Aston Villa V Hull City Preview: Two promotion rivals clash on opening day

Aston Villa take on Hull City at Villa Park on Saturday in both team's opening game of the 2017/18 EFL Championship season.

Aston Villa V Hull City Preview: Two promotion rivals clash on opening day
Former Chelsea captain John Terry will be taking the field for Aston Villa this season. (Photo: Neville Williams/Getty)

Aston Villa host relegated Hull City on the opening day of the EFL Championship season, with both clubs among the favourites for promotion. 

Bruce faces former team

An interesting side note heading into this season opener at Villa Park, is the fact Villa manager Steve Bruce comes up against the club he won two promotions with in four years. Bruce resigned as Tigers boss 13 months ago after a disagreement over the club's transfer policy, all just a matter of weeks before Hull started their 2016/17 Premier League campaign.

Bruce of course is now back in the second city after Villa appointed him manager in October last season. Bruce had a pretty 50/50 record and couldn't guide the club towards the playoffs with them eventually finishing 13th following a disappointing start to the season under Roberto Di Matteo

Bruce though, has now had a full pre season at the club and a summer transfer window to put his mark on the squad and he certainly has to this point. Bruce has looked to add real experience to the team this year with the arrivals of Ahmed Elmohamady, Glenn Whelan and Christopher Samba along with the marquee arrival of Chelsea legend John Terry on a free transfer.

Along with the loan signing of goalkeeper Sam Johnstone from Manchester United and the players they brought in back in January, Bruce has built a pretty scary team for the second tier.

Tigers looking to bounce back under new boss

Despite Marco Silva's efforts in the second half of last season, Hull were relegated straight back to the Championship after Bruce had got them up in 2015/16. This brave effort from Silva attracted Premier League attention and Watford made sure he stayed in the top flight.

Hull acted quickly however, in appointing former Russia national team head coach Leonid Slutsky. Slutsky has had a tough start to the job in having to see a lot of first team players find new homes in the top flight, such as Harry Maguire, Andy Robertson and Eldin Jakupovic just to name a couple.

In contrast to their first opponents, Hull have targeted youth for the players they've brought in after a couple of loan signings of Chelsea players including Michael Hector and low cost deals for Kevin Stewart and Ondrej Mazuch.

Slutsky will be hopeful that these bright, new faces can gel well into a squad, which still has a lot of players surviving from their last season in the second tier. 

Team news

Bruce has a few injury issues at the start of the season including last season's top scorer, Jonathan Kodjia being out for the first month of the campaign. 

Young talisman Jack Grealish is also out long term after a nasty collision in a pre season game against Watford

Hull's only real concern is over wide player Evandro who is struggling with a hamstring injury. Other than this virtually all of their new boys are set to feature including Frazer Campbell in his second spell with the club. 

Stats

Both teams have only lost one of their last four opening day games

Villa have won nine of their last 10 home games against Hull, including seven wins in a row.

Villa's Connor Hourihane led the Championship in assists last season with 14, but only three of these came as a Villa player. 

The game kicks off on Saturday, 17:15 at Villa Park.


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