By Sunil Salh (@SunnySalh98)
Like myself I’m sure every Villa fan reading this is still reeling from the Diego Carlos injury that likely rules him out for the rest of the season. Hause has been back in training this week but looks set to seal a move to Watford so can’t see him stepping in. Until Villa dip into the transfer market to replace the hole left by Carlos, Callum Chambers is the man who should be tasked with filling that void. He was immense in pre-season and has been hard done by not start any of our opening two league games. His ability on the ball and surprising flair in the final third gives him the edge ahead of Konsa for me. Excluding Carlos, Villa have an almost full strength side going into the game away at Selhurst Park on Saturday. The only other change I can see has to be the introduction of Emi Beundia from the start. Coutinho hasn’t been at it for a while. 1 goal contribution in 13 says it all and he drifted through the game last week for large parts. The sight of a magical Emi Buendia substitute appearance is becoming far too common. It’s time for Gerrard to give him 4 or 5 starts on the bounce to show his quality. He just looks hungrier then Coutinho at the moment.
Villa held on for a much needed 3 points in B6 last Saturday, bouncing back from the opening day debacle that was Bournemouth. The less said about that one the better. It’s back on the road again Saturday against a Palace said fresh off a 1-1 draw at Anfield looking for their first 3 points of the campaign.
Selhurst park hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Villa. 5 defeats in our last 7 trips doesn’t make for great reading and I think Saturday will give us a real indication of where this side are at. The width of Palace is something we have to be wary of, especially if we play the narrow 4-3-1-2 system. Palace will look to double up on our full backs out wide with Clyne and Mitchell pushing forward and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen. Eze looks to be back to his magical best and pressure will be on Kamara to try and nullify the tricky playmaker.
Ings and Watkins against a Palace back two could cause real problems. Watkins runs the channels superbly and if he can stretch the back line and open up space for Buendia and Ings to move into I can see us having some joy. Having two up top to press Andersen and stop his ability to dictate play via his trademark diagonals could prove crucial to securing 3 points. Schlupp in the middle of the park is an area Villa should be exploiting. A left back by trade he’s someone we can get at and with McGinn, Kamara and Ramsey the quality is there to control the game centrally and quiet down what will be a rowdy Selhurst Park.
Additionally Set- pieces an area Villa have to be far better at. We saw little improvement in our ability to deal with dead balls against Everton. Every ball into the box led to a game of pinball, and not the fun kind you see in arcades. With powerful CB’s like Guehi and Andersen Villa have to be stronger in the box or we will be punished. In terms of prediction I think Villa will need to up the levels on Saturday. Palace will be hungry to kickstart their season after tough tests against Arsenal and Liverpool. This is one of the few occasions in life where I’d gladly be wrong but i can see a 1-1 draw. Villa still look undercooked for me and I can see an even game where both sides dominate for spells but neither takes 3 points.