Premier League: Man City v Aston Villa

The last time any English side took points from City, it was Slaven Bilic’s West Brom outfit back in December, a result that saw him sacked 14 hours later. Since then, City have been perfect, and will go top of the league for the first time this season if they see off the Villans.

After a period of fixture instability thanks to a COVID outbreak at their training base, Villa haven’t played a league game since New Year’s Day, when they were beaten 2-1 at Old Trafford. Since then, their first-team has been out of action, with only what was essentially Villa’s under-18’s losing 4-1 in the FA Cup to a full strength Liverpool.

As a result of the extended break, Dean Smith has few injury concerns ahead of the trip to Manchester, with Ross Barkley training ahead of the game and expected to feature. Brazilian striker Wesley is closing in on a return but will likely miss out, while Trezeguet has had COVID issues and isn’t available either.

Anwar El Ghazi has been in fine form recently and should be available after a knock, while Bertrand Traore is also expected to be OK. Smith will need as many players as possible with a run of six games in 18 days coming up.

Manchester City have been full of goals despite having striker issues recently, and will be without Sergio Aguero once again when Villa come to town. The Argentine is still isolating after contact with a COVID positive person recently, with Saturday’s game against Cheltenham a potential return date.

Aymeric Laporte is back in training after a thigh injury, but Guardiola confirmed he won’t be part of the squad, but Eric Garcia could return. Nathan Ake is also missing but closing in on a return.

That all means John Stones and Ruben Dias will continue at centre-back, and look to build on their incredible run of form recently. The pair have only conceded one goal in their last five games, and Stones has even chipped in with three goals as he rediscovers the form that caused City to pay £50m for his services.

As mentioned, City will go top of the league if they see off Villa, providing Leicester don’t beat Chelsea by more than four goals on Tuesday night.

Villa have three games in hand on all of the top half of the Premier League, and the table is so congested that if they manage to win all three, they’ll be second when the table levels out.

Manchester City take on Aston Villa on Wednesday, January 20th. Kick-off is at 6pm.

Liverpool beat the Aston Villa kids in FA Cup win

Following a string of positive Covid-19 tests for Villa, stand in boss Mark Delaney had to field a full starting XI of academy players against the Reds.

But, apparently Jurgen Klopp didn’t read the pre-game script, as the German boss named a strong side to face the kids.

Sadio Mane handed Liverpool an early lead as he powered home Curtis Jones’ cross before Louie Barry netted a superb equaliser.

Calum Rowe’s pass caught out Rhys Williams and the highly rated Barry raced on to slot past Caoimhin Kelleher.

Liverpool reacted ruthlessly after the break however, as a five-minute blitz saw off Villa’s plucky challenge.

Gini Wijnaldum swept home from the edge of the box before the ever reliable Mane and Mo Salah ended any chance of a fairy tale.

Full Time on a strange night at Villa Park it’s Aston Villa 1 Liverpool 4

Premier League Preview: Manchester United v Aston Villa

Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s 2nd placed Manchester United face Aston Villa on New Year’s Day and may have their work cut out if they are to keep up with league leaders Liverpool.

The Red Devil’s have steadily worked their way up the Premier League table in recent weeks and will be looking to continue their good run of form against a Villa side who are unbeaten in their last 5 games.

United haven’t tasted defeat since Arsenal visited Old Trafford on November 1st but Dean Smith’s Villains will be no walk in the park.

Villa come into the game off the back of a Jack Grealish inspired 1 all draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge that manager Dean Smith said showed his teams great character.

This ones bound to be a cracker and takes place on New Years Day at 8pm.

Premier League: Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa

But Frank Lampard’s men could not get back to winning ways after their 3-1 loss at Arsenal on Boxing Day, to be left instead with just one victory in their last five league matches.

Villa, by contrast, extended their unbeaten run to five matches, to sit fifth in the table and hold off Chelsea in sixth.

Chelsea boss Lampard made six changes from the Boxing Day defeat at Arsenal but will have been frustrated not to receive the upswing in performance he had demanded.

Villa’s neat build-up play and compact work off the ball kept Chelsea pegged back regularly throughout a cagey opening half-hour.

But just when Villa were gearing up to be reasonably satisfied with their work, Chelsea finally strung together a move of purpose and incision.

The first true flowing attack from the Blues yielded the breakthrough, as Chilwell delivered the telling cross – and Giroud applied the deadly finish.

