Seventh-placed Aston Villa are all set to square up against relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest as they look to keep their six-match unbeaten league run intact.

Nottingham Forest will hit the road to square up against Aston Villa on Saturday as they look to survive in the Premier League. The Tricky Trees are currently 17th in the league and they are all set to visit Villa Park in search of three important points to avoid relegation.

Aston Villa are currently seventh in the league with 44 point out of their 29 matches. They are six points behind fifth-placed Tottenham and a win against Nottingham Forest will keep their hopes of a top-five finish alive.

Villa were struggling in the first half of the season, and surviving the English top flight was their priority. However, things have changed a lot since the appointment of Unai Emery as their new manager. The club are inside the top half of the table and are pushing for a European spot.

They are unbeaten in their last six matches and have won five out of those fixtures. They are heading into this fixture on the back of a 2-1 win over Leicester City. Emery’s team have been doing great of late and they will hope to keep it going when they square up against Nottingham Forest.

As far as the visitors are concerned, they are 17th in the league with 27 points out of their 29 matches. Surviving in the English top flight looks difficult for the Tricky Trees given their ongoing form.

They have failed to win any of their last five league matches. And, the visitors have accumulated only two points in their last five league outings. They are heading into this away fixture on the back of a 2-1 loss at the hands of Leeds. And, they will be eager to bounce back as they look to stay in the English top flight.

However, it is not going to be an easy assignment for Steve Cooper’s men. The last time when the two teams met in the league, we witnessed a 1-1 draw. But, a lot of things have changed since and Villa will consider themselves favourites in this encounter. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture and tries to predict the tactics the teams could deploy.

Team News & Tactics

Aston Villa

Unai Emery will be without the services of Philippe Coutinho, Boubacar Kamara, Matty Cash and backup goalkeeper Jed Steer. Apart from them, all others are expected to be available for this fixture.

The Spanish manager is expected to start with the 4-4-2 formation. Argentine World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez will be in goal. With Cash out injured, Ashley Young will be the full-back along with Alex Moreno.

Ezri Konsa will pair up with Tyrone Mings in the centre of the defence. While Jacob Ramsey and Emiliano Buendia will start out wide in the centre of the park. The duo of John McGinn and Douglas Luiz will feature in the central midfield roles.

Leon Bailey will form the front two alongside their star striker Ollie Watkins, who has 11 league goals in the ongoing season.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Martinez; Young, Konsa, Mings, Moreno; Ramsey, McGinn, Luiz, Buendia; Bailey, Watkins

Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest still have quite a few players out due to injury. They will be without Dean Henderson, Chris Wood, Willy Boly, Scott McKenna, Giulian Biancone and Omar Richards for this fixture.

Emmanuel Dennis’s participation in the fixture against Aston Villa is doubtful after he picked up a knock in their last outing against Leeds United. Meanwhile, Serge Aurier and Ryan Yates are also doubtful as the duo have missed their last two matches.

They do have a boost as Taiwo Awoniyi has returned from injury and can make it to the starting XI. Cooper is expected to go ahead with the 4-3-2-1 formation which will allow him to crowd the midfield and try to dictate the pace of the game.

Keylor Navas will start in goal while Neco Williams and Renan Lodi will be the full-backs. Felipe and Moussa Niakhate are expected to once again pair up in the heart of the defence. The three midfielders in front of the back line will be Orel Mangala, Cheikhou Kouyate and Remo Frueler. Mangala and Kouyate will play on either side of the 30-year-old.

Taiwo Awoniyi could start in the XI with still a doubt for this outing. He will be supported by Brennan Johnson. Meanwhile, Morgan Gibbs-White could once again lead the line as a false nine.

Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Navas; Williams, Felipe, Niakhate, Lodi; Mangala, Freuler, Kouyate; Johnson, Awoniyi; Gibbs-White

Key Stats

  • Aston Villa are all set to face Nottingham Forest for the 130th time on Saturday. The visitors have won 38 matches while Villa have won 60 matches.
  • The two teams have played out 31 draws and the most recent was the reverse fixture between the two that ended 1-1.
  • Aston Villa are unbeaten in their last six league games.
  • Nottingham Forest have not managed to keep a clean sheet against Aston Villa in their last ten meetings.
  • Aston Villa have a great record at home, seven out of their 13 league wins have come at Villa Park.

Player to Watch

Ollie Watkins

Watkins has been in red-hot form in the ongoing season, as he has been doing wonders under Unai Emery. And, the Spanish manager will once again bank on his star striker as they look to extend their unbeaten run in the league.

The 27-year-old has 11 goals and five assists in his 28 league outings. He will look to add to it when takes the field against Nottingham Forest. While it might not be that easy, the England international surely has it in him to be the deciding factor in this fixture.


Aston Villa 2-1 Nottingham Forest

Aston Villa have been a different unit under Unai Emery, as they look better while in possession of the ball and have been clinical in front of the goal. Emery’s team are on an unbeaten run in the league, and they are the favourites to win this fixture.

Villa have won four out of their last five league matches. On the other hand, the visitors have not won a match in their last five outings. So it might not be a surprise if they once again fail to be on the right side of the result. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the home team on the back of their recent form.

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