The Premier League is finally returning and one of the promoted clubs will travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium during the opening weekend. Aston Villa will face a difficult trip to face last seasons Champions League finalists Tottenham. Both clubs have made some eye-catching signings this summer, but they will have very different aims for the season. The home team will be looking to push towards the top of the division and stay in the title race as long as possible, with a trophy being high on the agenda. Meanwhile, the visitors will have survival on their minds.
Tottenham have had a very good summer, even if they left it to the last minute to complete some of their business. Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon have joined to provide tactical flexibility to the squad. The central midfield positions were an area that needed to be improved on. Last season, Moussa Sissoko was the standout player in the central areas. Although he has proven that he has something to offer to Spurs, they needed more quality in that area of the pitch. They have also managed to keep hold of a number of key players, including Toby Alderweireld.
Aston Villa went on a surge towards the end of last season to qualify for the play-offs. For a long time, it looked unlikely that they would finish in the top six, but Dean Smith did an excellent job and they deserved their promotion to the Premier League after three seasons in the second tier. They have added some quality to their squad this summer, with 12 new signings. Supporters will be very pleased that the club have kept a number of key loanees, including Tyrone Mings. They should heed warning from Fulham’s campaign, but they will believe they can stay up.
Tottenham have won nine of the last ten meetings between the two clubs.
Aston Villa have only scored three goals during that ten-match streak.
Last season, Kane’s campaign was hampered by his ankle injuries. He only played 28 matches in the Premier League due to this and his goals return of 17 was his lowest since his breakthrough to the first team. The England captain will be desperate to return to his lofty heights during the new season and the failure to sign another striker underlines the faith that the club have in him. During the pre-season, the 26-year-old looked close to his best and ready for the first game of the season. It will be fascinating to see if he can avoid major injuries. If he does, he will once again be a contender for the golden boot. Tottenham now have a squad capable of challenging for major honours. They showed that in the Champions League last season. They will have the ambition to better that over the next nine months and few would back against them. If they do, Kane will be key to their chances.
There were a number of new signings at Villa Park this summer, but the new contract given to John McGinn may be the most important piece of business completed by the newly-promoted club. Aston Villa rely on the Scottish international and Jack Grealish to create chances in the final third. The pair are given freedom to roam and they can be very difficult to deal with. It will be fascinating to see if they are as effective in the Premier League. Last season, the 24-year-old contributed seven goals and nine assists in the Championship, underlining his attacking quality. In addition to this, he completed 3.1 ball recoveries per game, showing his quality in defence. That said, he did pick up 14 yellow cards, which may become a problem if it doesn’t improve. If the visitors are going to get anything from the game, they will need the midfielder to be at his best.
Son Heung-min is suspended for this match following a sending off at the back end of last season. Juan Foyth is also suspended, although the Argentine will be out for a longer period of time due to an injury. Dele Alli, Ben Davies, Eric Dier and Serge Aurier are all injured. Tanguy Ndombele could make his debut. It is unlikely Giovani Lo Celso or Ryan Sessegnon will be rushed into the squad following their deadline day arrivals.
Jed Steer, Anwar El Ghazi and Ezri Konsa are all doubts for the visitors, but there is hope all three could be included in the squad. There are likely to be a number of debuts for the visitors, including Tom Heaton, Jota and Wesley.
This is going to be a good game to watch, with both sides offering intrigue. Tottenham should be more settled, given only one new signing is expected to start. They will miss Dele Alli and Son Heung-min, but Erik Lamela has looked good during pre-season. They should have enough to get their first win of the season at home. Villa struggled at the back last season, conceding 61 times in 46 league matches. It will be a struggle for them to keep the home side out.