Aston Villa are back in the big time and host Bournemouth on Saturday in their first Premier League game at Villa Park since May 2016.
Dean Smith’s side looked on the verge of pulling off a remarkable 1-0 win away to Tottenham Hotspur in their Premier League return match, but succumbed to three late goals from Mauricio Pochettino’s side. Still, they can hold their heads high after a promising performance.
Bournemouth, meanwhile, got their season off to a stuttering start, throwing away a 1-0 lead in the 88th minute against newly-promoted Sheffield United, but Eddie Howe’s side will be no easy proposition for the Villans.
When is Aston Villa v Bournemouth and where can I watch live?
Competition: Premier League
Venue: Villa Park
Date: Saturday, August 17
Kick-off: 3 PM BST
TV coverage (UK): N/A
Last five meetings: Aston Villa v Bournemouth
09 April 2016: Aston Villa 1-2 Bournemouth
08 August 2015: Bournemouth 0-1 Aston Villa
25 January 2015: Aston Villa 2-1 Bournemouth (FA Cup)
05 March 1988: Bournemouth 1-2 Aston Villa
17 October 1987: Aston Villa 1-1 Bournemouth
Aggregate score: Aston Villa (LWWWD) 7-5 Bournemouth (WLLLD)
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Ones to watch
Aston Villa: Wesley Moraes
Villa made a tonne of signings over the summer but one of their most important has to be Wesley Moraes. The Brazilian comes in as a replacement for Tammy Abraham but is a totally different player than the England international, basing his game more around dropping deep to link play a la Roberto Firmino. He cut an isolated figure at times against Spurs last week but how he adjusts and creates space for Villa’s flying wingers, such as Anwar El-Ghazi and Trezeguet, will be key to their survival.
Key stat: Wesley was directly involved in 27 goals for Club Brugge across all competitions last season.
Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser
Putting it bluntly, Ryan Fraser was superb last season. The Scotland international ranked second in the Premier League for assists (14) behind only Eden Hazard (15) and was a thorn in the side of almost every defence he came across. He and his Bournemouth teammates didn’t get off to the greatest of starts against Sheffield United, drawing 1-1 with Fraser creating just one chance against the Blades, but when he hits his stride, the Cherries will be another proposition altogether.
Key stat: Only Hazard (98) and James Maddison (100) created more chances in the Premier League than Fraser (93) last season.
James Chester, who picked up a hamstring injury during pre-season, is joined on the sidelines by Jonathan Kodjia and Kortney Hause, but, otherwise, Smith looks to have a full squad to pick from.
Aston Villa Predicted XI: Heaton; Elmohamady, Engels, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Hourihane, Grealish; El Ghazi, Wesley, Trezeguet.
Eddie Howe has much bigger injury concerns on his hands, with no fewer than six first-team players sidelined for this Saturday’s game. They include last season’s Junior Cherries Player of the Year David Brooks, along with Lewis Cook, Simon Francis, Lloyd Kelly, Junior Stanislas and Dan Gosling. Summer signing Arnaut Danjuma is also nursing a foot injury and looks set to miss a second game of the season.
Bournemouth Predicted XI: Ramsdale; Smith, Mepham, Cook, Ake, Rico; Billing, Lerma; King, Wilson, Fraser.
Despite losing 3-1, Villa will be full of confidence after their display against Spurs last week and will be roared on by a packed-out Villa Park for their Premier League return. This may prove too much for a Bournemouth side who are still finding their stride and suffering from a mini-injury crisis.
Aston Villa 2-1 Bournemouth