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Preview: Aston Villa vs. Crystal Palace - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, including team news and predicted lineups.

Aston Villa welcome Crystal Palace to the West Midlands on Sunday knowing that only a win will do as they fight for their right to play in the Premier League next season.

Meanwhile, Palace realistically have nothing to play for after four successive losses left their already-slim European hopes in tatters.

Match preview

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith pictured on June 17, 2020© Reuters

After trying but failing to overcome newly-crowned Premier League champions Liverpool in their own backyard, Villa had only a few days off to prepare for their next testing fixture against an in-form Manchester United side.

A controversially-awarded Bruno Fernandes penalty opened the floodgates for United to sweep aside relegation-threatened Villa, as further strikes from Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba confirmed a result that many had predicted would occur before the game kicked off.

Furthermore, following Bournemouth's goalless stalemate with Tottenham Hotspur, Villa have now dropped below their relegation rivals in the table and occupy 19th spot with four games left to play.

The battle to rise above the dotted line is far from over, although Watford's victory over bottom-of-the-table Norwich City means that Villa are now four points adrift of safety at this very late stage.

That gap could temporarily be increased to seven points if Watford overcome Newcastle United the day before, and things are looking increasingly ominous for a Villa side that are winless and goalless in their last three outings.

Dean Smith is still looking to guide the relegation candidates to their first win since January, although the visit of Palace possibly represents their most winnable fixture since the Premier League resumed.

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson pictured in June 2020© Reuters

Indeed, Roy Hodgson's men have now suffered four defeats on the bounce in the top flight, although they would have been frustrated to come away from their thrilling London Derby with Chelsea empty-handed in midweek.

The Eagles fought valiantly against the Champions League-chasing Blues but ultimately succumbed to a 3-2 defeat at Selhurst Park, although Chelsea were indebted to a heroic late tackle from Kurt Zouma when Christian Benteke seemed destined to level the scores late on.

Nevertheless, even though Palace managed to end their three-game drought in front of goal on Tuesday, Hodgson's side have slipped down to 14th in the table after taking just three points from 15 on offer following the restart.

Despite the fact that the Eagles are not mathematically safe just yet, a 12-point cushion from the relegation zone with four games remaining means that there is little at stake for Palace in the final stages of the campaign.

Hodgson's side seemed ready to mount a late charge for a top-seven finish following a four-game winning streak before their loss to Liverpool in June, but any European aspirations will sadly not come to fruition for the Palace faithful this season.

A Jordan Ayew winner was enough for Palace to take all three points against Villa in the reverse fixture back in August.

Aston Villa Premier League form: DLDLLL

Crystal Palace Premier League form: WWLLLL

Team News

Matt Targett in action for Aston Villa on July 24, 2019© Reuters

Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings managed to shake off knocks to start against United, and Matt Targett could come back into the fold following a thigh injury.

Keinan Davis is in contention to replace Mbwana Samatta up top for Villa, and John McGinn may be given a rest by Smith during a hectic run of fixtures.

Tom Heaton, Bjorn Engels and Wesley all remain on the treatment table for the West Midlands outfit.

As for Palace, Hodgson has confirmed that Martin Kelly has recovered from injury and is set to deputise in defence for Gary Cahill, who only lasted eight minutes against his former club in midweek.

Cahill joins Jeffrey Schlupp and James Tomkins on the sidelines for the Eagles, and Hodgson is not expected to make too many changes to his side for the trip to Villa Park.

Wilfried Zaha finally managed to end his barren run of 16 games without a goal against Chelsea - his first in the Premier League since before Christmas.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Reina; Guilbert, Hause, Mings, Targett; El Ghazi, Luiz, Hourihane, Trezeguet; Grealish; Davis

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Ward, Dann, Kelly, Van Aanholt; Zaha, Milivojevic, McArthur, Kouyate, Ayew; Benteke

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace

Neither of these two sides inspire much confidence given their respective winless runs, but there is a lot more riding on this game for Villa and Smith's players should be going all out for the win. However, we are struggling to see Villa getting the better of a resolute Palace side and expect the hosts' relegation woes to intensify with a draw on Sunday.

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Manchester United pair Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes celebrate scoring against Aston Villa on July 9, 2020
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