Steven Gerrard will aim to bounce back after suffering his first defeat as Aston Villa boss when his team host Leicester City.
Manchester City halted the Steven Gerrard train at Aston Villa by handing the former Rangers boss his first defeat in the Premier League in midweek. Although their exciting performance might have sparked some confidence, the team had no real expectation of winning over Pep Guardiola’s side.
Gerrard will treat the previous result as a bump in the road, as he will look to continue the recent upturn in form. Despite the two wins under their new manager since his appointment, Villa still find themselves in 13th place and have much work to improve their standing.
The former Rangers boss will now have another real test on his hands when his team host Leicester City at Villa Park. With eight losses already this season, only Watford have suffered more defeats than Aston Villa, and more losses down the line could hit their league standings hard. However, the Villans are showing massive improvements under Gerrard.
Their visitors, Leicester City, have also seen a recent upturn in their form, although Southampton held them to a draw in their latest fixture. The two teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at St.Mary’s as the Foxes failed to take the chance to close the gap to the top-six. Yet, on 19 points, they are not far away from Tottenham, sitting in the sixth spot with 22 points.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers will look forward to renewing his rivalry with Gerrard from his days in Scotland. It could also be a reunion of sorts given that Rodgers managed Gerrard for a few seasons at Liverpool when they famously came close to winning the Premier League title once. However, this will be a game of pitting their wits and gaining relevant ground on the league table for both managers and their teams.
Team News & Tactics
Aston Villa’s medical team confirmed the absence of Leon Bailey for the next few weeks, which leaves Steven Gerrard somewhat short of wide attackers. Bertrand Traore also remains out with a problem along with Trezeguet.
There could be late fitness tests for Danny Ings, who has had few problems in recent weeks, and Jacob Ramsey. Matt Target is also considered a fitness doubt and will be assessed before the match, although Gerrard remains confident of his inclusion.
Ashley Young could be considered to start for Villa in the wide-area vacated by Bailey, although Anwar El Ghazi could also be an option there. Douglas Luiz should slot in midfield alongside John McGinn, as Gerrard might ponder a change of shape with a midfield five.
Emiliano Buendia and Young could play out wide with Marvelous Nakamba adding the extra body in midfield. Ollie Watkins should lead the line for Villa, hoping to be among the scorers in this game.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, mings, Targett; Buendia, McGinn, Luiz, Nakamba, Young; Watkins
Brendan Rodgers has several injuries to deal with, mostly to defenders. Wesley Fofana remains out for the long-term, while Ricardo Pereira and Ryan Bertrand have failed to recover from their respective problems. James Justin is also a doubt.
Despite some complaints after the Southampton draw, James Maddison might be fit enough to start against Villa. The playmaker has been in great form of late, with three goals in as many games.
Youri Tielemans is also back from his absence as he returned to training and could be in consideration for a start, although Rodgers might take caution. Midfield options were further depleted after Boubakary Soumare was hauled off at half-time with a fitness problem, which could open the door for Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to get a chance.
Wilfried Ndidi should slot in the other midfield position, while Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu should stay in central defence. Ayoze Perez might be handed a start on the right side, while Harvey Barnes should take the mantle on the left. Jamie Vardy will lead the line for Leicester.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Castagne, Evans, Soyuncu, Thomas; Ndidi, Dewsbury-Hall; Perez, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy
- Aston Villa have lost eight games this Premier League season already, with only Watford enduring more defeats.
- Aston Villa have seen over 2.5 goals in five of their last six home games against Leicester City in all competitions.
- Aston Villa have lost two of their last three Premier League matches against Leicester City.
- Leicester City have conceded at least two goals in eight of their last ten Premier League games.
- Leicester have drawn three Premier League games this season with a 2-2 scoreline.
Player to Watch
The Foxes talisman has been working his way back into some form again, although he is yet to hit his peak powers. Nonetheless, Vardy’s upturn in form has coincided with that of the entire Leicester side, and the striker needs to take his game a level above the current standard.
His goals will be very important in Leicester’s quest to close the gap on the top four spots, which is not beyond their reach. With the second half of the season looming, Vardy needs to unleash himself upon opposition defenders and give his team the sharp edge they need in attack.
Aston Villa 2-2 Leicester City
There can only be one predicted outcome to this game with the quality onboard on both sides. We expect both teams to play out an entertaining draw with the clash set to see plenty of goals.
Vill and the Foxes have attacking potential in their sides to hurt each other, although their defences have shown a recent upturn in their form. The likes of Vardy and Watkins could benefit from such a clash. With the points expected to be shared, the teams may not see much movement in their positions on the table.