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Preview: Walsall vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Walsall vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Club Friendlies 1 clash between Walsall and Aston Villa, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Aston Villa ramp up their preparations for the 2022-23 season with a pre-season friendly against League Two outfit Walsall at the Bescot Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.

Steven Gerrard's side are yet to test their mettle in any matches this summer, while the hosts have already suffered back-to-back 1-0 losses to Barnsley and Birmingham City.

Match preview

A fourth successive season in League Two is on the menu for Walsall, who have failed to stake their claim for a promotion push since dropping down from League One in 2019 and have started pre-season in disappointing fashion.

Michael Flynn remains in the hotseat after guiding the Saddlers to a 16th-placed finish in the second tier last term, but his side have been shut out in both of their opening pre-season friendlies so far this month.

Devante Cole struck the winner for Barnsley on July 1 before Scott Hogan's 43rd-minute effort propelled Birmingham to a 1-0 win on Tuesday, and the likes of Leamington, Telford United, Coventry City and Solihull Moors also lie in wait for Walsall before their domestic campaign begins.

A plethora of new signings and trialists have so far failed to steer Walsall to a confidence-boosting win in pre-season, and their hopes of making it third time lucky against Aston Villa seem rather slim indeed.

The ever-ambitious owners of Aston Villa did not see their efforts reap the rewards they may have expected last term, as an influx of high-profile arrivals could only help the Lions achieve a 14th-placed finish in the top flight, and the powers-that-be have not hesitated to get the chequebook out again.

Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara could be preparing for Champions League action with Sevilla and Marseille respectively right now, but the duo instead chose to test their skills in England, and a permanent move for Philippe Coutinho has also been struck.

Splashing the cash on big names is one thing, but Gerrard must now prove that his new arrivals can gel and form an effective XI throughout a crucial campaign for Villa, whose fans may optimistically be thinking of a European charge.

A Villa XI will also take on Chasetown the day before Gerrard's men lock horns with Walsall, and the Lions also have meetings with Leamington, Leeds United, Brisbane Roar, Manchester United and Rennes to look ahead to before opening their new Premier League campaign against Bournemouth.

Not since the 1971-72 Third Division have Walsall and Aston Villa faced off competitively, with both meetings that season ending in stalemates, and the Saddlers have only won one of their previous six clashes with the Premier League outfit.

Walsall Club Friendlies 1 form:
  • L
  • L

Team News

Walsall have welcomed no fewer than 10 players to the club on permanent deals already this summer, and Welsh goalkeeper Adam Przybek - who should be handed the gloves from the first whistle - is among them.

A total of eight trialists were also handed minutes in the recent loss to Birmingham, as Flynn begins life without the retired Stephen Ward and Lee Tomlin, whose stint at Bescot was underwhelming to say the least.

Youth player Ronan Maher was brought on for the dying embers against Birmingham, and the 2004-born midfielder will be pining for an opportunity against Premier League opposition.

As for Villa, Gerrard can be expected to take his strongest players to Bescot rather than Chasetown this weekend, but he will still be without Ezri Konsa and his serious knee injury.

The visitors' international crop have been given more time off before returning to training, but Carlos is already being put through his places and could make his unofficial debut for the club here.

The likes of Emiliano Buendia, Tyrone Mings and Ollie Watkins are also raring to go this weekend, while 20-year-old Jaden Philogene-Bidace is among the young starlets seeking to catch Gerrard's eye.

Walsall possible starting lineup:
Przybek; Bennett, Clarke, Monthe, Gordon; Kiernan, Kinsella, Riley, Allen; Williams, James-Taylor

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Steer; Chambers, Carlos, Mings, Young; Luiz, Nakamba, Sanson; Buendia, Ings, El Ghazi

We say: Walsall 0-4 Aston Villa

A reshuffled Walsall side have failed to find the correct attacking formula so far in pre-season, and that is unlikely to change against a Villa side boasting plenty of star names.

A strong first XI should take to the field for the Lions before Gerrard shuffles the pack at half time, and the visitors should see out a comfortable success with minimal trouble.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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