The Villans won their second game of the season, ending a nineteen-match winless run, with a battling performance against Crystal Palace on Tuesday. Joleon Lescott headed home from a Jordan Veretout corner, as Wayne Hennessey fumbled the ball back into his own net. The performance from the Villa team was admirable and gave Villa fans the lift they needed after a dismal season so far.
Next on the list is Leicester City. The Foxes travel to Villa Park this evening in search of a win to continue their title charge. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!
Despite just about surviving relegation last season, Leicester City continue to defy the odds. Not only are Ranieri’s men the surprise package in England, there is no team in Europe right matching their feats.
Venue: Villa Park
Date: Saturday 16th January 2016
Referee: Roger East
Rémi Garde revealed in his pre-match press conference that Gabby Agbonlahor is now fit and ready for first team action. Despite speculation about Agbonlahor’s future at Aston Billa, Garde will look to include him in his match day squad for the first time in a few months.
Jack Grealish has also recovered from the bout of tonsillitis that kept him out of the games against Wycombe Wanderers and Crystal Palace. Despite struggling for form and being unable to inspire the team to anything worthwhile this season so far, he will also be looking to make his way into the squad. He’ll probably be looking to make an impact off the bench as it doesn’t look like he’ll be starting.
Carlos Sánchez has also recovered from the hamstring injury which ruled him out for the last few weeks.
Alan Hutton looks to miss out as the fixture has come too early for him.
Long term absentees Jordan Amavi and Adama Traoré still remained sidelined.
Micah Richards did not feature against Crystal Palace to protect an ankle problem as Garde rang the changes for that game. The Villa captain has declared himself fit after suffering a minor ankle injury against Wycombe Wanderers last weekend.
Defender Jeff Schlupp remains sidelined and will not make the game against Villa. He’s an instrumental defender for the team, who seems to be close to full fitness.
Matty James remains Ranieri’s only long-term absentee as he has been sidelined for another couple of months.
The danger men:
Every man and his dog knows about the rise of Jamie Vardy. His inspired play this season is one of the main reasons why the Foxes are flying so high. Jamie Vardy broke the record for most goals scored in consecutive matches when he scored in eleven consecutive games, beating Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record. Vardy has scored fifteen goals in the league so far. His high tempo, aggressive closing down of defenders is an effective tactic which has put his team into dangerous positions. It also puts Leicester on the front foot, which takes the pressure off the Foxes’ back line.
Riyad Mahrez has also been a revelation this season. The skilful wide man has chipped in with goals and assists to propel his team to the top of the table. Mahrez has scored thirteen goals this season.
This is a very pivotal moment in time for Aston Villa Football Club. The win on Tuesday was much needed and, as it stands, the Villans are eight points off safety. Another win would do wonders for confidence and solidarity within the Villa squad.
The Villans’ overall form has been getting better of late. Out of the last five games home and away, they have won once, drawn twice and lost twice (W D L L D).
At home, it is very much the same (W D L L D).
The Foxes’ away form has been very good. Their never-say-die attitude is a big reason why they’ve been so resilient on the road. Ranieri’s charges have won three, lost once, and drawn one in the last five away games. (W D L W W).
The corresponding fixture earlier in the season was a great game for the neutrals, although supporters of both clubs went through a variety of emotions during the game.
The last five games between these sides have ended with Leicester winning three games and Aston Villa winning two.
The first fixture between these two clubs this season was played in September. Aston Villa played extremely well for sixty-five minutes of the game, as they dominated and made their advantage count with two excellent goals. Jack Grealish scored his first goal for his club, a sublime goal, followed up by Carles Gil scoring with an equally brilliant finish. Tim Sherwood, the manager at the time, then took off a tired Carles Gil. Instead of shoring up the midfield, he brought on Gabby Agbonlahor and it went all downhill from there. Aston Villa lost their momentum and the hosts came back into the game with three goals in eighteen minutes to win the game 3-2.