Villa snatched an equaliser shortly after the break to halt Chelsea’s momentum, though the legitimacy of the goal would be long debated.

El Ghazi tapped home at the far post but would arguably not have had the space to do so had Grealish been censured for his tackle on Christensen in the build-up.

Villa managed to see the rest of the game out, leaving Stamford Bridge with a 1-1 draw.

Premier League: Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa

But Frank Lampard’s men could not get back to winning ways after their 3-1 loss at Arsenal on Boxing Day, to be left instead with just one victory in their last five league matches.

Villa, by contrast, extended their unbeaten run to five matches, to sit fifth in the table and hold off Chelsea in sixth.

Chelsea boss Lampard made six changes from the Boxing Day defeat at Arsenal but will have been frustrated not to receive the upswing in performance he had demanded.

Villa’s neat build-up play and compact work off the ball kept Chelsea pegged back regularly throughout a cagey opening half-hour.

But just when Villa were gearing up to be reasonably satisfied with their work, Chelsea finally strung together a move of purpose and incision.

The first true flowing attack from the Blues yielded the breakthrough, as Chilwell delivered the telling cross – and Giroud applied the deadly finish.

Villa snatched an equaliser shortly after the break to halt Chelsea’s momentum, though the legitimacy of the goal would be long debated.

El Ghazi tapped home at the far post but would arguably not have had the space to do so had Grealish been censured for his tackle on Christensen in the build-up.

Villa managed to see the rest of the game out, leaving Stamford Bridge with a 1-1 draw.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v Aston Villa

They play host to Aston Villa in their final game of 2020 and the former England man is expected to make changes.

Full back pair Reece James and Ben Chilwell are both back in action after their injuries were not as bad as first feared.

But Kai Havertz and Jorginho could return to the starting team in place of Mateo Kovacic and Timo Werner.

Villa have enjoyed a much better festive period than their hosts in this one with back-to-back 3-0 wins over West Brom and Crystal Palace.

That run of results means he’s likely to make less changes than Lampard, with the suspended Tyrone Mings the only absentee, with United States international Ezri Konsa set to step in.

And this one gets going at 5.30pm at Stamford Bridge on December 28th.

Ten-man Aston Villa prove too strong for Crystal Palace

Palace nearly made the perfect start when Wilfried Zaha was played clean through, catching Tyrone Mings on his heels, but Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez was equal to the attempt.

The hosts then took the lead only five minutes in, when Bertrand Traore played in Ollie Watkins down the right and was on hand to thump the ball into the net after Vicente Guaita parried Watkins’ shot into the middle of the box.

Villa were then, however, reduced to 10-men when Mings stuck out an arm to block Zaha and was shown a second yellow on the stroke of half time.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Villa continued to enjoy the better of the game in the second half.

And the second goal that arrived in the 66th minute was no more than they deserved. Palace failed to defend an El Ghazi free-kick, Watkins headed against the crossbar and Hause followed up to score his second Premier League goal for Villa.

With Palace forced to commit more men forward, Villa looked even more dangerous, and, after Watkins saw a shot blocked, he teed-up El Ghazi for his fourth goal in four games.

The result lifted Villa into the Premier League’s top six – for a few hours at least – while Palace have now conceded 10 goals in two matches after last weekend’s hammering by Liverpool.

Sam Allardyce’s Premier League return ends in defeat as West Brom lose to Aston Villa

The Baggies played the majority of the game with ten men following Jake Livermore’s red card but Allardyce’s new team were never really in it against the Villa.

Dean Smith’s side were quick out of the traps against the cross city rivals with Anwar El Ghazi putting them in front after just five minutes.

Summer signing Bertrand Traore’s cross drifted over a line of West Brom defenders inside the box and the Dutchman arrived on cue to finish at the back post.

That goal put the Baggies on the back foot before the break and their task was made even harder after Livermore was dismissed for a lunge at Jack Grealish.

With a goal and a man advantage after the restart Villa looked to move through the gears as Scottish international John McGinn headed wide just wide of the post.

But Smith’s side did finally wrap the points up with five minutes to go, as Traore cooly slotted home and El Ghazi netted his second of the night from the spot after Semi Ajayi bundled over Grealish inside the box.

Full Time at The Hawthorns it’s West Brom 0 Aston Villa 3

Premier League: Aston Villa v Burnley

The last time Dean Smith’s side won in front of the Holte End was when Liverpool were humbled 7-2, with a trio of home losses following that historic result.

