It’s felt like Dean Smith has been in “must-win” mode for a few weeks now, but few games come with the pressure that Villa’s upcoming clash at the London Stadium carry.
The final day of the season can throw up strange quirks, form generally goes out of the window and the fates of teams can often be decided upon fine margins.
Injuries and team selection, of course, will play a big part.
With Villa now just 24 hours away from a Survival Sunday showdown against West Ham, here are the latest injury updates from B6:
The Welsh international had been deputising for Matt Targett who was out with a hamstring complaint suffered during the Crystal Palace (2-0), before Taylor suffered an indentical injury himself.
Taylor, who had been quietly going about his business at left back as Villa re-found some composure has been confirmed as training this week and will be available against West Ham.
At the very least expect to see Taylor make the bench, with him bringing a raft of Premier League and international experience to the squad. As we have seen with Ahmed Elmohamady, whilst not a world beater, he has shown the benefits that an older learned head can bring to Villa’s survival fight.
With that said, Targett, who has enjoyed mixed form since a big money £11.5 million move from Southampton, was in fine form in Villa’s 1-0 victory over Arsenal.
On this basis and given the Welshman’s recent return from injury, The Villa Underground expects Targett to remain at left back, with Taylor remaining in reserve.
Elmo had slotted in nicely at right back, stepping in with Kortney Hause briefly ruled out, immediately demonstrating he superb crossing ability with a number of dangerous deliveries. If only a Villa striker could take them!
However, after a period on the peripherary, he too suffered for suddenly being thrust into Villa’s survival battle, overstretching during the early exchanges against The Gunners (1-0).
The Egyptian international was swapped for Frederic Guilbert, who had not been seen for over 5 months. In the lockdown period the former Caen defender was nursing a problematic knee complaint, but he returned into fray looking like he’d never been away.
Indeed, Guilbert contributed a number of important blocks, including an excellent second half defensive slide tackle to keep Arsenal out. He looked fresh, energetic and committed, appearing visibly buoyed by the occasion. With Elmo definitely not featuring, Guilbert will almost certainly retain his spot, with us hoping the Frenchman can replicate his impressive display last time out at Villa Park.
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