Fresh off Villa’s opening win Monday, we’re right back to the League, er Carabao, Cup, traveling to Ashton Gate to take on Bristol City, who sit second in the Championship having won their first two.
So, a good test. The question will be a test for whom. One would assume we’ll see Traore get his first run-out. Could also well be that Hause comes in for Konsa, and Steer for Martinez. Nakamba for Luiz? Anyone for Watkins? Guilbert, Elmo or Taylor? Jack’s been pretty much an ever-present no matter what, as has Mings. Does McGinn need a bit of a rest, or more minutes?
Anyway, lots of questions soon to be answered. Obviously we were happy to go on a cup run last year despite everything, so I don’t believe Smith will consider this a throwaway match or competition. At the same time, given the strange circumstances with Restart, the short offseason, and an important early date with Fulham on Monday, we could see lots of rotation with a strong bench.
On the other hand, given the paucity of preseason matches, Smith might well field a more full-strength side to get Traore bedded in, and continue Watkins’ and Cash’s integration, never mind more game minutes in the legs.
Beyond that, the transfer window lumbers on. Rashica, of course, has become a very annoying story. Barkley and Loftus-Cheek a bit more intriguing and seemingly possible. King has gone quiet, Benrahma seems to have been erased from history, and not quite sure what to make of links popping up around Croatian Ante Budimir. Could be a clever move, could be like many are saying and be another Baston. All I know is that we’ll have done our research, so I’d hope it’s more clever than Baston.
Ismaila Sarr naturally has all the tongues wagging. Would we smash our transfer record yet again? Might explain some of the outgoings, and if this is on, then it would help explain Budimir. But seems to me there are other targets, like King, in the same ballpark as the Croatian. All a bit of negotiating shenanigans? Just as likely.
Regardless, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a new MF, and another winger and striker yet to arrive.
That’s basically what I’ve got. Still happy about the three points Monday, want another three this Monday. Which means I don’t really care about tonight. Until kickoff, that is, and then I will.
Over to you.