Aston Villa face Leeds Utd on Friday night as we look to bounce back from the disappointment of our FA Cup exit last time out.
Unai Emery has seen the performance level dip in our last two outings, and although there were still positives to take after battling back against Wolves, the defeat to Stevenage on Sunday was certainly a major setback.
In turn, he’ll be looking for a response from his players and a big improvement in executing his game-plan, as it was only a fortnight ago where spirits were high following our win at Tottenham.
There will be additional absentees for this Premier League encounter though given what transpired on Sunday, and so it remains to be seen how many changes Emery makes to his Villa XI with new signing Alex Moreno also itching to make his debut for the club following his move from Real Betis this week.
Cash, McGinn injury doubts, Moreno could come in for Villa debut
Emi Martinez is set to return to the side after being left out on Sunday, with Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings also coming back in ahead of him in defence.
There’s a doubt over Matty Cash as it stands after he limped off with what appeared to be a groin issue at the weekend, and although he was spotted welcoming Moreno to the club on Wednesday at Bodymoor Heath, it remains to be seen if he was taken off as a precaution or if he is facing a spell on the sidelines.
Ashley Young could therefore start at right-back in his place, while if Moreno is given clearance in time, he will be in an immediate battle with Lucas Digne for a starting berth on the opposite side. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he did come straight in as he’s certainly fully fit and ready to go, but failing that, he should make an appearance off the bench at the very least.
With John McGinn expected to be sidelined with his hamstring injury for a little while longer, Jacob Ramsey could come back in on the right side of midfield after getting important minutes against Stevenage. The 21-year-old returned from an injury of his own to make his comeback last weekend in a big boost for Villa, and so with question marks over Morgan Sanson’s future at the club, it’s unclear if the Frenchman will get a chance to build on his goal last time out.
Boubacar Kamara, Douglas Luiz and Emiliano Buendia could complete the midfield, with Ollie Watkins back in the Villa XI to lead the line.
Emery does have a big decision to make on Leon Bailey in this one though, as the Jamaican international looks like he is really now struggling with a lack of confidence following that late miss against Wolves.
He was poor against Stevenage when he needed something to give himself a boost, and so it could be that Danny Ings partners Watkins, or Emery shuffles his pack and plays one of Buendia or Ramsey further forward and brings in another midfielder.
That could see Moreno play in a more advanced role on the left, or perhaps Sanson is given another run out. Much depends on how much Emery wants to change, and also how much faith and importance he has and places in the strengths Bailey adds to the team with his pace, direct running and speed in transition, and so he could decide to stick with him and hope for a turnaround.
We’ll know more on the injury situation when Emery speaks to the media on Thursday, but here is how Villa could potentially line up against Leeds: