We’re all going on a
European American tour!
Unai Emery’s Aston Villa kick off a three-game series of games against Premier League rivals this weekend as their pre-season work kicks into high gear in the United States.
Villa’s PL Summer Series fixtures
- Saturday, July 23 vs. Newcastle at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, 7 p.m. ET kickoff
- Wednesday, July 26 vs. Fulham at Exploria Stadium, Orlando, 7 p.m. ET kickoff
- Sunday, July 30 vs. Brentford at FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland, 12 p.m. ET kickoff
Those three games will feature a mixture of last season’s first-teamers, new signings, and promising young talents, all of whom will be looking to impress Emery and his staff ahead of the Spaniard’s first full season in charge.
In case you need a refresher, here is the full Villa squad for the PL Summer Series.
There’s plenty of intrigue within the group, from new arrivals Pau Torres and Youri Tielemans to fit-again Diego Carlos, the forgotten men of Philippe Coutinho and Morgan Sanson, and many more.
But who are the 7500 to Holte team most looking forward to seeing? We asked some of them to find out.
Phil Vogel (@PBVogel)
No one on the team will push to have a better preseason than Ollie Watkins. He crushed it for most of the second half of last season and deserves all the praise he got. He backed Villa’s move to leave him as the only real first-team striker, and that’s a situation that he is still currently in. Cameron Archer isn’t there yet but he will be pushing for the second spot this summer.
Yet Watkins still missed the England call-up, still doesn’t get top attention or name recognition, and still doesn’t have a new contract. Five quality opponents in preseason, five chances to change things. I, along with most of the supporters, will be happy to see him succeed... but maybe not get too much attention and recognition outside of the Villa world.
Simon O’Regan (@SiORegan)
It’s probably an obvious thing to say but for me, this pre-season trip to America is a huge opportunity for Cameron Archer to really stake a claim. Every Villa fan wants to see him get a real crack at it this season. His goalscoring record in his last two loan stints in the Championship speaks for itself, but his overall performances for Middlesborough last season were very impressive. A quick search among Boro fans on social media shows just how highly thought of Archer is up there. He has also scored goals regularly for the England U21s, including two during their successful Euros campaign earlier in the summer.
It’s no secret that Villa want and need to add to the squad in the forward positions, but we may be able to save ourselves a fortune if Archer can show Emery he is capable of playing a major role.
On a different note, it was interesting to see Morgan Sanson’s name among the group. It’s fair to say it’s not really gone to plan at Villa for Sanson and one would assume he’s likely to be moved on this summer. However, his inclusion in the US squad is an opportunity for him to show he could still have a future here. I personally think there’s a really good player there who has shown all too infrequently little flashes of ability, so it will be interesting to see what game time he gets and how he performs.
Tom Nightingale (@tdnightingale)
Two of the players I’m most looking forward to seeing get some pitch time are two who were bright-burning stars in the Championship last season. It seems everyone is desperate to find out what lethal bowman Archer can do against Premier League opposition, even in friendly competition, and you can certainly count me among that group. He’s ready, isn’t he? Simon’s already made the case well. You have to feel like he gets his chance in the early months of the season. He’s a raw, uncut diamond, and Unai is the master lapidary.
But it’s another re-integrated loanee I’m most fascinated to see do his stuff in a Villa shirt in the States and that’s Aaron Ramsey. Jacob’s younger brother’s burgeoning star has been rising steadily for a couple of years now and his breakout season in the second tier with first Norwich City and then Middlesbrough has only added to the aura around him. Eight goals and four assists in 29 Championship games, despite starting just 21 of those? It ain’t half bad for a 20-year-old midfielder. The romantic idea of the Ramsey brothers starring in Villa’s first team appeals to us all, and I’m hoping to see Aaron get a decent number of minutes to showcase his development in the US over the next 10 days.
A third bright star for Villa in the Championship in 2022-23 was Jaden Philogene, but I’ll let Aidan make that particular case...
Aidan Mifsud (@aidanmsa)
All the players in the squad for the US tour must be keen to impress ahead of Emery’s first season. Matty Cash, does he need competition? Is Lucas Digne a luxury back-up for Álex Moreno? Will Emi Buendía step up to be the consistent superstar we expected him to be? What about Coutinho?
But the player who stands out to me is Jaden Philogene. After a stellar loan season at Cardiff City, the 21-year-old is reportedly receiving interest from clubs across Europe. Voted Cardiff’s young player of the season, he was the very bright spark in a struggling team. When Sabri Lamouchi took over managing Cardiff in January he made Philogene a regular starter, and played him as an out-and-out winger (on either side), a central attacking midfielder, and a wing-back. Lamouchi had particular praise for his defensive capabilities.
Philogene is an exciting ball carrier, a dribbler known to draw lots of fouls. Does that sound familiar? He is the kind of player who brought fans to their feet at Cardiff. Could he do it at Villa Park? He will be determined to grasp any opportunity handed to him in the US to showcase his skills. Hopefully, his development will be for Villa’s benefit. But if he gets a tempting offer from another club, I, for one, will wish him all the best. His time has come.
Villa’s Premier League Summer Series games can be watched in the US on Peacock, NBC, and USA Network; in Canada via FuboTV; and in the UK on Sky Sports.