Aston Villa v Sunderland – the preview

In Match Previews

The Black Cats will arrive at Villa Park this afternoon desperate for points, having picked up only one from the opening three games of the 2015-16 season and on a six-game winless run. The hosts, meanwhile, will be hoping to secure their first home win of the season.

History suggests that the encounter could be a fiery one, with five red cards issued in the sides’ last five meetings at Villa Park.

Like the Villans, Advocaat’s men struggled against lower league opposition in the Capital One Cup earlier in the week and their performance showed the need for the manager to make defensive improvements before the transfer window closes.

Gestede will be hoping to exploit the opposition’s weaknesses and bully the visitors in a bid to add to his tally in claret and blue, after sealing the win for his new club on the opening day of the season.

Although he has been criticised for his performances so far this season, Agbonlahor has scored five goals in his last five appearances against the North East side.

The Villans are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League meetings with Sunderland, winning four of those games, and Sherwood will be targeting three points this afternoon.

Recent form:

Aston Villa: W L L

Sunderland: L L D

Team news:

Adama Traore, who scored on his home debut and whose cross led to Souare’s own goal at Selhurst Park last Saturday, picked up an ankle injury in Tuesday night’s League Cup game against Notts County so he faces a late fitness test.

A sickness bug has swept through Bodymoor Heath once again, affecting two unnamed players and leaving them unable to train yesterday. Sherwood is hopeful that they will be fit enough to feature.

Jores Okore is continuing to recover from surgery and will not feature today.

Possible line-up:

Guzan

Bacuna     Richards     Clark     Amavi

Westwood     Gueye

Agbonlahor     Grealish     Sinclair

Gestede

The opposition:

Sunderland is a club that has danced too close to the dreaded drop zone in recent years and securing the services of Dick Advocaat beyond the end of the 2014-15 season was seen as a ray of hope at the Stadium of Light.

However, fans are growing increasingly concerned by the club’s lack of transfer activity and, after some shambolic displays in the early stages of the 2015-16 season, some believe that the Black Cats are running out of lives and could well be relegated come May.

Advocaat’s new loan signing Ola Toivonen is available for selection but he is unlikely to start due to a lack of training.

Jeremain Lens and Billy Jones, who both missed the mid-week win over Exeter because of injury, may be fit. 

Match information:

Referee: Robert Madley

Venue: Villa Park

Kick-off: 3p.m.

Ticket availability: Tickets are still available to home supporters, priced from £27 for adults

Last meeting: 14th March 2015 – Sunderland 0 – Aston Villa 4

Predictions:

Mark Lawrenson: 2-0

Paul Merson: 2-0

AnneMc: 3-1

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