Match Preview: Season opener at Villa Park against Wigan

I am part of a film club that meets every couple of months, we have a nice dinner, watch a film (the genre changes every time and it has to be considered a classic), drink a few beers and play poker. Tomorrow is film club night and I'm not going.

Film club is basically what we call it but it is basically an excuse for a few lads to get together and drink and talk rubbish and usually lose money, but it usually happens on a Friday and for the life of me I don't understand why it was changed to a Saturday, especially for this day.


Admittedly it does include watching the football tomorrow, but I think I'm too old to start drinking at lunch time and I'd actually not have my first day of the season interrupted and I'd rather be here, so, like I said, I'm not going and the official line is 'out of protest for it moving from Friday to a Saturday' but the truth is, I'm too excited and want to spend the first day of the season as it should be spent, completely focused on The Villa.

Which is what this post is about so apologies about getting a little personal about my private life, but it needed to be said, for you to understand how important I think tomorrow is, not generally, but to me.

Expectations

We've seen quite a lot of things this summer to make us think things are not as bad as some of us, me included, might have thought by not directly replacing Barry or Laursen and as of right now, I'm not sure what team Martin O'Neill is going to put out or even what formation.

My head says 442 with Friedel, Shorey, Davies, Cueller, Beye, Milner, Petrov, Sidwell, Young, Gabby and Carew. My heart tells me it could be so different.

We saw Milner play 20 minutes of very good football on the left the other night for England which made me even think about playing him for Villa on the left. Doing that would allow O'Neill to play Ashley in the hole behind a main striker, probably Carew, who had a fantastic match against Scotland the other night too.

If the manager did it, he could put Albrighton on the right, who we now know has a bit of pace, some trickery and a wonderful cross.

But that isn't all. Towards the end of last season a few were talking about putting Milner in the middle and that remains an option, mostly because of the emergence of Albrighton, which would still allow Young to terrorise the left side and allow O'Neill to put out a 442 or a variation of 451.

If he went 451, we've even got Fabian Delph who could come in and even though my head formation doesn't include him, half of me expects him to start tomorrow, but it's just a feeling, I'm not sure why.

What I'm getting at is while our heads might tell us we know exactly what is going to happen, we actually don't know, as we've seen lots of things happen this summer and I fancy O'Neill is going to mix it up this season, don't ask me why and it might not happen tomorrow, but I think we are going to see it this season.

Wigan

Well, what can we say about Wigan. We drew with them at Villa Park in January but beat them 4-0 away last October. They've also lost two influential figures in Valencia to Manchester United and Cattermole to Sunderland and while they've brought in a few players you've got to fancy that losing those two is going to have an impact.

They've also got a new manager in Roberto Martínez who takes over from Steve Bruce. Bruce got Wigan to 11th last season and while Martínez shouldn't be underestimated, there is a big difference from managing a team like Swindon Swansea to Wigan and the match tomorrow is going to be a new experience for him. Missing two very good players is also going to not do him any favours, but he is going to try and stamp his own game on Wigan, which I think will ultimately mean we win tomorrow.

The Manager

We've had a good pre-season. Players have improved their fitness, improved in terms of confidence and determination. All of those things we had in abundance, particularly in the Peace Cup. But I've said in the past the test is in the Barclays Premier League and it starts in earnest on Saturday. It's a big game and we are all looking forward to it.

Prediction

A new manager brings a new game and Martínez will have spent a bit of time drilling into his players how he wants them to play but nothing can prepare you for your first game in the Premier League and I fancy we are going to come out all guns blazing.

This is going to either shock Wigan into making tactical changes or they are going to persist, which will I think give us this game. We have too much quality and on paper we should win this. I also think we are going to have an edge after our pre-season.

I know I'm looking at this too much and I know it might be completely different but I just think we are going to be too much for Wigan and I know this next part is pre-season optimism, but I can see us getting a very good result tomorrow and not just a boring 1-0 win.

I am mostly looking forward to seeing who starts and the formation but even if we start how we finished like I've said, I just think we are going to have too much for them. I'm going for a 3-0 home win.

Match Day against Wigan

I'll be starting a match post quite early tomorrow, we'll be dropping links to everything you might need and the only thing I ask for is optimism. I fancy we can, I think we will and as supporters we have a part to play in this season. It's an important one.

Twitter updates here and don't forget, you have today to enter your team in our fantasy football league and until tomorrow at 11.30am (double check this) to make as many changes to your team as possible.

I'm off to put up a ceiling. Back in a couple of hours. I might even wear my Villa shirt doing it, just to get in the mood.