Hull City and Aston Villa lock horns in the first Monday Night Football offering of 2017/18. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter from KCOM Stadium...
"Aston Villa can be backed at an attractive 2.80 and represent one of the best value bets from across the opening weekend of Football League action."
Hull starting from scratch
Hull are heading into the 2018/19 season with an extremely thin squad after several players turned down new deals at the back end of last season. At least nine of the Tigers' first XI last term won't be returning to the fold for the current campaign leaving manager Nigel Adkins short of options.
Allan McGregor, Michael Dawson, Sebastien Larsson, David Meyler, Abel Hernandez, Ola Aina, Harry Wilson, Michael Hector and Max Clark have all departed to name just a few. It's been a tumultuous summer with the Humbersiders' complete back five in need of replacing for the big kick-off.
Full-backs Todd Kane and Eric Lichaj are both set to start, as is new goalkeeper George Long, whilst centre-backs Jordy de Wijs and Reece Burke will be relied up at the heart of defence. However, there's been a distinct lack of business to address the squad's other shortfalls in key areas.
Aston Villa aim to bounce back
Aston Villa suffered play-off heartbreak at Wembley last May and have endured a tumultuous summer off the field. Financial troubles threatened to ruin the Claret & Blue but the club have appeared to have found steadier waters of late, as well as finally backing Steve Bruce to continue in the managerial hot-seat.
Bruce has lost the leadership of John Terry and loan signing Robert Snodgrass since last term but in-demand Jack Grealish, James Chester and Jonathan Kodjia remain at the club and all three are expected to start in an experienced squad for Monday night's match.
The Villa boss has experimented with a back three in pre-season, with right-back Alan Hutton and Mile Jedinak part of the trio. However, Ritchie De Laet is suspended due to a read card he picked up at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.
Hull [2.84] have won just one of their last 14 tussles with Aston Villa (W1-D3-L10) and the Tigers may struggle to match the Claret & Blue's quality. The hosts recorded only three clean sheets at the KCOM Stadium last season and picked up just three points when welcoming the Championship's top-eight (W0-D3-L5).
With Nigel Adkins' squad noticeably weaker in both boxes, it makes sense to oppose the hosts here on Monday night. Aston Villa can be backed at an attractive [2.80] and represent one of the best value bets from across the opening weekend of Football League action.
Any fears of a play-off hangover could be allayed by the knowledge that losing play-off finalists have only lost one curtain-raiser across the past 10 seasons.
Neither manager has been overseen many high-scoring Championship encounters in their respective home/away games at their current clubs and so there might be mileage in supporting Under 2.5 Goals at [1.80] quotes.
Hull's 13 home matches under Nigel Adkins' watch saw eight (62%) games fall below the line with six (46%) producing no more than a solitary strike. Meanwhile, Aston Villa's 40 away outings under Steve Bruce have seen 26 (65%) feature profitable Under 2.5 Goals punts.