Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph are gone. The two automatics from Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood's teamsheet aren't available for selection. Neither are regulars Ron Vlaar and Tom Cleverley. Jack Grealish and Jores Okore are hurt.
There's a new feeling around Villa to go with the new-look squad. Actual positivity and belief (not of the Champions League, but safety) coupled with attacking football? It should be a fun campaign. Oh, and we spent money this summer.
Randy Lerner released his iron grip and gave Sherwood a sizeable war chest. Jordan Amavi, Jordan Ayew, Jordan Veretout and Idrissa Gueye were poached from France's Ligue 1. French header-specialist Rudy Gestede made the switch from Blackburn Rovers. Paired with Libor Kozák, Villa could operate with a double-battering ram striker pairing that could devastate teams that are weak in central defence, and take advantage of goalkeepers that stay on their lines.
We finally get to see a competitive match tomorrow after all the friendlies. They've given us some indication of what the starting lineup away at Bournemouth will be, but it's still difficult to be 100 percent sure.
Let's address our opponents briefly. The Premier League newcomers will be eager to please a home crowd, and as winners of England's Championship last year, will have a bit of a swagger and something to prove. Two new signings offer the Cherries trickery and pace out wide. Max Gradel, from St. Etienne, and Christian Atsu, loaned from Chelsea, will be a threat to Villa.
Additionally, striker Callum Wilson and left back Tyrone Mings are a couple of solid players for Eddie Howe's side. Their front three is what worries me most, since Villa's back four isn't fully healthy and haven't really played together yet.
Brad Guzan will be in goal, Jordan Amavi starts on the left, and Ciaran Clark beside him. Micah Richards will be the other centre back, and the question mark is at right back. Alan Hutton, or Leandro Bacuna. Basically it comes down to if Sherwood wants attack or defence. I think he goes with Bacuna, the more attacking option.
Central midfield goes from being a weakness in this team the past few years to one of its greatest strong points. Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Veretout are a great double-pivot, and Ashley Westwood should enjoy more freedom to play passes from deep with this solid pairing in front of him. For some reason I think we may see Joe Cole in there as well.
Up front, Scott Sinclair really should be playing behind the striker. After a terrific preseason where he showed a knack for finding the back of the net, it would be a good choice to deploy Sinclair as a withdrawn forward. But who will his strike partner be?
My money is on Kozák. Finally playing football again, the big Czech had a good preseason as well. That leaves Ayew and Gestede on the bench, along with Agbonlahor.
Projected Aston Villa lineup (4 < 4 > 2): Guzan, Amavi, Clark, Richards, Bacuna; Westwood, Gueye, Veretout, Cole; Sinclair, Kozák.
That's just what I think. Sherwood probably will do something totally different! Who would you choose? Have your say in the comments!
Not a member? Join 7500 to Holte and start commenting | Follow @7500toHolte on Twitter