Scoring goals has been a problem all season for Aston Villa. Initially, it was somewhat acceptable, because Christian Benteke was still recovering from an injury at the start of the league campaign. Now that he has been back and playing for some time, Villa really should be scoring. Just 11 goals in 20 league games is almost on pace for the worst ever goalscoring record -- shared by Manchester City 95/96 and Derby County 07/08 -- but this is a product of bad luck as well as poor attacking.
The best option for Paul Lambert's side is to try to eliminate luck, or maybe trying to benefit from it, by taking as many shots as possible. Kasper Schmeichel has been solid in goal for the Foxes this season, but is injured. Therefore, manager Nigel Pearson has brought in Mark Schwarzer from Chelsea. Previously third in the pecking order behind Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech, Schwarzer hasn't seen meaningful action in a while. He has been a quality Premier League goalkeeper throughtout his career, but at 42 years old, surely doesn't have a lot left. Villa need to pepper him and try to force a mistake.
Getting more shots away is not necessarily a product of having more forwards on the pitch, as ceding ball possession may mean you create fewer chances. Villa have played a "nice" possession style game the past few matches, seeing a lot of the ball, but haven't looked inventive in the attacking third. They should be able to take the lion's share of possession again here, even a midfielder is sacrificed for a forward in the process.
If there ever was a game for the 4-4-2 to be brought back, this is it. Andi Weimann has struggled, but maybe could offer something if deployed centrally either alongside or right behind Benteke. His best quality has been his willingness to run all over the place. From this role, he could pressure Leicester's central defenders and even the goalkeeper into making a mistake simply because he won't allow them time on the ball.
Fabian Delph is still suspended, but Ashley Westwood made a return in the FA Cup win over Blackpool, and should be back to starting in midfield. Carlos Sánchez will partner him, and this could be seen as one of the stronger areas of the team, with the way the Colombian has been playing lately. Out right I have ran into somewhat of a selection dilemma. While Leandro Bacuna could play here, so could Joe Cole. The problem with Cole is that we know we won't get 90 minutes out of him. He could start, but you know you're going to need to replace him, or you have the option of bringing him on if Villa need a goal around the 60th minute or so. I'd prefer to start him, because if Villa get a goal (or heaven forbid, two goals) then you are able to sub him off for a more defensive minded player. Bacuna also offers more as far as speed goes, and could be useful in the way that he will sprint past tired defenders late on. Or Tom Cleverley could play here. Jack Grealish obviously gets the nod at left midfield.
With Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker, and Philippe Senderos all out, Ciaran Clark will pair Jores Okore at centre back. Unfortunately, this means Chris Herd will probably occupy one of the slots on the bench. Actually maybe it's fortunate, as it could mean that Charles N'Zogbia gets left out of the squad. Aly Cissokho starts at left back. The most important piece of this team is Alan Hutton at right back. The Huttonator needs to get revenge on Jaime Vardy for injuring Ashley Westwood the first time these teams met this year. Even if he gets a red, it shouldn't be a big issue, as Villa are quite used to playing with ten.
Here's the lineup I'd go with:
On the bench: Shay Given, Gabby Agbonlahor, Chris Herd, Matt Lowton, Tom Cleverley, Kieran Richardson, Leandro Bacuna
How would you line up the team if you were Paul Lambert? Let us know in the comments!