Preview: Aston Villa vs. Hull City

Preview: Villa vs. Hull
© Getty Images
Sports Mole previews the clash between hosting Aston Villa and Hull City as Paul Lambert's men look to secure their Premier League status with a first win in seven.

Aston Villa will feel that they must beat Hull City this weekend to halt a slide down the table that is threatening to end their ever-present Premier League status.

The Midlands outfit, who have played in every season of the competition since its inauguration in 1992, have picked up just one point from their last six games.

This run has seen them slip alarmingly from the top half of the table to only two points above the relegation zone with two matches of the season remaining.

The fact that Villa's final two games are trips to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur puts extra pressure on them to claim maximum points against the Tigers this Saturday to climb clear of trouble.

The FA Cup finalists are not mathematically safe yet themselves, but the five places between them and the bottom three should give Steve Bruce confidence that their pre-season objective has been achieved.

The January signings of Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic have helped Hull move towards survival, and their late goals in the 2-2 draw at Fulham last weekend earned their side what could be a crucial point, particularly considering that it denied the Whites two which would have brought the chasing pack closer.

Long has shaken off a muscle strain picked up earlier this month to maintain his place up front, but Robbie Brady and Paul McShane are long-term absentees and will not feature at Villa Park.

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor will also sit this one out, but is making a quicker-than-expected recovery from the kidney damage suffered against West Ham United, and could yet make Hull's Wembley date next month.

Villa's poor form has coincided with injury to top scorer Christian Benteke, and the Belgian international's six-month layoff with an Achilles problem will see him miss Hull's visit, and the World Cup.

Along with five other senior players, Libor Kozak is also sidelined and so Paul Lambert's lack of forward options may see Gabriel Agbonlahor, who scored for the first time since New Year's Day in the 4-1 loss to Swansea City, deployed through the middle again.

Leandro Bacuna limped off at half time at the Liberty Stadium and is a doubt with a muscle strain, so Matt Lowton is on standby to deputise at right-back, a position he filled for much of last season.

Recent form



Possible starting lineups

Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand; Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi; Albrighton, Weimann, Agbonlahor

Hull: Harper; Rosenior, Bruce, Chester, Davies, Elmohamady; Huddlestone, Livermore, Meyler; Long, Jelavic

Sports Mole says: 0-1

Felix Magath, Manager of Fulham looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Newcastle United at Craven Cottage on March 15, 2014
Read Next:
Preview: Villa vs. Fulham
You May Like
Recomended from Sports Mole

1Wolverhampton WanderersWolves1392224131129
2Cardiff CityCardiff138321810827
3Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd139041811727
4Leeds UnitedLeeds137242112923
5Aston Villa136431913622
6Norwich CityNorwich136431314-122
7Bristol City135622014621
8Preston North EndPreston135621711621
9Derby CountyDerby125431713419
11Ipswich TownIpswich126062018218
12Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest136071721-418
14Hull City134452420416
16Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds134451616016
17Queens Park RangersQPR133641617-115
21Birmingham CityBirmingham13328821-1311
22Burton Albion13247625-1910
24Bolton WanderersBolton13139724-176