Aston Villa return to action on Saturday as we host Leicester City, and we’ll be aiming to maintain our impressive Premier League form under Unai Emery.
With five wins in seven league outings, and having collected 16 points from a possible 21 as well as going unbeaten in our last four, Villa are building momentum as we continue to look up the standings.
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However, after the break last weekend, it’s hoped that momentum hasn’t been disrupted, and as we continue to try to close the gap on the European qualification spots, it’s vital that we pick up from where we left off against Southampton.
While Villa added Jhon Duran to the squad along with Alex Moreno, we also saw seven exits in total as some concern has been raised in some quarters over the lack of depth that Emery potentially could now have an issue with.
Nevertheless, those who departed were all struggling with limited roles, and so it’s hoped that having had positive news on the injury front this week, we’ll have more than enough quality and options available to get the desired outcome this weekend.
Villa unchanged, boost for the bench
The expectation at this stage is that Villa will be unchanged from the side that defeated Southampton, unless there are of course any late injury setbacks in training ahead of Saturday.
Emi Martinez will remain between the posts, with a backline consisting of Ashley Young, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Alex Moreno ahead of him.
Young has continued to impress in place of Matty Cash and looks to arguably be a better fit for what Emery demands of his right-back, while Moreno has impressed in his first two appearances for the club. While Lucas Digne has returned to group training after his injury against Leeds Utd, the Spaniard has surely done enough to keep his spot.
Jacob Ramsey returned from his own injury blow last time out in his first start since recovering, and he is likely to be given the nod on the right side again, with Douglas Luiz, Boubacar Kamara and Emi Buendia forming the rest of the midfield.
That leaves Leon Bailey available to start up front alongside Ollie Watkins, and we’ll see how that fares against Leicester’s defence with possible options on the bench.
John McGinn was also seen in group training this week and is expected to be available albeit lacking match fitness having not played since New Year’s Day, while new signing Duran will have been busy settling in and adapting to his new environment over the past week or so as he awaits his first Premier League appearance.
The Colombian youngster gives us an important different dynamic in the final third given his characteristics and strengths, and so time will tell if we need him against Leicester, or if Emery looks to gradually integrate him and bed him into the XI. The ideal scenario would of course be that we’re in a comfortable enough position to at least give him some minutes in the latter stages.
After his loan recall, Bertrand Traore is still recovering from his own injury and will hopefully return later in the month, and with Diego Carlos the only other notable absentee, Villa look to be in a good shape heading into the weekend.
Naturally, we’ll know more for certain when Emery speaks to the media on Friday and provides updates, but it will hopefully be a positive and winning return for Villa on Saturday as we try to build on the solid work done already under the Spaniard.