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Preview: Villa set for clash with struggling Sunderland

Aston Villa and Sunderland both put up a bunch of goals in the Capital One Cup this week, so they’re bound for a 0-0 draw, yeah?

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

If the sheer mention of Aston Villa v. Sunderland doesn’t get you excited for goals, maybe this will:

Villa scored five goals Tuesday night, Sunderland six.

But they both conceded three to a League Two side.

Get your alcohol ready. It’s gonna be a dull 0-0.

What to know about Villa

Adama might be fit! Jack Grealish is back and working! Scott Sinclair is suddenly super good!

While Sinclair’s hat trick stole the headlines, Grealish’s 120 minutes against his former club Tuesday night may have been the best performance put in by anyone in a Villa shirt this season. He was the perfect playmaker — even against lesser opposition — setting up his teammates perfectly on two occasions. Even with the mileage he’s put on his legs this week, he’ll be a lock for the XI tomorrow.

Sinclair is a little less so. I think every Villa fan would agree they’d like to see him slot in for Gabby Agbonlahor on the pitch tomorrow, but we’ll have to see what Tim Sherwood thinks.

Kevin Hughes, who writes for ESPNFC’s Villa blog, did a really good piece on the merits of moving Sinclair to the striker role, which is something I wholeheartedly agree with.

The biggest concern for Villa, however, might be a bug that’s been going around Bodymoor Heath. Sherwood wouldn’t name specific players, but if any first-team starters are out due to sickness, it’ll be a big blow — especially if it’s Micah Richards or Ciaran Clark at centre back.

What to know about Sunderland

Three words to surmise their season so far?

Not great, Bob.

They just… aren’t very good. They’ve conceded eight goals in the league, and another three to Exeter City on Tuesday, and have just a singular point they picked up last week against Swansea City.

The Black Cats defended poorly against Leicester City on the opening day in a 4-2 loss, and defended equally poorly at home the next week against Norwith City in a 3-1 defeat. Dick Advocaat really doesn’t look like he knows what he’s doing, and the sub-par squad up there really isn’t scraping by at the moment.

As is the case with old dudes who play striker against Villa though, Jermain Defoe is probably the focal point for Villa. They’ll have opportunities to score, but shutting down a Sunderland attack that’s been alright could prove to be the Claret and Blues’ key to victory tomorrow.

We did a Q&A with a Sunderland blogger, so check that out for more on our opponents.

The odds

Bovada: Villa 4/5, Sunderland 18/5, Draw 51/20
Paddy Power: Villa 10/11, Sunderland 7/2, Draw 23/10
SkyBet: Villa 10/11, Sunderland 16/5, Draw 23/10

The prediction

This is a pretty important fixture for Villa, all things considered. If the Claret and Blues don’t get the three points, their easy start to the season suddenly becomes a glaring missed opportunity; Sunderland have been the worst side in the Premier League — the low odds on Villa winning reflect that. Failure to win means you’re chasing points for another few months.

I think / hope Scott Sinclair starts, and I think / hope he scores a brace tomorrow. Grealish grabs one too. Villa get the job done.

Villa 3, Sunderland 1.