Report: Walsall 0-4 Aston Villa – Bailey, Archer, Watkins and Luiz seal win

Aston Villa secured a 4-0 win over Walsall in our pre-season friendly on Saturday, with Leon Bailey, Cameron Archer, Ollie Watkins and Douglas Luiz getting on the scoresheet.

Preparations for the new campaign are now underway for Villa and boss Steven Gerrard as we enjoyed a successful first run-out of the summer.

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With several of our internationals and those involved in games late on into the summer given an extended break and sent out to Australia ahead of our pre-season tour, Gerrard wasn’t able to field a full-strength Villa side at the Poundland Bescot Stadium.

However, despite missing key figures, Villa produced a solid performance as we scored four unanswered goals in a comfortable win.

Bailey opened the scoring with a fine, volleyed finish into the back of the net after a flick on from Anwar El Ghazi found him at the back post, before Archer showed great tenacity, determination and composure to win the ball, sprint clear in the Walsall half and produce a top finish.

Watkins also showed class with his strike to make it 3-0 after a great lay-off from youngster Tommi O’Reilly, while Luiz wrapped up the win with a goal direct from a corner as the Walsall goalkeeper lost his bearings and couldn’t keep it out.

Beyond the positive result, Villa fans got their first look at summer signing Diego Carlos who started in the heart of the defence and played well for 45 minutes, while Morgan Sanson put in an impressive shift in midfield too.

The pre-season schedule will be an opportunity for our youngsters to impress and stake their claim for a bigger role under Gerrard this season, and Kaine Kesler Hayden certainly didn’t do his hopes any harm with a good display at right-back.

It was a positive way for Villa and Gerrard to start our pre-season run, and it’s hoped that we can continue that in Australia, get everyone fully fit while avoiding injuries and in turn be at our best in time for the Premier League season opener against Bournemouth on August 6.

Aston Villa first-half starting XI: Sinisalo, Kesler Hayden, Carlos, Mings (C), Revan, Azaz, Nakamba, Traoré, El Ghazi, Bailey, Archer

Aston Villa second-half starting XI: Sinisalo, A. Young, Chambers, Feeney, Chrisene, O’Reilly, Luiz, Sanson, Buendía, Ings, Watkins