Brighton, Southampton and Leeds have all beaten Villa since then, but Smith will be hopeful that struggling Burnley will gift him an early Christmas present when the sides kick-off.

It’s probably not the best time to play the Clarets though, as Sean Dyche’s side are buzzing from beating Arsenal on Sunday and have renewed optimism ahead of what looks like being a relegation fight this season.

Sunday’s three points at Wolves did come at a price for Villa, as both Douglas Luiz and Matty Cash will be missing through suspension. Cash picked up his fifth booking of the season, while the Brazilian midfielder was shown a red card for two bookable offences.

There’s better news in the shape of Ross Barkley’s potential return to the squad though, as the England midfielder continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Smith confirmed he will be looked at on the day of the game before a decision is made on his fitness.

Tom Heaton could return to the squad for the first time this season after recovering from a bad ACL injury, but Wesley needs more time after a similar injury and won’t be involved.

Burnley’s tight-knit squad is in good health at the minute, with the Clarets’ form improving since the influential trio of James Tarkowski, Nick Pope and Ben Mee have all been available.

Midfielders Jack Cork and Johan Berg Gudmundsson have been struggling with injuries, but along with Dale Stephens and Phil Bardsley, came through an under-23 game on Monday fine and could make the squad.

Dyche is unlikely to make too many changes to the side that beat Arsenal on Sunday night, with Ashley Westwood and Josh Brownhill continuing in central midfield after the former recovered from an attempted chokeslam by Granit Xhaka.

Aston Villa take on Burnley on Thursday, December 17th. Kick-off is at 6pm.

Aston Villa snatch 1-0 Premier League win at Wolves

In a game of very few clear-cut chances at either end it was Anwar El Ghazi’s 94th minute penalty that clinched three points for Villa.

Both set of players looked rusty in the opening exchanges at Molineux with Daniel Podence and Leander Dendoncker testing Emiliano Martinez.

Wolves did look to be edging at after the break as teenage striker Fabio Silva was presented with a perfect chance to put them in front.

The Portuguese international slipped past two Villa challenges inside the box but his snapshot fired back off the post.

Nuno Santo’s side pushed hard for a breakthrough in closing, but Martinez showed his class once again as the Uruguayan denied Roman Saiss and Nelson Semedo.

And with Wolves unable to find a way past Martinez in the closing stages Villa ducked in to take advantage in a chaotic last five minutes.

Douglas Luiz was shown a second yellow card for Villa before Mike Dean controversially pointed to the spot as Semedo tangled with John McGinn inside the box.

El Ghazi kept his cool to slot past Rui Patricio as Wolves’ protests spilled after the final whistle with Joao Moutinho joining Luiz for an early bath.

Full Time at Molineux it’s Wolves 0 Aston Villa 1

Premier League Preview: Wolves v Aston Villa

Nuno Santo’s side have been inconsistent in recent weeks with just one win from their last four games in the Premier League.

A win at Arsenal two weeks ago was followed with defeat at Liverpool last time out but the Portuguese boss is only expected to make limited changes to his starting XI.

With Raul Jimenez the only long-term absentee for Santo he could name an unchanged side from the defeat at Anfield.

But if Wolves’ form is a cause for concern for Santo, Dean Smith has even deeper worries with just one win from five for the Villa.

Smith is expected to be a bit more liberal with his changes than Santo with eight players sidelined for the visitors.

Ross Barkley and Keinan Davis are back in training but Smith will not risk them this weekend with a busy run of games coming up.

Matty Cash should shake off a minor knock in time to play and Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi should also return to freshen up the attack.

Kick Off is 12.30pm tomorrow at Molineux

Premier League Preview: Wolves v Aston Villa

Nuno Santo’s side have been inconsistent in recent weeks with just one win from their last four games in the Premier League.

A win at Arsenal two weeks ago was followed with defeat at Liverpool last time out but the Portuguese boss is only expected to make limited changes to his starting XI.

With Raul Jimenez the only long-term absentee for Santo he could name an unchanged side from the defeat at Anfield.

But if Wolves’ form is a cause for concern for Santo, Dean Smith has even deeper worries with just one win from five for the Villa.

Smith is expected to be a bit more liberal with his changes than Santo with eight players sidelined for the visitors.

Ross Barkley and Keinan Davis are back in training but Smith will not risk them this weekend with a busy run of games coming up.

Matty Cash should shake off a minor knock in time to play and Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi should also return to freshen up the attack.

Kick Off is 12.30pm tomorrow at Molineux