CHAMPIONSHIP specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) shares his verdict from Saturday evening's clash between Aston Villa and recently relegated Hull.
Aston Villa v Hull | Saturday 5th August 2017, 17::30 | Sky Sports
Aston Villa are widely fancied by many to challenge for promotion this season but there are too many question marks at the moment for my liking.
Steve Bruce looks to be assembling a decent, experienced yet unspectacular squad. It could work but there looks to be a lack of versatility available, which could prove costly.
The defence worries me; as much as he’s not overly liked off the pitch, John Terry is a good signing but his game-time will have to be managed carefully. As good as an addition JT is, Chris Samba is not and the fact Nathan Baker has been moved on as a result makes it even worse.
It’ll be intriguing to see how Villa’s defensive line shapes up as the season progresses but they’ll need James Chester fit and playing well.
In midfield Villa have plenty of good options but too similarly-styled players whilst in attack they lack a bit of X-Factor, for me. For now at least, the goal scoring burden is fully on the shoulders of Scott Hogan and Jonathon Kodjia.
With the latter missing for the first weeks of the season the pressure’s on Hogan from the off…
Tigers lacking numbers
Hull start the new season desperately lacking in playing staff. Most of last season’s squad have move on and not many new faces have come through the door yet.
Leonid Slutski has come in to take over from Marco Silva in what should be a good appointment but, like Sunderland, it may take a while for the Tigers to get going. Slutski arrives with a good record back in Russia and a close friendship with Roman Abramovich.
That friendship has already been put to good use with Michael Hector and Ola Aina both arriving on loan from Chelsea. Both are good signings but Hull need at least six or seven more quality players if they want to contend this season.
The betting angle
Aston Villa to pick up the three points is 11/10 (Unibet) and that looks like the best bet of the opening weekend. It may not be an exciting game for the neutral but I’d expect Villa to grind out the win with relative ease.
I fully expect both these teams to progressively improve as the season goes on but Hull are starting at a much lower base than Villa and have to be opposed here.
Aston Villa v Hull – Aston Villa to win (11/10 Unibet)