joe Rothwell and Ryan Fredricks expected to sit out the first match due to a few fitness concerns. David Brooks will be managed carefully although he revealed that he is cancer free. Parker who expressed his desire to line up with a back three has only three senior center-backs, again owing to the inactivity in the transfer market. Lerma and Solanke will be key for Bournemouth if they are to mount a challenge versus Villa.
Aston Villa on the other hand, following a strong preseason, have a squad that is up and running with Kortney Hause being the only one sidelined due to an operation on his knee. The first game could also see Diego Carlos’ first competitive game for the Clarets. Their team boasts several strong players with Coutinho and Bailey undoubtedly being their key personnel.
The game should be fairly easy for Aston Villa with winger Leon Bailey having a great preseason match versus Manchester United and his attack partners Coutinho and Watkins both capable of wreaking havoc with the former’s creative and the latter’s goalscoring instinct. It will take a lot for the defensive trio of Mepham, James Hill and Lloyd Kelly to quieten this attack, with all these three being relatively inexperienced.
If previous matches are anything to go by, Aston Villa would be hoping to spend a lot of time on the ball while AFC Bournemouth will attempt to keep them at arm’s length and play of any lapses of concentration by the away side. Bournemouth will find it difficult to play through Villa’s press and will try to play long balls and more direct passes forward towards either side of Villa’s defence and the physical dominance of Bournemouth’s attackers will prove advantageous. Gerrard on the other hand will try to play silky possession based football with the great dribblers he has supported by a resilient midfield and a strong attack. If Villa shows no complacency and plays in a focused manner, there is no way for Bournemouth to get into the game. Villa will press high up on the pitch, hoping to catch Bournemouth attackers offside when long balls are played in and will ask his wingers to come deep, ask for the ball and create the play.
The defensive midfielder has been a mainstay for the Cherries with contribution in defence and attack. Averaging 80% tackles and 81% pass accuracy is no mean feat for the particularly aggressive Championship. Coupled with 3 assists and 1 goal, Lerma had a decent contribution although not being his primary responsibility. In the Premier League, the season before that he had 2 goals and boasted an 83% tackle rate. His defensive contribution will undoubtedly come in handy in the league this season and at 27 years he is in his prime
Solanke, Bournemouth’s striker had a great last season, finishing the league with 29 goals and 7 assists. In the season before that he had 15 goals and 8 assists. While the Premier League is a completely different beast, Solanke will definitely be beaming with confidence and will look to transform this form after failing to make the cut at Liverpool
After arriving from Barcelona, the Brazilian seems to have discovered his Liverpool form and had 5 goals and 3 assists while creating 25 chances. He silky dribbler, and skilful on the ball, Coutinho will prove to be pivotal for Aston Villa this season. He salvaged the match versus Manchester United last season and was a bright spark in Villa’s somewhat inconsistent campaign. Steven Gerrard knows Coutinho and will know the advantages of unlocking his ability to its maximum.
Leon Bailey was a widely sought after winger from his German days and the fact that Villa signed him was a massive statement of intent. His preseason performance versus Manchester United was eye-catching and everyone knows what the Jamaican is capable of. He did not have the best of seasons previously, with 1 goal and 2 assists but with proper mentoring, he definitely has the potential to stake his name as one of the league’s elite. Back in Germany, he had 9 goals and 8 assists and was one of their best players.
Bournemouth predicted lineup vs Aston Villa: Travers; Mepham, Hill, Kelly; Smith, Cook, Lerma, Tavernier; Christie, Solanke, Anthony.
Aston Villa predicted lineup vs Bournemouth: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Carlos, Digne; McGinn, Kamara, Ramsey; Bailey, Watkins, Coutinho.