The loss to Tottenham Hotspur wasn’t unexpected, but the 4-0 drubbing arguably was. Moving on to this week, Aston Villa face off against Leicester City and the presumption is another tough match. The Foxes currently sit 9th in the table compared to Villa’s 15th, though Villa won the prior outing 2-1 on December 5th. The previous three matches for Leicester included a win at home (2-1) over Crystal Palace, a loss at Newcastle (2-1), and a draw at Everton (1-1). Players to look out for include Youri Tielemans in central midfield, and James Maddison and Harvey Barnes in attacking midfield. Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi are the notable names of those sitting out for Leicester this weekend.
FLASHBACK: It was an extremely tight and competitive match at the King Power Stadium last season, with loanee, Ross Barkley, snatching all three points for the Villans in the 90th minute of the match.
Villa’s lineup this week is something of a tough call. The presumption is that Villa keep with a three man midfield, with either a 4-3-2-1 or the 4-4-2 diamond. The Christmas Tree, or 4-3-2-1, is the most likely, though I’d like to see a 4-3-3 myself. Emi Martinez will reprise his role guarding the net, flanked by Ashley Young to his left (Lucas Digne is out) and Matty Cash to his right. Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konza should partner at center-back, though I wouldn’t be shocked to see Calum Chambers given another chance before the season ends. In midfield is where decisions need to be made as Marvelous Nakamba almost certainly starts, anchoring for John McGinn and either Jacob Ramsey or Douglas Luiz. This has knock on effects further up front, as it looks to be Ollie Watkins at striker, with Philippe Coutinho on his left and either Emi Buendia or Jacob Ramsey to his right. My preference would be to play Ramsey in the midfield and Buendia further forward on the right, though it is harsh to Luiz.
PREDICTION: I feel a little hesitant about this match, but nowhere near the doom and gloom preceding the Spurs loss. The team have had ample time to go over things, Marvelous Nakamba’s return is huge, and Villa have already beaten this team this season. In a bit of a pleasant surprise, I can see Villa scraping out a 1-1 draw at the King Power.