Aston Villa arrived in Orlando for their second pre-season game in the United States, facing Fulham at the Exploria Stadium.

Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy


Aston Villa faced Fulham this evening (or morning, if you’re in the UK) at Orlando’s Explora Stadium, with a delayed kick-off due to inclement weather. Unai Emery named a strong starting eleven, but one that featured youngsters Cameron Archer and Jaden Philogene-Bidace from the off – with the latter starting for the third time this pre-season. New signing Moussa Diaby made the bench.

It was Unai Emery’s side that took the early attacking initiative, but neither side truly tested the opposition defence in the opening period of the game. The opening 20 minutes were an interesting tactical battle between both teams.

On the stroke of the half hour mark, Cameron Archer’s composed, racing run into the box following Kamara’s raking pass caused Fulham a host of problems and the young forward was hacked down. For the resulting penalty, Archer stepped up – only to see his effort, which was heading for the bottom left corner, saved by the fingertips of Bernd Leno.

It was still, however, Aston Villa who were the side to break the deadlock. Lucas Digne’s floated ball into the centre of the back found Jaden Philogene-Bidace, who was racing to meet the ball from the back post. He flashed a half-volley between Bernd Leno’s legs before racing off in celebration.

After five minutes of added time at the end of the half, the Villans went in ahead at the break.


The start of the second half saw a number of changes for Aston Villa, with Emiliano Martinez, Matty Cash, Douglas Luiz and new signing Moussa Diaby replacing Robin Olsen, Diego Carlos, John McGinn and Boubacar Kamara. A few minutes later and Pau Torres was replaced by Tyrone Mings.

Around the hour mark, and after a few occasions of Cameron Archer being caught offside, Emery opted to shuffle the deck once more. Lucas Digne, Cameron Archer, Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Emiliano Buendia were replaced by Sebastian Revan, Ollie Watkins, Philippe Coutinho and Omari Kellyman.

Calum Chambers replaced Ezri Konsa shortly after as the latter went down injured after a challenge against Carlos Vinicius. Konsa walked off the pitch with no issue – with the problem likely to be cramp.

Moussa Diaby showcased exactly why Aston Villa paid so much for him in the 73rd minute as he raced onto the end of a Douglas Luiz lofted ball. He connected with the ball via his knee, before surging into the box and firing low and hard past substitute goalkeeper Marek Rodak for a debut goal.

There was the opportunity to make it three for Ollie Watkins, as the forward pounced on a loose pass and found himself one-on-one with Rodak – but the England international found the ball stuck under his feet and was unable to get a shot away.

Overall, a positive display from Aston Villa across what was, in essence, a relatively dull affair. Youri Tielemans got 90 minutes in the tank and Philippe Coutinho returned from injury, which offered two more positives. Youngsters are showcasing their talents for a role in the squad this season, or at least for a loan elsewhere. The squad will now prepare for Brentford on Sunday.

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