Aston Villa’s season continues with the visit of Luton Town to Villa Park on Sunday afternoon, and it’s probably the game they’ll be the biggest favourites for all season long.
Unai Emery’s side are flying high in the Premier League with six wins and only two losses from nine games putting them fifth in the table, just a point shy of Liverpool in fourth.
Last time out in the league, Villa swatted aside David Moyes’ West Ham United 4-1 courtesy of a brace from Douglas Luiz and goals from Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey.
Bailey also starred on Thursday night as Villa emphasised their credentials as favourites to lift the Europa Conference League with a hugely impressive triumph by the same scoreline away at AZ Alkmaar. The Jamaican scored the opener and laid on an assist for John McGinn and an unintentional helper for Watkins when his shot was saved.
Watkins took his tally to nine goals in 15 matches (11 starts) in all competitions on Thursday and he’ll be aiming to score for the fifth time in six league games on Sunday following his red-hot exploits in recent weeks.
Luiz is also hoping to continue his fine form at Villa Park on Sunday after becoming the first Villa player since Dwight Yorke in 1990 to net in six consecutive home games after his brace against the Hammers last weekend.
Villa are hoping to stretch their winning run at Villa Park to 12 matches when the Hatters come to town. Only Manchester City and Atlético Madrid are on longer winning runs in front of their own fans.
No Premier League side have been better on their own turf than Villa this season, with Emery’s side collecting four wins from four, scoring 17 goals and conceding just three in the process. Should they win again on Sunday, Emery’s side could move up to second in the table, depending on other results.
Meanwhile, former Villa player Rob Edwards’ visitors are 17th ahead of the trip to Villa Park and will probably be quietly pleased with their league position, given the gulf in the Hatters’ resources compared to other teams in the division.
Last time out, Luton salvaged a draw with two goals in the final seven minutes of the match against Nottingham Forest, with strikes from Chiedozie Ogbene and Elijah Adebayo earning an improbable 2-2 draw at the City Ground after two efforts from Chris Wood appeared to have sealed the win for Forest.
Town will need similar mental fortitude to get a result away at a Villa side who are oozing with confidence right now. Luton did win their last match against the Birmingham outfit, though, a 3-1 League Cup success in 2016.
A win at Villa Park could lift Luton above Everton into 16th and may give them extra breathing space from the relegation zone.
Alex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey are still out with thigh and ankle injuries, respectively but aside from that pair and long-term absentees Emi Buendia and Tyrone Mings, it’s a clean bill of health.
Emery may opt for the same XI that started against West Ham, although Bailey and Youri Tielemans are pushing for starts after impressing against Akmaar.
Ezri Konsa and Pau Torres will return to the backline after being rested against the Dutch side. Nicolo Zaniolo may also keep his place in the starting lineup with Bailey being used as an impact substitute.
Rob Edwards is without six first-team players for the trip to the Midlands, with Albert Sambi-Lokonga, Amari’i Bell and Mads Andersen sidelined with thigh injuries and Jordan Clark, Dan Potts and Gabriel Osho out with ankle and knee injuries, respectively.
Teden Mengi may partner Tom Lockyer in the Luton defence whilst Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and former Villa man Marvelous Nakamba will provide the protection in front of the back four.
Adebayo and Ogbene will provide support for the lone striker Carlton Morris alongside Jacob Brown in attack.
Aston Villa (4-2-2-2)
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Pau, Digne; Kamara, Luiz; Zaniolo, McGinn; Watkins, Diaby
Luton Town (4-2-3-1)
Kaminski; Kabore, Lockyer, Mengi, Doughty; Nakamba, Mpanzu; Ogbene, Brown, Adebayo; Morris
Given Villa’s imperious home form and the bundles of goals they have scored recently, a comfortable home win should be on the cards, as Luton may struggle to deal with Villa’s firepower despite their trademark stubborn organisation and spirit.
Score Prediction: Aston Villa 4 Luton Town 0