Aston Villa could only manage a 1-1 draw against Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park on Saturday in the third round of the FA Cup, which means that a replay will be scheduled for later this month at Villa Park as the players find themselves under increasing pressure to conjure up points in the league.
Up next is Crystal Palace. The Eagles are having a very good season, currently sitting in seventh place and within touching distance of a place in the Europa League. They have a brilliant away record this season so far, which is only bettered by Leicester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, winning five and drawing two of their nine away games.
Venue: Villa Park
Date: Tuesday 12th January 2016
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Rémi Garde confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Alan Hutton and Carlos Sánchez (both hamstring) will miss out as they still injured.
Gabby Agbonlahor remains a doubt with a back problem.
Jack Grealish may also struggle to make the squad due to a bout of tonsillitis, which also kept him out of the squad against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.
Micah Richards will be in contention despite limping off on Saturday, as he looks to have shaken off a foot injury in time.
Adama Traoré and Jordan Amavi remain long term absentees, which is a shame in Traoré’s case as in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, Adama’s introduction as a substitute really sparked the Villans into life and was directly responsible for getting the side back into the game.
The enigmatic Yannick Bolasie is still out injured with a leg problem and won’t be fit for another few weeks.
Yohan Cabaye took a knock in the Eagles’ game against Southampton and will be assessed before the game.
Connor Wickham and Dwight Gayle look set to feature as they are back to full fitness.
The danger men:
On his day, Yohan Cabaye is the man to watch out for. The twenty-nine-year-old Frenchman was once a target for Aston Villa when Gerárd Houllier was in charge but his inspired displays for Newcastle a few seasons ago earned him a dream move to Paris Saint-Germain. Despite playing well whenever called upon, Cabaye found his first team opportunities limited and a move back to England was sealed when he reunited with Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace.
He will hope to control the midfield and hit the passes to set up players on the counter-attack. Wilfried Zaha will look to latch on to any through balls and long diagonals played by Cabaye, which will be instrumental for Crystal Palace.
Despite being in hot and cold form at the moment, the Villa defence will have to pay attention to Zaha as his pace and trickery can cause issues.
Cabaye is also a set piece specialist so it would be a good idea to avoid giving away free-kicks in dangerous positions to avoid Cabaye punishing the hosts.
Scott Dan will also look to get forward at every opportunity at corners; the defenders will also have to keep him at bay.
As we all know and are undoubtedly sick of reading, the Villans haven’t won in the league since the first weekend of the season.
In the last five games in all competitions, the Villans have drawn three and lost two (D L L D D).
At home, the form doesn’t get any better as they’ve lost three and drawn two of the last five games (D L L D L).
The Eagles’ home form is what is holding them back; if they matched their away form at Selhurst Park they would be flying even higher and would be in contention for that elusive fourth Champions League spot. Their away from is something to be envied, as they’ve won three and drawn two of their last five away fixtures in all competitions (W D W D W).
Of the last five fixtures between the two sides (both home and away), the South Londoners have won three games, the boys from B6 have won one and there has been one draw.
However, the last five meetings at Villa Park between the two sides have seen the home side emerge victorious twice, the away team once and there have been two draws.
The last time these two teams met, the Eagles won the game late on when Bakary Sako scored the winner. The game ended 2-1 to Palace but in all honesty it was a game that could have gone either way, with good chances falling to both teams.