Aston Villa begin their Premier League season on Saturday afternoon with a trip to Hertfordshire as they face Watford at Vicarage Road.
Dean Smith’s side enjoyed a fine campaign last term, finishing just outside of the top ten, and have made some significant improvements to their squad over the summer transfer window.
A few of their new signings will be in line to feature, whether from the start or off the bench, and the Villa manager will have some tough calls to make for his side’s curtain raiser.
Below is a look at how Villa might line up when they face Watford today.
In goal, Emi Martinez will be hoping to enjoy another fine campaign in between the sticks after finishing last season in the Premier League with an impressive 15 clean sheets, enough to rank him third in the entire division.
The preferred back four of 2020/21 should also remain the same, with Matt Targett and Matty Cash occupying the two full-back positions and Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa resuming their centre-back partnership.
The big call Smith will need to make surrounds Ollie Watkins, with the Villa manager revealing that there is a doubt over his striker’s fitness. He said: “Ollie Watkins had a bang on his knee. He’s got some bone bruising so we’ll see if he’s pain-free today. If he is he’ll train and be available for tomorrow.”
If Watkins does indeed pass his late fitness check, then Smith may opt to go for the 4-4-2 that we’ve seen during pre-season, with Danny Ings partnering him up top for his first appearance for the club.
Ashley Young could make his second debut for Villa after his summer move, with the veteran’s experience and presence something which might be very helpful in what is likely to be a raucous Vicarage Road.
Predicted XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Buendia, Nakamba, McGinn, Young; Ings, Watkins.
Meanwhile, this Villa star could now leave…