The new Premier League season will see the return of a couple of familiar faces to the top flight of English football.
One of them are Watford, who racked up 91 points in the Championship last season to return to the top flight after only a year’s absence, as they will try and stay afloat.
The Hornets will kick off their new campaign as they welcome Aston Villa to Vicarage Road in the first gameweek of the new Premier League season – a team who will look to cope with the departure of their best player, and move on with their exciting acquisitions newly purchased this summer.
The Villans who failed in their pursuit of European football last season will have a new look to them this season. After losing the talismanic Jack Grealish to Manchester City, but that has not stopped them from adding able reinforcements to the squad.
Villa have added the likes of Emiliano Buendia from Norwich City who can prove to be one of the best creators in the league, one of the brightest young talents in the Bundesliga in Leon Bailey, as well as a proven goal-scorer in the Premier League in Danny Ings from Southampton. Dean Smith’s side will look to better their eleventh-place finish last season, and Vicarage Road seems like a good place to start.
While for their hosts, Xisco Munoz could have barely scripted the last six months any better – as his ascension to the helm in December last year was the main catalyst to a second-place finish for the Hornets in the Championship last season. Watford defeated eventual winners Norwich City in a Boxing Day fixture, in a match that proved to be the turning point of their season.
Building on their success, the Hornets have roped in an array of talent such as the likes of Imran Louza, Joshua King, Emmanuel Dennis, and Juraj Kucka in their bid to become an established Premier League side.
Watford and Aston Villa have never previously met in the first gameweek of a season, and it is the Hornets who hold the upper hand going into this fixture – having emerged winners in both of the last two games against Villa at Vicarage Road.
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistant Referees: Darren Cann
Video Assistant Referee: Peter Banks, Stuart Burt
Fourth Official: Mark Scholes
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Vicarage Road
Date: 13th August 2021
Time: Kick-off at 15:00 HRS BST
The Hornets will kick off the new Premier League season with very few injury concerns. Domingos Quina is unlikely to be ready for action just yet, while Will Hughes has been sent to train with the U23s amidst a tense contract situation.
Juraj Kucka played his first match for the club in a friendly defeat to Crystal Palace in pre-season, and he should be in contention for a start in midfield along with Imran Louza, Peter Etebo, and Tom Cleverley – while the veteran centre-forward and skipper Troy Deeney will fight for his position with Cucho Hernandez up front.
As for the visitors, Danny Ings is likely to start upfront in the absence of Ollie Watkins who is currently nursing a bruised knee. His fellow new signings Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendía are unlikely to start – Bailey is observing self-isolation while Buendía has had a hip problem of late.
Morgan Sanson and Douglas Luiz are also expected to miss the opening day, and Villa’s lack of attacking options might culminate in a start for former Hornet Ashley Young who has returned to Villa.
Aston Villa’s lack of available attackers will stifle them upfront, as Watford – fresh off a very successful season in the second tier – will hope to cause an upset and kick off their bid to retain Premier League status this season.
But it will not be easy, as Dean Smith’s side will have enough firepower to trouble the hosts – making the duels in midfield a key battle that is likely to determine the final outcome of the match.
It will be interesting to see how well Villa’s new signings gel with each other, and what formation Dean Smith decides to play against Watford who have a brilliant track record at home – having won all of their last nine competitive games at Vicarage Road.
It promises to be an exciting encounter indeed, and the involvement of prolific strikers such as Troy Deeney and Danny Ings means that it is likely to be goals galore.
Troy Deeney (Watford):
Troy Deeney has grown to be synonymous with Watford over the years. The veteran forward is only three goals short of reaching fifty goals in the Premier League and is widely regarded as a talismanic figure for the Hornets in their recent years up in the English top flight. Expect Deeney to make a mark in the opening fixture with his well known knack to score big goals for Watford.
Danny Ings (Aston Villa):
Danny Ings has proven his mettle as one of the most prolific strikers in the league. The English forward has scored 34 goals in the Premier League in his last couple of seasons at Southampton, being the Saints’ talisman as well as their chief attacking outlet upfront. Ings made a £25m switch to Villa to contend for Europe, and he will be looking to make his mark on his debut.
Watford: Bachmann; Femenia, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Rose; Etebo, Cleverley, Louza; Sarr, Hernandez, Dennis.
Aston Villa: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba; Buendia, J. Ramsey, Young; Ings.