Aston Villa vs. Watford
Venue: Villa Park
Kick Off: 4PM
Two Premier League teams struggling for form will lock horns at Villa Park this afternoon when Aston Villa play host to Watford.
The Villans will be seeking revenge against the Hornets, who secured a 3-2 victory at Vicarage Road in the reverse fixture back in August.
After a bright start to his reign as Aston Villa manager, winning four of his opening six matches, Steven Gerrard has since endured a difficult spell, with his side claiming only one win in their last seven across all competitions, including four defeats.
Their most recent disappointment came against a resurgent Newcastle United side, who secured a 1-0 win at St James’ Park courtesy of a Kieran Trippier free kick, which condemned the Villans to their 12th Premier League defeat of the campaign.
Villa, who are currently positioned 12th in the table, are now sitting as many points behind the European places as they are above the relegation zone, with 10 points separating them from Wolverhampton Wanderers in seventh and Norwich City in 18th.
Gerrard’s side head into today’s game as one of only three teams in the Premier League to score in every home fixture this season.
While their form in front of goal at Villa Park has been impressive, their defensive frailties have been costly, as they have conceded 18 goals in their last eight top-flight home matches, one more than in their previous 17 combined.
As a result, Villa have only won two of their last eight league games on home soil.
Nevertheless, Villa will be confident of returning to winning ways against Watford, who they have only lost once against in their last nine home league meetings.
The appointment of Roy Hodgson is yet to turn Watford’s fortunes around, with the 74-year-old steering his new side to just one point from a possible nine available.
A goalless draw at Burnley and a narrow 1-0 loss at West Ham United were followed by a 2-0 home defeat against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend.
The Hornets have now failed to score in their last four matches, including three under Hodgson, and have also failed to win any of their last 12 league games since beating Manchester United 4-1 in November, which is currently the longest winless run in the division.
After Newcastle United’s third win on the bounce, Watford now sit six points adrift of safety, having played the same number of games as the Magpies in 17th place.
Spirits will be low at Vicarage Road, but today’s fixture against Aston Villa could boost their morale as they have an impressive record against the Villans; the Hornets have won four of their last five league meetings against Villa, including a 3-2 victory in the reverse fixture back in August.
With tricky encounters against Man United and Arsenal soon to come, Hodgson will be keen to see his side claim maximum points this weekend and build much-needed momentum heading into the final third of the campaign.
Aston Villa possible XI: Martinez, Cash, Chambers, Mings, Digne, McGinn, Sanson, Ramsey, Buendia, Ings, Coutinho.
Watford possible XI: Foster, Femenia, Cathcart, Samir, Kamara, Sissoko, Kayembe, Cleverley, Sarr, King, Dennis.