Aston Villa will aim to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to seven games when they make the trip to face Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Sunday.

Nottingham Forest will welcome Unai Emery’s Aston Villa to the City Ground on Sunday afternoon as they look to end a winless run in the Premier League.

A 3-0 defeat against Liverpool last time out means that they have gone six games without picking up maximum points. Nottingham Forest find themselves sitting in 16th place on ten points after ten matches played.

After escaping relegation in their first season back in the top flight in 23 years, Nottingham Forest fans may be starting to worry that their club may have fallen prey to second-season syndrome as they are totally in free-fall after a bright start to the campaign.

The hosts are in desperate need of a lift after a rotten run of form. Their home form last season was one of the major reasons they stayed in the Premier League. It is not as good this term, but they are still unbeaten at City Ground thus far (W1 D3). So this surely will be no cakewalk for the high-flying visitors.

Aston Villa, meanwhile, have not looked back since suffering a heavy 5-1 defeat at Newcastle United on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, winning at Chelsea and Burnley while also claiming a good point at Wolves.

Unai Emery’s side earned their twelfth home top-flight victory in a row with a 3-1 win over Luton Town last time out, climbing to fifth place with 22 points. The Villans have made their best start to a season in 25 years, and fans are now daring to dream of lining up in the Champions League next season.

Villa will look to build on the growing feel-good factor around the club by picking up another three points at the expense of Forest this weekend.

Team News and Tactics

Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper has a number of injury worries ahead of the visit of Aston Villa, including winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is set to spend a lengthy period on the sidelines after pulling his hamstring in the build-up to the game against Luton Town a few weekends ago.

The former Chelsea man will be joined in the treatment room by Divock Origi (hip), Danilo (thigh), Felipe (knee), and Gonzalo Montiel (calf). But Taiwo Awoniyi could make a timely return to the starting XI for Forest here after making his return from a groin injury as a substitute in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, just as fellow striker Chris Wood began his own spell out with a hamstring problem.

21-year-old Swedish winger Anthony Elanga, who has five assists in his last eight home Premier League starts, including two last time out at City Ground against Luton, will support Awoniyi up front. Morgan Gibbs-White is the main offensive force for the hosts and will be looking to create plenty of chances for the attacker in transitional moments with his playmaking excellence.

Cooper is likely to revert to a back four comprising Serge Aurier, Murillo, Moussa Niakhate, and Ola Aina, with Ibrahim Sangare, Orel Mangala, and Nicolas Dominguez forming the midfield trio in the engine room.

Given his costly blunders in recent weeks, questions could soon be asked of Matt Turner’s position as number one in between the sticks, with backup Odysseas Vlachodimos waiting in the wings for his first Premier League start since arriving from Benfica over the summer.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Turner; Aurier, Murillo, Niakhate, Aina; Sangare, Mangala, Dominguez; Gibbs-White; Awoniyi, Elanga

Aston Villa

Although Aston Villa have no fresh injury concerns following their 3-1 win against Luton Town last weekend, manager Unai Emery still has a lengthy injury absentee list.

Jacob Ramsey is still out, with no return date yet set after he was injured during the 6-1 win over Brighton back in September. Emiliano Buendía and Tyrone Mings are the other long-term absentees and won’t be expected back in action until the new year.

The good news is that left-back Alex Moreno is finally back in full training after recovering from a serious hamstring injury. But Sunday’s game will surely be too soon for a start. The same goes for young midfielder Tim Iroegbunam and Jhon Duran, both of whom will take their place on the bench.

Head coach Unai Emery will again look to stick with the starting XI that has been such a success so far this season. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will play his first match since landing the Yashin Trophy following his FIFA World Cup final heroics for Argentina in Qatar.

Ezri Konsa will continue to play alongside Pau Torres at the centre of the Aston Villa backline, flanked by Lucas Digne and Matty Cash. Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara will once again hold the fort in the middle of the park, with John McGinn and Leon Bailey serving as wide midfielders.

In the attack, there is no taking out Ollie Watkins in the form that he is in currently. Moussa Diaby, who joined Aston Villa from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer, has been involved in six goals across ten Premier League appearances so far and will be looking to continue his electric form.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne; McGinn, Kamara, Luiz, Bailey; Diaby, Watkins

Key Stats

  • Aston Villa have won five of their last six Premier League matches.
  • Nottingham Forest have failed to win their last six Premier League matches.
  • High-flying Villa have scored a joint Premier League-high 26 goals after 10 matches.
  • Nine of Aston Villa’s last 11 matches have featured at least three goals.
  • Forest have conceded more than one goal in a match only once in their five fixtures at home this season.

Player to Watch

Ollie Watkins

Embed from Getty Images

Ollie Watkins is doing everything in his power to impress England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of next summer’s European Championships, and an in-form Villa strike can make a telling impact at Forest.

The 27-year-old is a huge threat to any side that comes up against him this season due to his prolific goalscoring form, having already bagged nine goals in 16 appearances in all competitions this season, including five Premier League strikes.


Nottingham Forest 1-2 Aston Villa

It is likely that a confident Aston Villa are going to dictate the tempo of this game. Unai Emery’s men are netting freely. But they have managed only two clean sheets in the league this season, suggesting the goalscoring chances could come for Forest on the counter-attack.

While City Ground has been a fortress since Nottingham Forest’s promotion to the Premier League last season, they have failed to overcome Burnley, Brentford, and Luton in their previous three league games at home. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle backs Aston Villa to pocket another three points on Sunday.

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