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Villama Preview: Aston Villa v Crystal Palace

Following Aston Villa’s 2-0 win over Everton, Unai Emery’s Villans welcome Crystal Palace to Villa Park. Can Ollie Watkins keep up his form against a draw-happy Eagles crew?

The build-up...

With a 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park wiping away the stink of a three game losing streak, things are looking up as Aston Villa welcome Crystal Palace to Villa Park this weekend.

The Eagles are having an odd time lately, not losing too many, but not winning anything either. They haven’t won a match since New Year’s Eve of last year. They last lost, 2-1 at Manchester United on February 4th. Aside from that, it’s all draws going back to January. The last three featured draws to Liverpool (0-0), at Brentford (1-1), and at Selhurst Park against Brighton and Hove Albion (1-1).

Players to look out for include midfielder Cheick Doucoure, center-back Joachim Andersen, and attacking midfielder Michael Olise. Wilfried Zaha has missed Palace’s last four matches, however, he is expected to be included in the matchday squad and will surely play a key role for the visitors at Villa Park.

Last time we met at Villa Park...

With Villa Park filled with fans paying tribute to Aston Villa’s glorious European Cup victory of 1982, honours were left even on the pitch as a late goal from Crystal Palace’s Jeffrey Schlupp spoiled proceedings.

The line-up...

For Villa this week, things shouldn’t be too different than last week, with an exception or two. Emi Martinez will return in goal, flanked by Lucas Digne to his left and Matty Cash to his right. I’d like to see Alex Moreno at left-back, but I think Unai Emery stays consistent with Digne. Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konza will partner at center-back, with Diego Carlos still several weeks away with injury.

Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz will hold down the midfield, flanked by John McGinn to the right and presumably Jacob Ramsey to the left. I say presumably because who plays on the left in midfield has a lot to do with who partners with Ollie Watkins up front. If Emery plays Leon Bailey (or Bertrand Traore or Jhon Duran for that matter) alongside Watkins, then you need to find a spot for Emi Buendia. In that scenario, we’d see Buendia play on the left rather than Ramsey. All that being said, I think we see Emi alongside Watkins. I’d still like to see Bertrand Traore or, when ready, Jhon Duran, but I trust Emery.

Score prediction...

With the win over Everton and the schedule looking a little less daunting, things feel like they’re on the up. This should be a win. However, all those draws from Palace has me a bit skittish. I’m going to say 2-1 to the Villa, but Palace makes it scrappy.

Aston Villa Training Session
Can John McGinn continue his impressive form against a resolute Crystal Palace?
Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images