Aston Villa aim to close the season positively as they host fellow mid-table battlers Crystal Palace, seeking their third consecutive league win.

Steven Gerrard will hope to close out the current season positively as the manager looks to achieve favourable results in their last three games. It seems like a busy week for Aston Villa as they face Crystal Palace and Burnley in quick succession while ending the league against Manchester City next Sunday, hoping to impact the title race on the last day.

There was a point a while back when Aston Villa were somewhat dragged near the relegation zone after a few bad results. After collecting seven points in three games against Leicester City, Norwich and Burnley, the Villans pulled away towards safety and remain well clear of the drop zone with 43 points on board.

Their target of finishing in the top half remains a possibility, as they sit four points off ninth-placed Brighton. Their opponents on Sunday, Crystal Palace remain a point and a place ahead, and a win over the Londoners will take Aston Villa in front.

Crystal Palace have similar ambitions to finish in the top half, as Patrick Vieira has three games this week to get the job done. The Londoners’ highest finish in the Premier League has been tenth, and closing the season in ninth or higher would make this season a success.

Palace have been brilliant in some phases of the season and equally awful in parts, with their inconsistencies holding them back. The manager will seek to achieve a balance in the coming season that makes them a tough side.

Their away record is a reminiscence of their overall form, as Crystal Palace have managed 18 points from 17 games on the road this season. The target would be to move level on points with Brighton, who are in ninth and three points ahead. However, the Eagles have not managed to win away at Villa since December 2013, a run Vieira will be keen on ending.

Team News & Tactics

Aston Villa

There are multiple issues in the Villa squad with regard to injuries and fitness. Ollie Watkins is a doubt after Steven Gerrard confirmed the striker hasn’t trained since the Liverpool game. He hopes to see the forward in training on Saturday and remains positive about involving him.

Jacob Ramsey is also back in training, and he could be involved on Sunday. Whether it is from the start or off the bench remains a question. Emiliano Buendia had picked up a knock in training, but the attacking midfielder has since returned to training and should be available.

Leon Bailey and Kortney Hause are certainly out of the contest as they are not fit to feature. With the rest of the players, Gerrard still can field a strong squad. If Ramsey is available, he could play on the left side of the three-man central midfield, with Douglas Luiz taking over the holding role.

Gerrard could field Philippe Coutinho and Buendia behind sole striker Danny Ings leading the line in the potential absence of Watkins. Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings are expected to form the central defensive partnership.

Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Martinez; Cash; Konsa, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Coutinho, Buendia; Ings

Crystal Palace

There are concerns in the Crystal Palace squad, with Marc Guehi headlining the potential absentees. The centre-back was taken off against Watford and while there have not been confirmations of any problems, the defender could be a doubt for the Villa clash.

James Tomkins or Joel Ward could slot in his place in central defence and partner Joachim Andersen. There are also concerns with Vicente Guaita, who remains a major doubt for this clash. Patrick Vieira may not risk the keeper and start with Jack Butland in goal.

Vieira could look to field a midfield three consisting of Will Hughes, Jeffrey Schlupp and Conor Gallagher. The manager has other options in Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur and Cheikhou Kouyate, who could all be part of the bench.

Wilfried Zaha will continue to be the leader of the attacking lineup, starting on the left, with Michael Olise on the right side of the front three. Vieira will have to decide on his leading striker, with Odsonne Edouard and Jean-Phillipe Mateta considered for the role.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Butland; Clyne, Andersen, Tomkins, Mitchell; Gallagher, Hughes, Schlupp; Olise, Edouard, Zaha

Key Stats

  • Aston Villa have kept a clean sheet in their last four home matches against Crystal Palace across all competitions.
  • Aston Villa have won their last three home matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
  • Aston Villa have scored at least two goals in their last four matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
  • Crystal Palace have not won a game against Aston Villa away from home since December 2013.
  • Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last three Premier League games.

Player To Watch

Philippe Coutinho

The Brazilian has had a mixed time since joining the club in January, despite making some notable contributions in big games. His overall performances were deemed enough by Aston Villa to invest in a permanent transfer from Barcelona for €20 million.

Now it is time for the Brazilian to repay the faith shown by the club and put in some consistent performances. With the season almost done for Aston Villa, Coutinho should take advantage of the minimal pressure and put his best foot forward in the remaining games.


Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace

Villa did well against Liverpool, only to see Sadio Mane snatch the winner in the second half. Steven Gerrard will take the defensive performance positively and hope to carry the spirit forward into the Crystal Palace game. The Eagles come into this clash on superior form with Patrick Vieira eyeing a third straight league victory.

Villa may be in a less favourable form compared to their visitors, although these are equally matched teams. Expect this game to end in an entertaining draw, with both sides likely to score at least once.

Comments 1

  1. Colin says:

    Personally I would go for a Villa win, I don’t see a draw being the result

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