Watford vs Aston Villa: Predictions, Preview, Team News, Betting Tips and Odds
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Aston Villa kick off their Premier League campaign with an important fixture this weekend as they take on Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Aston Villa have made a few changes to their squad this season and have a point to prove this year.
Watford secured automatic promotion with a second-place finish in the Championship last season. The Hornets will be intent on staying in the top flight this year and will need to be at their best to ensure their survival in the Premier League.
Aston Villa have lost Jack Grealish to reigning champions Manchester City and have made a few additions to the squad. The away side can pack a punch on its day and could potentially aim to secure European qualification this season.
Date, Time and Venue
Watford is going head to head with Aston Villa starting on 14 Aug 2021 at 14:00 UTC at Vicarage Road stadium, Watford city, England. The match is a part of the Premier League.
Watford vs Aston Villa Head-to-Head
Aston Villa and Watford are on an even footing as far as their Premier League head-to-head record is concerned and have won eight games apiece out of a total of 21 matches played between the two teams.
The previous meeting between the two teams took place last year and ended in a 2-1 victory for Aston Villa. Watford have improved over the past year and have a point to prove this weekend.
Watford form guide: L-D-D-L-W
Aston Villa form guide: W-W-L-W-W
|Photo: Getty Images|
Xisco Munoz could hardly have envisaged the dream start to life he has enjoyed in the Vicarage Road dugout, with his opening game - a Boxing Day success over eventual winners Norwich City - setting his side up for a magical six months in the Championship.
There were a few blips along the way - namely defeats to Luton Town and Brentford, as well as dropping two points at Middlesbrough - but Xisco steered Watford back into the top flight at the first time of asking following their devastating relegation in the 2019-20 season.
An array of talented players in Imran Louza, Joshua King, Emmanuel Dennis and Juraj Kucka have arrived at Vicarage Road as Watford bid to become an established Premier League outfit, but recent pre-season results have not led to a greater sense of optimism.
The Hornets saw off Millwall, Doncaster Rovers and Colchester United twice in pre-season but fell to defeat against three Premier League outfits in Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Brentford, as well as being held to a goalless draw by West Bromwich Albion.
However, as the Premier League prepares to open its doors to capacity crowds once more, Watford will aim to build on a stellar run of form which saw them win each of their last nine home games in last season's Championship, scoring 22 goals and conceding a mere two in that hot streak.
As ambitious as Aston Villa's owners are, the signings of Emiliano Buendia, Danny Ings and Leon Bailey hinted that the club were preparing for the inevitable departure of Jack Grealish, who now holds the accolade of being the most expensive British player in history.
Explained in great detail by Aston Villa CEO Christian Purslow on social media, Manchester City triggered the £100m release clause in Grealish's contract - one which he only signed last year - but Villa's swift movements in the transfer market have demonstrated their desire to push for Europe without their now-departed talisman.
Grealish's absence through injury was heavily felt for an Aston Villa side seeking a top-seven finish last season, as a dismal record of four wins from their last 14 games saw them languish to an 11th-placed finish after they were hovering around the European places at Christmas time.
The Villans have not faced any true tests of their mettle in pre-season - although a 2-0 defeat to Stoke City did raise some question marks - as Walsall, Crewe Alexandra, Bristol City and Italian outfit Salernitana all succumbed to defeats against Smith's men, with new arrival Ings netting against the latter.
Watford and Villa have never met on the opening day of the season before, and the last two meetings at Vicarage Road have seen the Hornets run out 3-2 and 3-0 winners, although Villa won 2-1 in the most recent encounter back in January 2020.
Watford vs Aston Villa Team News
Joao Pedro, Joshua King, and Nathaniel Chalobah are injured at the moment and have been ruled out of this game. Adam Masina and Domingos Quina are also carrying knocks and might not be able to feature this weekend.
Injured: Joao Pedro, Joshua King, Nathaniel Chalobah
Doubtful: Adam Masina, Domingos Quina
Unavailable: Will Hughes
Leon Bailey and Douglas Luiz have not trained with the squad this week and are unavailable for selection. Morgan Sanson and Emiliano Buendia have issues with their fitness and are unlikely to be risked against Watford.
