Aston Villa face Man Utd in our final pre-season game on our tour of Australia, and Steven Gerrard is expected to name a strong XI for the encounter.
The Villa squad will return home after our final game Down Under, and with just one more confirmed friendly to play against Rennes before the start of the Premier League season, Gerrard has hinted on a few occasions that he will ramp up minutes for those he has in mind to start against Bournemouth.
Time will tell if that means he’ll name a full-strength side as he’ll still want to give minutes to certain individuals who have perhaps played less in pre-season thus far, but ultimately it could be an important indication as to what his plans are for the opening games of the new campaign.
After wins over Walsall, Leeds Utd and Brisbane Roar thus far, where Villa have scored six and conceded none, it’s hoped that we can continue that confidence-building form in what promises to be our toughest test yet this summer.
How Villa XI could look vs Man Utd in Perth
Emi Martinez will start between the posts as he looks to get his match sharpness to peak level, with Matty Cash, Diego Carlos and Lucas Digne ahead of him in defence, while there is perhaps one question mark over whether Gerrard goes with Tyrone Mings or Ezri Konsa.
The likelihood is that Mings will get the nod, but with Konsa having only registered 45 minutes so far in pre-season having returned from a knee injury, the Villa boss may well want to give him an extended run out to ensure he’s back at full fitness before the start of the new season.
In midfield, John McGinn, Boubacar Kamara and Jacob Ramsey are expected to start, with the Frenchman looking to continue to impress in that defensive role in front of the backline, while both McGinn and Ramsey will look to produce a performance as they will come under increasing pressure to keep their places this season given the competition.
Philippe Coutinho will likely start in behind Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins, although again, there are key decisions for Gerrard to make here as Emiliano Buendia and Cameron Archer in particular have both looked good in pre-season to date.
Villa have great options and depth across the pitch, but Gerrard must now find the right combinations and personnel to produce the best performances possible. Having had a chance to look at his players during our preparation in recent weeks, including some of his young talents who have made the trip, it was be fascinating to see who has gained his trust and will start this game.
Conversely, it’s still about fitness and avoiding injuries, and so he’ll no doubt rotate as the game goes on and it’s hoped that he gets the answers he needs to ensure we’re at our best, with the best system and players in place to get results, when August 6 at Bournemouth comes around.