Sunday 15th May 2022

Premier League

@Villa Park

K.O 14:00 GMT

Aston Villa returns to Villa Park following Tuesday night’s outing against Liverpool.

Where the hosts were strong underdogs in the week, Sunday’s game sees a good match-up of two teams with relatively little to play for this season.

Sitting just one place, and one point above the Villans, Palace are seeing out a solid end to the season. Recent wins over Southampton and Watford however have been narrow, and Villa will look to pounce on this.

Steven Gerrard spoke of how Villa’s aim is to breach the top ten this season – Emi Martinez told VillaTV ‘its something that really motivates us’.

In South London, Vieira will be thinking the same. A top ten finish in his debut Premier League managerial season would do no harm to his growing reputation in the dugout – the Palace boss was shortlisted for manager of the season on Friday.

It would’ve been easy for these two to neglect the season’s remaining games, yet they haven’t. In a game that many have described as a dead rubber, credit to both sides for their continued fight towards the top half.

Aston Villa Team News

Villa come into the game with a fresh concern – attacking stalwart Ollie Watkins was substituted on Tuesday with an ankle problem, the extent to which is relatively unknown.

Jacob Ramsey returned to training this week, whilst Kortney Hause and Leon Bailey remain sidelined.

Gerrard may have opted for Nakamba last game due to the formidable attacking threat posed by Liverpool. Against Palace, a more forward-thinking selection of his own is likely. Following on from his permanent move to the midlands in the week, Philippe Coutinho is expected to start – whether Emi Buendia is afforded room in the XI remains to be seen.

Much relies on the availability of Watkins. If he misses, Danny Ings flanked by Coutinho and Buendia on the left and right respectively would be a mouth-watering offense.

Possible starting line-up: Martinez, Digne, Konsa, Mings, Cash, Ramsey, McGinn, Luiz, Coutinho, Ings, Buendia

Crystal Place Team News

Similar to Watkins, Guehi was subbed off with ankle trouble last week and will be a late assessment.

Goalkeeper Vicente Guaita is a major doubt following an injury last game, and Nathan Ferguson is a long-term absentee.

Possible starting line-up: Butland, Clyne, Anderson, Tomkins, Mitchell, Gallagher, Hughes, Zaha, Eze, Olise, Edouard

Opposition Breakdown

Crystal Palace have coped admirably with the significant change in style over the summer. Moving on from Roy Hodgson’s time at the club, Vieira wanted an influx of creativity moving forward.

In the loan signing of Connor Gallagher, as well as in Michael Olise, Palace can cause problems for any team when in full flow.

In their last meeting with Villa, Place enjoyed one of their highest possession percentages of the season – 63%. Whilst the Eagles are a team fond of possession, their optimum rate of having the ball is between 50-60% of the game.

Resulting from their rapid, dynamic nature in attack, it’s no surprise that Palace favors dribbling and passing through opponents. In games in which they’ve won this season, progressive carries from the team have been a key factor. From defence, Anderson and Guehi often begin attacks by stepping out of the defensive line with the ball. Either by playing it into the feet of an attacker or by pushing forward on the attack themselves, Palace’s game plan is often reliant on the on-ball abilities of their centre-backs.

To counteract this, the hard-working Buendia could play a critical part in allowing limited time on the ball for Palace’s defenders. If fit, Watkins plays an important role in this too.

Head to Head Record

Villa 21 wins, 14 draws, Place 13 wins

Last Five Meetings

27th November 2021: CP 1-2 AV

16th May 2021: CP 3-2 AV

26th December 2020: AV 3-0 CP

12th July 2020: AV 2-0 CP

31st August 2019: CP 1-0 AV

Avillafan Match Prediction

Villa knows a win against such similar placed opposition places them in the driving seat for a top-half finish.

Palace equally knows how far a win today goes.

Both teams will be on the hunt for three points, though I back Villa to get the job done in front of the home crowd.

Aston Villa 2-1 Crystal Palace

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