How Villa could line up vs Crystal Palace: Double change, Grealish on bench

Aston Villa travel to Selhurst Park on Sunday as we take on Crystal Palace in our ongoing battle to finish in the top half of the Premier League this season.

Our goalless draw with Everton on Thursday leaves us in 11th place in the standings with 49 points from our 35 games so far this campaign.

READ MORE: Five key talking points as Villa and Everton cancel each other out in goalless draw

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While that is tangible progress given our close scrape with relegation last year, Dean Smith and the players will be desperate to finish in style in these last three games and finish as high as possible.

Meanwhile, Palace have had another solid season under Roy Hodgson and they’ll have similar ambitions when it comes to finishing well, but having lost four of their last five league games, their form is poor coming into this one.

Team News

As far as team news is concerned for Villa, Matty Cash is expected to miss out after sustaining a hamstring injury last time out, and so Ahmed Elmohamady is likely to deputise for him.

Ollie Watkins returns from suspension and will no doubt return to the starting line-up in place of Keinan Davis, while Jack Grealish made his long-awaited comeback from injury in midweek but Smith confirmed after the game that he’s not yet ready to start.

Tyrone Mings took a blow at the death against Everton and so it’s hoped that he can recover fully to feature, while Morgan Sanson remains sidelined by a knee injury.

In turn, it’s a largely familiar line-up for Villa with a couple of tweaks, and it’s hoped that with Watkins leading the line again and Grealish looking to increase his workload, we’ll have enough quality in the final third to get the three points.

At the other end of the pitch, Emiliano Martinez will be looking for his 16th Premier League clean sheet of the season, which will see him surpass Brad Friedel’s previous record for the most clean sheets in a single top-flight campaign for Villa.

Given we’ve kept five clean sheets in our last seven games against Palace in all competitions, this could be the perfect opportunity for the Argentine shot-stopper to make that record his own.

With that in mind, there is still plenty to play for, and Smith will no doubt go with his strongest XI available with Grealish itching to get more than the 20 minutes or so he got against Everton.

Ross Barkley was poor in that outing, and so with his loan spell coming to an end, it remains to be seen if Smith opts to give more playing time and opportunities for experience to Jacob Ramsey who will no doubt want to fill that void in the long run.

Probable Villa line-up: Martinez; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Douglas Luiz Ramsey; Traore, Watkins, El Ghazi.