Aston Villa predicted line-up vs. Crystal Palace - £26m defender dropped as full-back nears return
Predicted starting XI, team news and injury updates for Aston Villa as they prepare to face Crystal Palace this weekend.
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Aston Villa return to action after the international break with a Saturday 3pm kick-off against Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace at Villa Park, and Unai Emery will be hoping for a better performance after suffering a 3-0 defeat at Anfield last time out.
If they are to improve and get back to their impressive form of the first half of 2023, they may have to do so without several important players with quite a few doubts and absentees due to injury – and they will also line up without Philippe Coutinho, who moved to Qatari club Al-Duhail last week, ending an 18-month long stint in the Midlands.
As well as navigating a potentially lengthy injury list, Emery will also have to decide whether to hand first starts to summer signings including Clément Lenglet and Nicòlo Zanoilo or to stick with proven players in their positions.
Goalkeeper & Defence
Diego Carlos, who went off injured 19 minutes into the match against Liverpool, is a major question mark for this weekend despite Emery describing his hamstring problem as “small”, and it may be more likely that either Lenglet or Ezri Konsa play at centre-back alongside Pau Torres as it stands.
Long-term absentee Alex Moreno, who was also injured against Liverpool but back in May, is back in training following successful surgery for his own hamstring issue, and could well feature from the bench, but Lucas Digne will almost certainly continue to start for the next couple of games. Tyrone Mings remains out following the awful knee injury he sustained on the opening day of the campaign.
Jacob Ramsey, who broke his metatarsal in the summer while playing with England’s Under-21 squad, is expected to return to training soon but won’t be ready for Saturday, while Emiliano Buendía and youngster Tim Iroegbunam remain out for the foreseeable future. Leander Dendoncker should be ready to return to the bench following persistent injury problems but is very unlikely to challenge Douglas Luiz or Boubacar Kamara for a starting berth as yet.
The biggest decision facing Emery is over the right wing position. Matty Cash scored two goals in a more advanced role against Burnley but was forced to switch back into defence following Carlos’ injury at Anfield, with Leon Bailey coming in on that occasion. Zaniolo, who played on the right wing in Italy’s win over Ukraine on Tuesday evening, could also make his full debut.
If Emery decides to go with Konsa at centre-back, then it’s likely Cash will play in defence while Bailey or Zaniolo play wide right, but should Emery opt to give Lenglet a full debut then Poland international Cash can reprise his more attacking role with Konsa tucked in behind him.
Buendía’s absence aside, Emery should have a clean bill of health among his forward options. Zaniolo is also an option for the support striker role, but Diaby’s impressive early-season form means it’s more likely that Villa continue to pair him with Ollie Watkins up front for the time being.
Full predicted line-up vs. Crystal Palace
Martínez; Digne, Torres, Lenglet, Konsa; McGinn, Luiz, Kamara, Cash; Watkins, Diaby.