After last week’s disappointing result against Norwich City, Aston Villa drifted to eleven points from safety. The 2-0 loss was a bitter blow to Aston Villa’s survival chances and it feels like most fans have now accepted that Aston Villa Football Club will probably be relegated.
This game against Sunderland has now become monumental. A long overdue win for the Villans will mean they will only be one point behind the Black Cats. A loss, however, will further dampen the spirits of the fans and players alike.
The Black Cats haven’t has the greatest of times in recent weeks: they have lost every single one of their last five Premier League games. They managed to find the net in three of the last five games but they all proved to be consolation goals.
Loss v Liverpool (0-1)
Loss v Manchester City (4-1)
Loss v Chelsea (3-1)
Loss v Watford (0-1)
Loss v Arsenal (3-1)
Sunderland’s home form isn’t the best either but they’ve won two of their last home five games. An unexpected 2-0 victory over Stoke City in November and the now obligatory victory over bitter rivals Newcastle back in October were the only sources of points in the last two months.
The Stadium of Light is one of the few happy hunting grounds for Aston Villa: in the last five games there the Villans have beaten the home side three times, drawn once and lost once. The most recent victory against Sunderland was a very memorable one, as Christian Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor each scored a brace each to win the game 4-0. The result effectively cost Gus Poyet his job as Sunderland manager, as he was sacked two days later.
Garde’s men, as we all know, are also on a horrendous run themselves. They currently have the fewest points out of all the teams in the Premier League, the Championship and Leagues One and Two and haven’t tasted victory in the top flight since the opening day of the season.
In the Premier League, the Villans have drawn three of their last five games, losing two. Since Garde took over, there has been some improvement on the pitch, although defensive frailties and individual errors mean that the boys from B6 are still looking for their second victory of the season, a record which is astonishing for all the wrong reasons.
The danger men:
Jermaine Defoe remains a threat up front. Despite not exactly being prolific this season, he remains a player who doesn’t need too many attempts to score, as he has proven in his career. He has scored four goals this season, which isn’t surprising as Sunderland is a team that struggles to create multiple scoring opportunities, much like tomorrow’s opponents.
Fabio Borini also poses a threat as the forward likes to run the channels whenever possible, looking to get in behind the defence if played centrally.
Adam Johnson will also look to provide width on the channels so the Villans will have look out for him.
Aston Villa will be without their talisman in Jordan Ayew. The leading goalscorer for Villa has picked up too many bookings and is suspended for one league game.
Ashley Westwood will also miss out for the same reason.
Carlos Sánchez has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury suffered last week.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, who has scored five goals in five league appearances against Sunderland, has also been ruled out with a back injury while his future at Villa also seems threatened by the new manager.
The Black Cats are looking very light in central defence as Younès Kaboul has been ruled out through injury and manager Sam Allardyce has also told the press that John O’Shea and Sebastián Coates are very doubtful for the games against Villa.
Jack Rodwell and Sebastian Larrson have also been ruled out after they picked up injuries during a busy Christmas period.
Sunderland have not beaten Aston Villa in the last nine attempts. Aston Villa have won four and drawn five of those games.
The Black Cats have only managed to score nine goals at home this season.
These teams share the worst goal difference in the league, with -19 each.
Aston Villa have only managed to score fifteen goals this season, the lowest in the Premier League.