Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa squad has had a massive overhaul this summer with eight new arrivals through the door.
However, many have not had much if any chance to gel together and there are many options, particularly going forward.
With Christian Benteke no longer available for selection, Sherwood faces a big decision on who he will use to spearhead his attack.
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The former Tottenham manager has favoured a 4-3-3 system since taking over and signs point towards continuity after a positive pre-season.
Here is the likely starting XI for the crucial opening game against Bournemouth.
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Goalkeeper - Brad Guzan
A player who has had his critics this summer but is an easy selection between the sticks. The American stopper has been the number one for a couple of years since being re-signed under Paul Lambert and will be an almost definite starter on opening weekend.
Right Back - Alan Hutton
A contentious position that will divide opinion between the claret and blue faithful however I believe Sherwood will opt for Alan Hutton. A more solid defensive option compared to the adventurous Leandro Bacuna, the more experienced Hutton will deal better with the fire-pot atmosphere at Dean Court.
Centre Back - Micah Richards
Richards was signed early to huge fanfare and has been impressive in Villa’s pre-season. Providing he can stay fit this season he will be a big performer at Villa Park. A definite starter.
Centre Back - Ciaran Clark
A player who came of age last year before an unfortunate injury cut his season short. With Nathan Baker’s and Jores Okore’s injury issues however there is a big chance that this could be the 25 year olds big season. Sherwood will hope that Richards and Clark will form a solid partnership. A definite starter.
Left Back - Jordan Amavi
Arguably the biggest acquisition of the summer, the highly rated Frenchman appears to be the answer to Villa’s problematic left back position. A stand-out performer in pre-season with a huge future ahead of him. A definite starter.
Defensive Midfield – Ashley Westwood
Some might opt for Carlos Sanchez but for three years Westwood has hardly put a foot wrong. Not a player who gets the headlines but he is a man that Sherwood likes and who will most likely get the nod. A probable starter.
Centre Midfield – Idrissa Gueye
Viewed by many as a Fabian Delph replacement the former Lille man is full of energy and running whilst also can pick a pass. A player bought with a purpose with a full pre-season under his belt. A definite starter.
Centre Midfield – Carles Gil
Where the difference of opinion will truly begin. Paul Lamberts final signing is proving to be a highly talented individual. Frozen out by Sherwood at the end of last season but a bright spark in pre-season, Gil provides a midfield creativity that Villa have previously lacked. A full pre-season under his belt should give him the edge over new arrival Jordan Vertout, however this will be Sherwood’s big decision, Watch this space.
Forward – Jack Grealish
Villa’s brightest prospect showcased his talent with a mature display against Liverpool at Wembley. The 19 year old Holte End favourite is shaping up for a big season and is a definite starter.
Forward – Jordan Ayew
The Ghanaian forward is a player no doubt talented however he is not a player who will single-handedly lead the line. The younger brother of Andre has showcased a calmness in front of a goal and fine touch, due to this he is too good to sit on the bench and will hopefully play well off whoever occupies the main striker role. A probable starter.
Forward – Rudy Gestede
The man to fill that role will most likely be Rudy Gestede. The former Blackburn man is a carbon copy of former Villa favourite Christian Benteke and is a menace in the air. Strong hold up play and strength make him a perfect target man to bring others into play. A probable starter.
Scott Sinclair – A hat-trick in pre-season against Nottingham Forest show that he is a strong option who is raring to go. Unlucky to miss out but will definitely be given opportunities this year, a player with a real point to prove.
Jordan Vertout – The former Nantes man sits in the same category as Sinclair as a player who will get his opportunity this year. Not having a full pre-season works against him but will have a big role this year.
Leandro Bacuna – The makeshift right back is the other player who can fill the problematic position and will challenge Alan Hutton this year.
Do you agree with this selection? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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