Doubtful: Emiliano Buendia, Morgan Sanson
Unavailable: Leon Bailey, Douglas Luiz
Watford vs Aston Villa Predicted XI
Watford Predicted XI (4-3-3): Daniel Bachmann; Danny Rose, William Troost-Ekong, Francisco Sierralta, Kiko Femenia; Tom Cleverley, Peter Etebo, Imran Louza; Emmanuel Dennis, Ismaila Sarr, Cucho Hernandez
Aston Villa Predicted XI (4-4-2): Emiliano Martinez; Matt Targett, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Matthew Cash; Marvelous Nakamba, John McGinn, Ashley Young, Jaden Philogene-Bidace; Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings
The Hornets were relegated to the Championship at the end of the 2019/20 season but bounced back immediately by finishing second, four points clear of third-placed Brentford. Halfway through that campaign, Xisco Munoz was brought in to replace Vladimir Ivic, and the Spaniard remains, planning for his first Premier League season. Watford have been busy in the transfer window, making 12 new signings in total including midfielder Juraj Kucka and left-back Danny Rose, without getting rid of any big names from their squad. The Hornets have also had a packed pre-season, playing nine games in total, although they did suffer defeats to Premier League sides Arsenal and Crystal Palace.
Aston Villa have also been busy in the transfer market, making big improvements to their squad and perfectly dealing with Jack Grealish’s departure. Dean Smith’s side have used that £100m nicely, signing the likes of Emiliano Buendia, Danny Ings and Leon Bailey to try and build on their 11th-placed finish last season. In pre-season, Villa were almost perfect, winning four of their five games, only losing to Stoke early on, but the start of the new Premier League campaign will be their true test.
We say: Watford 2-2 Aston Villa
No Grealish, no problem for Villa
It only seemed like a matter of time before Grealish’s move to City was confirmed and, with that now completed, Villa need to focus on life without their former captain.
The England midfielder’s exit has left a big gap to fill, but the Villans have been spending the money wisely and the arrivals of Emiliano Buendia and Leon Bailey are exciting moves.
Both are creative players with bags of quality – midfielder Buendia was crucial in Norwich City's Championship-winning campaign last season while winger Bailey impressed at Bayer Leverkusen.
Villa’s away form picked up towards the end of last season, as they recorded victories at Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, and they look like good value to start their 2021-22 campaign with three points.
Watford will be no pushovers, though, and their record at Vicarage Road is superb, having won their last nine competitive matches there, but the Premier League is a different beast to the Championship and it could be a slow start for the hosts.
Life without Grealish will be different for Villa, but there is talent in the squad and the future looks bright for Dean Smith’s men, who only survived relegation on the final day of the 2019-20 season but finished 11th last term and will believe they can improve on that.
Tip: Aston Villa to win @ 5/4 with Paddy Power
Busy afternoon for keepers
Villa already had goals in their side with Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore, who scored 14 and seven league goals respectively last season, and the arrivals of Bailey and Buendia will strengthen this area.
Jamaica winger Bailey netted nine times in the Bundesliga last term, while Buendia scored 15 goals for the Canaries, and there is plenty of other attacking talent for Smith to choose from.
There were over 2.5 goals in 22 of Villa’s 38 league games last season, and there is every chance this will happen again on Saturday against a Watford side who also showed their attacking prowess.
The Hornets scored 63 times in the Championship last term, the sixth-highest tally in the division, and they should be able to get on the scoresheet in front of their own supporters.
Tip: Over 2.5 goals @ 19/20 with Paddy Power
Buendia to notch on debut
As mentioned before, former Argentina Under-20 midfielder Buendia was the driving force in Norwich’s Championship-winning campaign and Villa have got a real talent on their hands.
As well as scoring 15 league goals, the 24-year-old had the same number of assists. So while there will be a lot of responsibility on his shoulders now Grealish has left the club, the new arrival will relish that challenge and has the talent to cope with it.
Buendia will be desperate to get off to a fast start and he gets the nod in the any-time scorer market.
Tip: Emiliano Buendia to score at any time @ 23/10 with Paddy Power
Watford vs Aston Villa odds
Watford are 9/4 to win at the weekend, with Aston Villa 5/4 to come away with the victory. A draw is priced at 9/4.
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