With a successful offseason on the books, Aston Villa travel south to tackle the Cherries in the 2022-2023 season opener. Bournemouth had spent two seasons in the EFL Championship prior to gaining automatic promotion and key players to watch out for include Dominic Solanke at striker, and Phillip Billing along with Ryan Christie in midfield. While the team may not set the league on fire this season, the atmosphere at the Vitality stadium Saturday promises to be electric.
For Villa this season, some questions hang over from last season while recruitment over the summer has added a few new ones. In goal, Emi Martinez will once again grace the net, with Lucas Digne gracing his left and Matty Cash patrolling on the right. The center-back partnership is where Steven Gerrard could go a number of different directions after the change in captaincy from Tyrone Mings to John McGinn. For the sake of continuity, I’d have Mings partnering with new signing Diego Carlos.
In the midfield, John McGinn and Boubacar Kamara are as close to locks to start as you’re going to get, leaving the third spot open to Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey, or Marvelous Nakamba should Gerrard try a 4-2-3-1 setup (I’d like to see it, but with Kamara and Luiz in defense with McGinn in the number 10 position). Realistically, it’s between Luiz and Ramsey and my presumption is that Luiz starts, but my preference would be to see Ramsey get the nod. The third bit of intrigue with the lineup centers around the striker(s), with the option of playing two of Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings, and Cameron Archer, or playing one with Leon Bailey on the right wing and one of the prior at striker. A two striker scenario would see Philippe Coutinho at 10. In any event, Coutinho will start, likely on the left, with Ollie Watkins at striker and Bailey on his right.
PREDICTION: Without having too much to go on, this feels like it should be a comfortable Villa win on paper. A solid 2-1 win to start the season should be in order.