Aston Villa are without Jedinak and Kodjia, their two best players from last season. However, Steve Bruce has an impressive squad at his disposal. Grealish is another notable absentee, but Johnstone, Terry, Whelan and El Mohamady are primed to start. Deciding on which formation to pick is a big decision Bruce has to make as well. Adomah is highly likely to miss out through injury too. In practically every game this season Aston Villa will be deemed favorites, especially at home. Despite facing a relegated club like Hull, they are -0.5 on the handicap market. Given Hull’s big troubles in losing key men and signing few replacements, plus Aston Villa have signed some impressive names, this line is correctly priced. Bruce will demand a victory to send out a statement of intent. The team were very poor defensively last season but the signing of Terry should make all the difference. Villa will go into every game expecting a clean sheet, so the key is how many goals they can score. They are missing Kodjia, which is a slight concern, but they have quality alternatives. They won’t necessarily go all out for more goals if 1-0 ahead unless they score early enough in the game.
Hull City will hand debuts to several new signings. McGregor starts in goal ahead of the injured Marshall, whilst young Lenihan is set to make his first league start at right back given Odubajo is out long term. Evandro remains a doubt but experienced Meyler should make the bench. Mason and Keane remain injured and have been for many months already. Hull have a good starting eleven but lack depth. It is easy to see why Hull are viewed as the outsiders priced at +0.5 on the handicap line. This is pure because of the impressive recruitment made by opponents Aston Villa this summer. Hull themselves have added solid players but lost a big part of their core. Leonid Slutsky is managing in this league for the first time too, and would be delighted to head home with an away draw at Villa Park. The more pre-season has progressed, the more Hull began to showcase issues of scoring goals. This was the reason why they were relegated last season. The concern now is the new signings may need time to gel, plus it is new tactics from a new manager. Aston Villa will push to win, so Hull could be more defensive than they’d like, placing doubts on breaking the over 2.25 goal line.
Verdict & Prediction
Aston Villa are the favorites to win the league this season and have certainly put together the strongest squad in the league. The pressure is on them every week as every opponent will raise their game to defeat them. At home they were strong last season and expect to claim three points here.
Prediction: Aston Villa -0.50 Asian Handicap (same as Aston Villa to win match)
Odds: 1.92 Pinnacle
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