MX23RW : Monday, July 26 05:22:38| >> :120:23353:23353:
Apr 9, 2016 at 3pm UK at Villa Park
Attendance: 31,057
Aston Villa
Ayew (85')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Cook (45'), King (74')

Preview: Aston Villa vs. Bournemouth

Sports Mole looks ahead to relegation-threatened Aston Villa's home Premier League encounter against Bournemouth.

Two sides that were on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline last weekend will clash at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon.

However, while it has been a miserable campaign overall for hosting Aston Villa, visiting Bournemouth have defied the pre-season doubters. They may not be mathematically safe just yet, but it appears to be only a matter of time.


Aston Villa players look dejected during the Premier League game between Aston Villa and Everton on March 1, 2016© Getty Images

When Villa made the trip to Dean Court on the opening day of the season, all appeared to be right in their world.

A powerful header from summer signing Rudy Gestede handed Tim Sherwood's men all three points at the expense of newly-promoted Bournemouth.

However, just two more victories have been collected since then, leaving a once-proud club rooted firmly to the bottom and simply waiting for their inevitable relegation to be confirmed.

In fact, the misery for Villa fans could well come to an end this weekend. If the Villans beat the Cherries for a second time this term, the agony will be prolonged for another week. But, failure to win leaves Villa's fate in the hands of Norwich City.

If Villa lose and the Canaries win or draw away at Crystal Palace, the Birmingham-based outfit's demotion will be rubber-stamped. Likewise, were Villa to draw, a Norwich triumph will be enough to condemn the one-time European champions to English football's second tier for the first time since 1988.

While no supporter wants to see their side relegated, it is likely to be a relief for the Villa faithful. Attention can then turn to finding a new manager to replace interim boss Eric Black, with the experienced David Moyes and Nigel Pearson said to be in the frame.

Recent form: LLLLLL


Eddie Howe looks on prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Bournemouth at Vicarage Road on February 27, 2016© Getty Images

During the most recent international break, Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor created front-page headlines after allegedly being pictured smoking and drinking alcohol.

At the same time, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe had taken his players to the same Middle Eastern city, but there was no chance of them being given any time to let their hair down.

Despite having put an 11-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone with just six matches left to play, the squad spent much of their time in temperatures of minus 110 degrees in specially-adapted chambers, designed to improve fitness levels.

Perhaps the hard work did not show during the 4-0 hammering suffered at the hands of Manchester City - a result that sparked criticism from Alan Shearer, who accused the team of already thinking about their summer holidays in his role as a pundit on Match of the Day.

In a recent interview with the Bournemouth Echo, defender Steve Cook hit back at the Newcastle United legend: "I wish he had come to Dubai to watch us train because it was intense and the standard was very high."

Howe's charges will make the trip to Villa with some decent away form to fall back on. They have won five times on the road, which is the same number recorded by seventh-placed Southampton. Meanwhile, the 18 goals that have been fired in is one more than Manchester City in fourth have managed.

Recent form: DWWWLL

Team News

Gabriel Agbonlahor of Leicester in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Aston Villa on September 13, 2015© Getty Images

Following an internal investigation, the aforementioned Agbonlahor has been cleared to return to his duties with Villa.

Yet, it is likely that interim boss Black will include the striker on the bench, rather than throw him straight back into the starting lineup.

Defender Ciaran Clark is struggling with a calf complaint, while right-back Alan Hutton is banned following the red card that he picked up against Chelsea.

Without Hutton, there is a chance that skipper Micah Richards will revert from a central to a right-back position.

As for the away side, striker Callum Wilson has recently returned to training following a long layoff with a knee complaint, but he will not be ready for this clash.

Fellow striker Benik Afobe is also sidelined with a hamstring problem, while midfielder Harry Arter is regarded as a doubt because of a shin injury.

Villa possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Richards, Clark Lescott, Cissokho; Gueye, Sanchez, Westwood, Grealish; Gestede, Ayew

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Ritchie, O'Kane, Surman, Gradel; Grabban, King

Head To Head

The clash during this season's curtain-raiser marked only the sixth time that these two teams had met.

Villa have won four of those, with Bournemouth's only victory coming in October 1971, which was this fixture's first ever instalment.

The Dugout Podcast

Hit play below to listen to Sports Mole's new podcast 'The Dugout' for our take on the week's biggest football talking points:

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We say: Villa 0-2 Bournemouth

Villa Park is a truly miserable environment right now, which is understandable given the performances that are being served up. More protests are expected and it would be a surprise if Bournemouth did not take full advantage of that. A win could also confirm their safety, so it may well be a triumphant day for the south coast side.

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