Not a lot of rest early on for the boys. with West Ham at home on the 14th, Rapid Wien away on the 19th, Newcastle away on the 22nd, the second leg against Wien at home on the 26th and home against Everton on the 29th. It will be interesting to see how MON approaches the tie this time around; many supporters are hoping for a more serious effort this year than last, but will they abide the risk of a poor domestic start as a trade-off? I'm guessing we won't be finding out, and to be fair a less than optimal Villa side should still be able to secure a berth into the group stage.
Rapid Wien finished last season third in the Austrian Bundesliga and finished bottom of their group in the Europa League. They're a decent side, but they're a side Villa should beat. Luckily Villa's first two league matches are against teams that should not require full-strength lineups to secure a result should MON choose to go down that road. If nothing else, we should see whether MON is a bit more willing to go to a rotation rather early on in the going.