Date: 22nd June 2018 at 4:26pm
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Opening six fixtures offer Villa a chance to steady the ship

Aston Villa’s summer of uncertainty rumbles unhappily along, with the club battling to resolve its ongoing financial worries.

Barely a week goes by without mention of payments to HMRC or salary outgoings, leaving fans to sit and hope that owner Tony Xia continues to keep everything propped up.

The inevitable sale of midfielder Jack Grealish would go a long way to sorting out the problems, but his potential suitors are probably in no hurry to part with upwards of £30 million when there is a chance they could snap him up for less further down the line.

The likes of Robert Huth, Moses Odubajo and Michael Hefele have been linked with moves to Villa Park, but the club’s financial position means any potential deals are currently on hold.

No doubt Villa’s squad will look different by the time August comes around and it remains to be seen whether manager Steve Bruce can mould a team that can mount a serious promotion challenge.

The majority of sports betting operators have the Villains priced at around 14/1 to win the Championship next season and that is probably a fair reflection of their chances as things stand.

The release of the fixtures this week offered fans hope that the club could get the campaign off to a good start, with Villa handed what looks to be a favourable run of games.

Read on as we look at the club’s first six matches.

Monday, August 6 – Hull City (A)

Hull finished 18th last season, but manager Nigel Adkins will be confident that he can get the Tigers challenging for the play-offs next term. Villa drew twice with Hull in 2017/18 and a similar result this time around would represent a satisfactory start to the campaign.

Prediction: 1-1

Saturday, August 11 – Wigan Athletic (H)

Wigan won League One last season, but they will find things much tougher in the Championship. Villa took six points from their two encounters with Wigan when the two sides last met at this level during the 2016/17 campaign and a home victory is on the cards this time around.

Prediction: 2-0

Saturday, August 18 – Ipswich Town (A)

Town fans are looking towards the new campaign with optimism following the appointment of manager Paul Hurst. However, their squad is need of a serious overhaul and Villa should travel to Portman Road confident that they can collect three points.

Prediction: 0-1

Tuesday, August 21 – Brentford (H)

Brentford have established themselves as a solid Championship club and they haven’t lost against Villa in their last four meetings. Last year’s 0-0 draw at Villa Park was an instantly forgettable encounter and the Bees will probably make things difficult once again.

Prediction: 0-0

Saturday, August 25 – Reading (H)

Reading narrowly missed relegation last season and the pressure will be on manager Paul Clement to drive the club up the table. Villa won 3-0 when the two sides met back in April and they can pick up another three points from this one.

Prediction: 2-1

Saturday, September 1 – Sheffield United (A)

The Blades flirted with the play-off places for much of last season, before dropping away to finish 10th. They are capable of pushing on next term and this could be the most difficult match out of Villa’s opening six games.

Prediction 2-1

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