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Martinez debut, Watkins starts: Predicted Aston Villa XI vs Sheffield United

Aston Villa finally begin their 20/21 Premier League campaign later this evening as they welcome Sheffield United to the Midlands.

With Dean Smith’s side being granted a week off, they played their first competitive match in the EFL Cup, defeating Burton Albion 3-1 to advance into the third round and whilst some starters featured, it was largely fringe players involved.

What is your prediction for Villa vs the Blades?

Villa win!

Villa win!

Draw...

Draw...

Blades win!

Blades win!

So, how will Villa’s XI look for their PL opener? Here’s what we are predicting…

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Smith could make as many as eight changes as he looks to field his strongest possible lineup, which means there’s a debut for Emi Martinez between the sticks.

New right-back Matty Cash is also handed his first Villa bow with Matt Targett, Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa making up the numbers in defence.

Newly called-up Brazillian Douglas Luiz may be preferred to the £11m-rated Marvelous Nakamba, who started on Tuesday night whilst John McGinn could be paired with Conor Hourihane slightly further up the pitch.

Skipper Jack Grealish continues at left-wing with Trezeguet occupying the other side, meaning new £19m signing Bertrand Traore will have to wait for his opportunity having only joined at the end of last week.

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Ollie Watkins got off the mark against the Brewers and will surely be the man to lead the line for Smith this campaign. He’ll get the start over Mbwana Sammatta, who has been linked with an exit from the club in recent weeks.

It means there are no places for the likes of Kourtney Hause, Ahmed Elmohamady, Anwar El Ghazi or Neil Taylor after featuring in midweek. They will likely be named on the bench for this tie against the Blades.

Chris Wilder’s side lost their opening match last week to local rivals Wolves.

AND in other news, Aston Villa one of several PL teams chasing in-demand £20m sensation…

Article title: Martinez debut, Watkins starts: Predicted Aston Villa XI vs Sheffield United

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