It could very well be Aston Villa’s last shot at survival this Saturday as they face mid-table Crystal Palace, where anything but three points would make their chances of remaining in the Premier League slim at best.
Villa, who are 19th, have failed to win a game since the restart and despite a dogged first half performance against Manchester United on Thursday, succumbed to the full force of Bruno Fernandes and co. after that VAR penalty decision went cruelly against them.
Crystal Palace who are safely sat in 14th, have lost their last four games and despite their forwards returning to form against Chelsea last time out, they are conceding far too many goals, particularly away from home.
When Is Kick Off? Sunday 12 July
What Time Is Kick Off? 14.15 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Villa Park
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports (UK), FuboTV (US)
Referee? Martin Atkinson
Aston Villa are without Tom Heaton and Wesley, as they have been for most of this year through long term knee injuries. Bjorn Engels is close to a return after a lengthy spell on the sidelines however, as is Matt Targett who has been nursing a hamstring problem.
Palace will be without Cenk Tosun, James Tomkins, Jeffrey Schlupp and now Gary Cahill after the former Chelsea defender limped off with a hamstring tear during the match against his old club on Tuesday.
Aston Villa: Reina; Konza, Hause, Mings, Taylor; Al Ghazi, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Trezeguet; Grealish, Samatta.
Crystal Palace: Guaita; Ward, Dann, Sakho, Van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic, Kouyate; Ayew, Benteke, Zaha.
Both these sides have endured a rather wretched return to football.
Villa have just one point from their six games since the return, despite the best efforts of Jack Grealish – who often seems to carry the weight of the club on his shoulders.
Their defensive frailties against Man Utd, Liverpool and Wolves in their last three outings have cost them any sort of foothold in matches, and they missed the chance to grab a vital win in arguably their easiest fixture against Newcastle.
Palace aren’t fairing any better, although they showed great tenacity to fight back against Chelsea last time out. Christian Benteke scored only his second Premier League goal in his last two seasons and provided a glimpse of the Benteke we once saw turning out for Villa way back in 2014.
Defeats to Liverpool, Burnley and Leicester prior to the Chelsea loss paints a pretty bleak picture for the Eagles, however once again they are safe and that is all that is really required from a Palace side at the present time.
Last time these sides met was at Selhurst Park last August; where Crystal Palace capitalised on Trezeguet’s sending off to win 1-0.
Here are both sides’ recent form:
Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United (9/7)
Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa (5/7)
Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves (27/6)
Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa (24/6)
Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea (21/6)
Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea (7/7)
Leicester City 3-0 Crystal Palace (4/7)
Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley (29/6)
Liverpool 4-0 Crystal Palace (24/6)
Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace (20/6)
Villa will know that this is a great opportunity finally get some points on the board – especially with Palace’s key defender, Cahill, out injured.
Zaha looked his most dangerous since the restart against Chelsea and if Villa don’t track him, he could do serious damage to the Villans’ leaky defence. A draw looks the most likely result here, doing little to improve the home sides’ relegation fight.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace