Aston Villa kick-start their European adventure against Hibernian on Wednesday evening (17.45) at Easter Road Stadium, and the Premier League side are fancied to secure a healthy first-leg advantage here.
Following a memorable success in Switzerland last week, Hibernian secured themselves a spot in the final round of qualification for the Europa Conference League, while Unai Emery’s side bounced back from their opening-day massacre at Newcastle United with a thumping 4-0 win of their own against Everton on Sunday afternoon.
Long-term absentees Harry McKirdy and Jojo Wollacott are not available for Hibs, while former Manchester United midfielder Dylan Levitt sustained an ankle injury in Lucerne last week.
Unfortunately for Unai Emery, Tyrone Mings and Emi Buendia are both out for the season due to respective injuries.
Phillipe Coutinho is also sidelined after succumbing to a hamstring injury on Sunday, while Jacob Ramsey (foot) and Alex Moreno (thigh) are also unavailable to Villa’s head coach.
Aston Villa to win and both teams to score @ 9/5
The hosts haven’t had too much trouble finding the net having scored 16 goals in their last six matches, but they’ve also conceded 10 and haven’t managed a clean sheet in any of their last 10.
In addition, Villa have seen 10 goals scored across their two matches in the league this term, so goals could very much be on the menu this week.
As mentioned above, Villa bounced back from the demolition at St. James’ Park with an emphatic 4-0 victory against Everton last Sunday, so confidence will be high coming into this clash.
Aston Villa total goals – over 2.5 @ 11/10
Unai Emery has won the Europa League on four occasions, three times with Sevilla and once with Villarreal, and he is likely to name a strong team in a bid to add another European trophy to his glittering CV.
Picking up more points than any team other than Manchester City during the second half of the 2022-23 campaign, Villa won each of their final seven home fixtures to pip Tottenham to seventh place – their best league finish for over a decade, so they are certainly a team on the ascendancy under Emery.
Villa dominated proceedings against Everton, scoring four but also had 61% possession as well as 13 shots, and I can see a similar performance playing out here.