Aston Villa will face Manchester City on Wednesday evening in a fixture that could not come at a more poignant time.
The game will take place just meters away from a statue of William McGregor - as a founding member of the football league face a club looking to tear it apart through arrogance and greed.
Usually, these previews look into the opposition and break down both their strengths and weaknesses, however, with ‘Man Blue’ looking to take over media action surrounding football, this piece will instead aim to focus on a football club full of integrity, heritage, and passion; that being Aston Villa.
This article will focus on some key Villa stats ahead of the game and reasons as to why Villa fans should be optimistic ahead of the match.
Let’s look at the stats
Going into the final stretch of the season, Villa’s key focus will be trying to find a way of playing without Jack Grealish.
The graph below shows just how hard Villa have found life without their talisman.
The start of the graph shows just how well Villa managed to start the campaign with them consistently outperforming their opponents in terms of expected goals.
Since Grealish’s injury, Villa have continually been outperformed by their opponents with the Villans only winning two games without their captain.
The loss of Grealish would be felt by any team in the world, with the midfielder having some of the most incredible stats in the Premier League this season.
Grealish is currently leading the way in terms of goal creating actions, progressive carries, carries into the penalty area, and fouls drawn.
Dean Smith has looked to Anwar El Ghazi to fill in for Jack Grealish, but the Dutch winger has struggled to find a spell of consistent performances.
Despite this, an interesting stat for the winger shows that he has completed more shots on target per 90 than anyone else in the league (1.81).
At the other end of the pitch, Villa have arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the league in the form of the ever present, Emi Martinez.
Since making a surprising transfer from Arsenal to Aston Villa, Martinez has gone on to achieve 14 clean sheets, second only to Ederson.
With a clean sheet percentage of 46.7%, Villa have earned a lot of points thanks to the Argentine’s performances in goal.
Martinez is currently leading the way in terms of save percentage (78.4%) and post shot expected goals minus goals against (+8.6).
This second stat tells us how many goals a goalkeeper has conceded against how many you would expect them to conceded based on the quality of the shots they have faced. The figure +8.6 tells us that Martinez has managed to prevent an impressive 8.6 goals compared to what you would expect.
This is a big reason why Aston Villa have an impressive goal difference of +10.
If Martinez can perform to his highest level, seen away to Brighton, it will set Villa up perfectly for a shock result.
Villa are currently averaging 22.27 shot creating actions per game this season as they look to build on the solid foundation of their defense. This figure is the fifth highest in the Premier League this season.
Who do you think should start for Aston Villa this week? Fill in the form below and we will announce a starting XI prior to kick-off!