Bournemouth vs Aston Villa predictions: Villa can pick off Cherries in opener
Two of England’s brightest up-and-coming managerial prospects clash on the opening weekend of a season that will go a long way to establishing their top-class credentials, with Bournemouth manager Scott Parker welcoming former international teammate, Steven Gerrard, to the south coast.
After promising debut campaigns for both men at their respective clubs, Parker and Gerrard each have plenty of credit in the bank.
However, a strong start to 2022-23 will be seen as essential to ensure that neither man finds themselves under pressure in the unforgiving environment of Premier League management.
Bournemouth will begin the campaign with largely the same team that finished second in the Championship last term after two of Parker’s three summer signings, Ryan Fredericks and Joe Rothwell, were injured in pre-season.
They join long-term absentee David Brooks on the sidelines and it is likely that Parker will give his third signing, Marcus Tavernier, time to bed in following his arrival on Monday.
While the first XI looks largely the same, the Bournemouth squad currently appears weaker than last term.
The departure of six loanees combined with the release of Gary Cahill and a handful of fringe players sees Parker losing eight men with a combined 93 league appearances in 2021-22.
In the away dugout, Gerrard has only fringe defender Kortney Hause absent and the former Liverpool midfielder should be rather happier with his club’s summer business.
The Villans followed up their permanent signing of on-loan Philippe Coutinho with the impressive acquisitions of Sevilla defender Diego Carlos and sought-after France international midfielder Boubacar Kamara.
Robin Olsen arrives as back-up to first-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez.
The excitement and new manager bounce that followed Gerrard’s appointment in November did not last through to the back end of 2021-22, but Villa fans will have been pleased with their performances against the lesser teams.
Under Gerrard, Villa won 10 and lost only four of 18 matches against teams outside the top seven to give Villa supporters hope of being best of the rest in the chase for European football.
Bournemouth were hard to beat in the Championship last season and no second-tier rival could match their record of only eight league defeats and just 39 goals conceded.
Supporters of the south coast side will also take heart from the fact that even on their off-days, Bournemouth never put in a stinker of a performance.
Only twice did they lose by a two-goal margin in last season’s Championship and not once did they suffer a heavier defeat.
However, the step up in quality will prove a serious test of that defensive record and Bournemouth were less spectacular going forward – their 74-goal haul was 32 fewer scored than Championship winners Fulham.
Gerrard’s first few months at Villa Park were solid rather than spectacular but results against the lesser sides and a handful of impressive summer signings will have supporters dreaming of Europe.
They should certainly be hopeful of beating bottom-half teams more often than not and with Bournemouth leaving it late in the window to go bargain hunting for transfers, Villa travel to the south coast at an opportune moment.
It might not be the most entertaining clash between two defensively sound teams, but Villa should have the quality to nick a single-goal victory.