For anyone foolish enough to follow the Spurs-related transfer window rumour mill the last few weeks has been a special kind of hell so it was fitting that yesterday, one of the most purgatorial days I can remember was centred around a Dyabla. Juventus’s treatment of one of their stars sounds like it has been scandalous, first forcing him out and then refusing to let him go. Maybe. It’s very difficult to tell from the outside what happened but the on and off and then off and on reports were excruciating to follow. And image rights were the showstopper. WTF?
It’s over though, thank goodness.
Aston Villa come to the new WHL tomorrow for the late afternoon kick-off. This is of course the first time we’ve started a season at home since drawing 0-0 with Man City in 2010 and the first season we’ll have a complete set of home fixtures since 16/17. The back bone of that marvellous side is still at the club, for the moment, and most but not all, will feature against Villa. Son is suspended, Dele is injured along with Davies (In addition, Foyth has doubled down, he’s both injured and suspended. Nice work even by his accident-prone standards, and I think Sessegnon & Aurier are both still injured, though I may be wrong.)
It’s probably safe to say that NDombele is the only new signing who will feature from the start. Lo Celso may be on the bench, or Poch will have him in a gym somewhere putting in the miles he’s missed compared to the rest of the squad. The absence of the players mentioned above mean that the side mostly picks itself, except that we don’t know what is going on with Eriksen. If he’s got his mind on a move and the staff know it, he won’t play. If he’s shown that he’s happy to stay for another season before picking and choosing his club next summer, that’s a different ball game and may be to our advantage if he considers himself in the shop window all season.
So, it’ll be…
Hugo, KWP, Toby, Jan, Rose, Winks, NDombele, Kane, Lucas and two of Lamela, Eriksen and Sissoko. There’s not a whole lot on the bench but if you will get suspended, injured and signed too late what do you expect? We should see some youngsters peering up and over the camber, I think everyone would be thrilled to see Parrott given a chance at some point even if it’s not this game.
What system we’ll play has been the subject of much speculation. The introduction of Lo Celso and NDombele may see a move away from the diamond and a return to the highest of high presses which should be fun, especially given the new goal-kick laws.
Villa have been one of the biggest spenders of the transfer window but they had to be given that the number of loan players they had last year. The general opinion is that they’ve spent wisely but who knows until they’re bedded in and the season is well underway. They have talent in midfield in Grealish and McGinn and Premier League experience at the back with Heaton, Mings and Targett but elsewhere, it’s a bit of a mystery how Wesley, Jota, Engels, Trezeguet or El Ghazi will fare. Time will tell.
It’s hard not to feel optimistic about both this game and the season in general, especially once the new players get up to speed. If Kane & Dele return to their best form and we can avoid the injuries we suffered last season, we should have an excellent campaign. A good start is vital though and we should have enough to get one against Villa.
Chris Kavanagh is the man in the middle trying to avoid using VAR too often.
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