Aston Villa will look to restore home confidence ahead of the visit from Crystal Palace, who are seeking their first win of 2023.

Unai Emery has changed the course of the season for Aston Villa, who face Crystal Palace next, since arriving at Villa Park. The Spanish manager has brought the best out of the players and instilled a culture of consistency among the group.

Villa have scored in each of the 11 games Emery has managed but only won six times. The Spanish boss had taken on the challenge of steering the club away from the relegation zone. And currently, they sit 10 points clear of the drop zone with a game in hand.

Emery will eye a drastic improvement in their home form as he aims to avoid a third consecutive defeat at Villa Park. The last two came against Manchester City and Arsenal. Villa will come into this game in a confident mood, having dispatched relegation-threatened Everton at Goodison Park after goals from Ollie Watkins and Emiliano Buendia.

Meanwhile, Patrick Vieira will hope the trip to Villa Park finally sees his side secure their first victory of 2023. They have also failed to win any of their last nine games in all competitions. Crystal Palace will also come into this clash with optimism after managing a clean sheet against Liverpool last weekend in their goalless draw.

Palace are also on a three-game winless run on the road, meaning Vieira has plenty of records to correct during this trip to the Midlands. Against Villa, they might feel a bit confident, having defeated them at Selhurst Park earlier in the season.

Vieira will hope his side can take advantage of Villa’s weakness from set pieces. Emery’s men have conceded 15 goals from such situations, while Crystal Palace have scored a league-high 43% of their goals from dead ball scenarios.

Team News & Tactics

Aston Villa

Aston Villa had positive news with the return of defender Diego Carlos to training. However, the Crystal Palace encounter would come too soon for the Brazilian to feature. Meanwhile, Philippe Coutinho has a thigh problem which will see him miss the Palace clash, while Leander Dendoncker and Jed Steer also miss out.

Goalkeeper Robin Olsen is a significant doubt for this clash, although Emiliano Martinez will keep his place between the sticks. Meanwhile, Buendia will hope his goal against Everton makes him a contender to start against Palace in place of Leon Bailey or Jacob Ramsey. But the duo will keep their places.

Watkins became the first Aston Villa player to score in five consecutive Premier League games. He will continue to lead the line alongside Bailey. Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz will retain their central midfield partnership.

As Carlos inches closer to full fitness, Emery will keep faith in the central defence partnership between Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings. Lucas Digne and Matty Cash will continue in their customary full-back roles as Villa hopes to stop the Palace attackers in their tracks.

Probable lineup (4-4-2):ย Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Kamara, Luiz, Ramsey; Watkins, Bailey

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace got boosted by the return of Wilfried Zaha to full training. Vieira insisted the attacker had been training for two weeks and did not miss any days in the current period. While there could be some scepticism about his involvement from the start, the Ivory Coast international could make the matchday squad.

Other than Zaha, only Nathan Ferguson and Sam Johnstone are missing from action. As for his selections, Patrick Vieira could make a few changes to his lineup to improve the numbers. Palace failed to register a single shot on target against Liverpool, and the manager will focus on improving such stats.

Hence, the idea of Odsonne Edouard and Eberechi Eze making the lineup are high. They could come in places of Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jeffrey Schlupp. Meanwhile, Joel Ward could replace Nathaniel Clyne at right-back. The other members of the backline will keep their places.

Albert Sambi Lokonga will continue to start in central midfield alongside Cheick Doucoure. Michael Olise and Jordan Ayew will form the attacking setup alongside Eberechi Eze, with Edouard leading the line for Palace.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1):ย Guaita; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Doucoure, Lokonga; Olise, Ayew, Eze; Edouard

Key Stats

  • Aston Villa are unbeaten in their last five home matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
  • Aston Villa have scored in each of the 11 games managed by Unai Emery this season.
  • Aston Villa have conceded 15 goals from set pieces, only behind Bournemouth with 19.
  • Crystal Palace have scored a league-high 43% of their goals (9/21) from set pieces this season.
  • Crystal Palace have drawn five of their last six matches in the Premier League.

Player to Watch

Ollie Watkins

After a redundant period under the management of Steven Gerrard, Watkins has sprung to life under Emery. He made history by becoming the first Aston Villa player to score in five consecutive Premier League games. He will hope to continue that streak against Crystal Palace and help Aston Villa secure a top-half finish.

Watkins is by far Villa’s most improved player since Emery’s arrival. Against Palace, he will have a massive task to manoeuvre past Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi, two of the league’s physical defenders. Yet, the striker will come into this game full of confidence, and the spotlight firmly settled above his head.


Aston Villa 2-1 Crystal Palace

Aston Villa have shown resilience and mental strength after returning from defeats to Manchester City and Arsenal. Their win away to Everton will boost their confidence. But Unai Emery knows the difficulties with Crystal Palace. Yet, the Spanish boss will target a win and rely on his in-form striker Ollie Watkins.

Palace are under increasing pressure with each passing matchday as they search for their first win in 2023. Going by their terrible away form, Vieira might have to continue waiting for a positive result, as Villa could take all three points on Saturday.

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