Crystal Palace v Aston Villa – the preview

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The Villans visit Selhurst Park for this afternoon’s Premier League match. Both managers will wish to get back to winning ways after matching results from their opening two fixtures – an away win followed by a home loss.

The Eagles´laudable rise to mid-table level sees them currently in the position that the Villans are aspiring to be in during the next two seasons and of the previous four meetings between the sides (since Palace’s return to the Premier League) they edge the head-to-heads, with two wins in their favour, one draw, and one win for the Villans.

While Pardew´s men lost at home to Arsenal in their last game, the Villans suffered the same fate against Manchester United. Both sides did win their opening fixtures and put up more than a fair fight in the losses; the Eagles conceded an unfortunate own-goal to give Arsenal an unassailable 2-1 lead, while the Villans limited their counterparts to a largely lacklustre display that was decided by a heavily deflected Adnan Januzaj effort.

The past few meetings between these two sides have been relatively low scoring affairs, and with it being early in the season it’s hard to predict anything other than a 1-1 draw.

RECENT FORM:

Aston Villa: W L

Crystal Palace: W L

TEAM NEWS:

Jack Grealish is expected to start after recovering from a hamstring injury and scoring in Villa’s U21 victory over Derby U21s mid-week.

Carles Gil didn’t last the full match against Derby U21s but should still make the match-day squad after his injury.

New boy Adama Traoré is unsurprisingly lacking match fitness but is still expected to feature in the match-day squad, despite Sherwood’s claims to the contrary.

Jores Okore, José Angel Crespo and Gary Gardner are still several weeks away from returning to first team action.

POSSIBLE LINE-UP:

Guzan

Hutton     Richards     Clark     Amavi

Westwood

Veretout     Gueye

Grealish

Gestede     Agbonlahor

THE OPPOSITION:

While not normally considered a predominantly counter-attacking team, possession statistics released by whoscored.com show that the Eagles have utilised that approach in both of their matches this season, having 42.3% and 44.7% of possession against Norwich and Arsenal respectively and mustering a relatively low total of eleven shots in each game. A return of four goals over the two games should represent their potency in front of goal.

KEY BATTLES:

Wilfried Zaha vs Jordan Amavi: Wilfried Zaha has lined up on the right side of midfield in Palace’s first two outings and how new fan favourite Jordan Amavi deals with the winger’s threat will be key to securing a result. Although I think the Villa boys will line-up in a midfield diamond, I also think Gueye and Veretout will be tasked with providing cover for their respective full backs in an effort to nullify the home side’s main threat.

Yohan Cabaye vs Idrissa Gueye: Cabaye was potentially the signing of the summer and he is a proven top-class talent so allowing him to dictate play, as he has done so often against Villa before, would be suicidal. He normally scores a cracker…

Yannick Bolasie vs Alan Hutton: Bolasie didn’t start the season-opener but returned to the starting XI for the game against Arsenal and is expected to start again today. Countering Bolasie’s threat is the reason I’d start with Hutton, although he’s going to need help to thwart the Congolese flyer and I expect Jordan Veretout to help out with this.

MATCH INFORMATION:

Referee: Keith Stroud

Venue: Selhurst Park

Kick-off: 3p.m.

Tickets: Away allocation sold out

Last meeting: Tuesday 2nd December 2014 – Crystal Palace 0 – 1 Aston Villa

PREDICTIONS:

Mark Lawrenson: 2-0

Paul Merson 2-0

Jon Startin: 1-1

Preview written by Jon Startin.

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