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Villama Preview: Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa

Off the heels of one point and a zero-zero draw at Leeds, Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa travel to take on a newly contracted Steve Cooper and Nottingham Forest. Will we see three men at the back, or will the narrow 4-3-3 be the order of the day?

While the point at Leeds is better than none at all, you can’t help but feel a little disappointed with leaving the other two points at Elland Road. Another one of those matches comes up Monday against Nottingham Forest. Sitting last in the table, Forest have most recently lost 4-0 at Leicester City, with a 2-3 home loss to Fulham prior to that, and a 2-3 home loss to Bournemouth to round things out. They’re not very good. Players to look out for include midfielder Jesse Lingard, midfielder Lewis O’Brien, and and right-back Neco Williams.

For Aston Villa this week, there have been murmurs of a three man backfield and, wile I enjoy the idea, I do worry about depth. I have in mind something that looks not terribly unlike a 4-4-2 diamond, but with Leander Dendoncker or Calum Chambers playing a sort of hybrid center back-holding midfielder role. Ashley Young would play left wingback with Matty Cash on the right, Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konza flank Dendoncker/Chambers and Emi Martinez starts in goal. The midfield consists of Douglas Luis and John McGinn with Emi Buendia playing 10. Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings partner at striker. All that said, I’m not confident Villa have the defensive depth to play three at the back when center-backs aren’t growing on trees. The format Gerrard seems most comfortable with will likely be the formation for Monday, a 4-3-3 variation. Martinez starts at goal with Young and Cash playing left and right fullbacks with Mings and Konza partnering at center back. In the midfield is where I might tinker a bit. I’d like to see Jacob Ramsey slot in Philippe Coutinho’s regular spot on the left, leaving an open position in midfield. Playing Dendoncker at 6 and moving Douglas Luiz alongside John McGinn further up could be interesting. You run into similar depth problems with a shortage of holding mids at the moment, but I’d like to see it given a chance. It’s more likely you see Dougie at holding with McGinn and Ramsey. While my preference up front would be a Ramsey, Ollie Watkins, and Emi Buendia trio, Gerrard seems more likely to opt for Coutinho on the left and likely but not certainly Leon Bailey on the right. Maybe play Bailey on the left and Emi on the right? I’d like to see that.

: This is a game that Villa should win, whether it be home, away, or neutral. Given boost of a new contract with Steve Cooper, it could provide a bit of a bounce for the last place club, but Aston Villa should persevere. 2-1 to the Villa.

Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa - Premier League
Can Villa make it a memorable away day against a struggling Nottingham Forest side?
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images