Preview: Palace (v) Aston Villa – A win would be nice. #avfc

After a win on the opening day at Bournemouth, Villa fell to defeat in a display lacking attacking verve against Man Utd.  Will Palace be a welcome return to winning ways?

Selhurst Park has always been a mixed bag for us as visitors, but it was the scene of a vital 3 points last year, with Benteke scoring a fine solo goal.  This year, we obviously return without out former hitman, but with a brand new squad that is beginning to show all of the right signs.  In short; we are in much better shape.

Palace, for all of the media hype about their home atmosphere, succumbed to 10 home defeats last term.  This is certainly something to be seized upon; they are uncomfortable in their own back yard, a dangerous trait that Villa got into the habit of doing.

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Key to the fixture will be how Villa choose to set up in midfield and attack.  The midfield against United was filled with too many similar players and urgently needs an injection of creativity.  It remains to be seen whether Grealish or newboy Adama will be risked, but Carles-Gil remains sidelined with injury.

Sherwood also has a big decision to make up front.  This is maybe the juncture to drop Agbonlahor to the bench and provide greater support to Ayew.  If Villa persevere with a three, Ayew would be best served with the trickery of Sinclair alongside the physicality of Rudy Gestede.  Gabby is not only too similar, but his threat is known and frankly lacking potency.

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Alternatively, if Villa opt to change the system to contain Palace, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a striker drop out and Carlos Sanchez start in a deep role to release a holding midfielder from their duties.  In this scenario, Gestede may find himself a lone, possibly isolated figure, expected to seize upon chances presumably crafted from set plays.

Palace have sought to strengthen going forward and have juxtaposed a a surprise capture of Cabeye against the puzzling acquisition of Connor Wickham.  Irrelevant of what anyone might think of Wickham, they are supported by Puncheon, Bolasie & Zaha.

Whilst all of Palace’s front line can very much blow hot and cold for me, they do carry a threat that will require Gana, Richards & Clark to have their wits about them.

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Villa are renewed in terms of personnel, but very much still finding our feet as a squad.  This could be the real risk.  Palace have a knack of grinding out results and would understandably try to use this to their advantage.  Pardew, although a easily unlikeable figure, has a Tony Pulis like auro about him of just getting the job done.  This we must avert at all costs.

Prediction:

Crystal Palace 0 (v) 2 Aston Villa

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