After last week’s victory over rivals Swansea, Cardiff City should feel confident traveling to Villa Park today (10 am ET, watch live online via NBC Sports Live Extra). Aston Villa, however, are likely not in such high spirits. Sure, they got a point from their visit to West Ham last week, but the Villans haven’t scored in four consecutive matches.
That’s right. Aston Villa haven’t got on the scoreboard since Andi Weimann scored the winner against Manchester City, back on September 28. Losing Christian Benteke to injury for a few weeks didn’t help. Neither do the persistent injury niggles of Gabby Agbonlahor — the forward may have yet to score this season, but having him on the pitch to terrorize the defense gives his side a boost. Weimann, too, will miss out, thanks to a hamstring injury picked up last week. Instead, Aleksandar Tonev and Libor Kozak will flank Christian Benteke up front, while Callum Robinson, who scored a hat trick in the reserves match on Monday, gets a place on the bench.
Cardiff, for their part, have no new injury woes to fret over. In fact, the Bluebirds aren’t fretting much at all, what with their 12th placed standing (one point above today’s competition) and last week’s win. Steven Caulker’s header likely helped Malky Mackay sleep a bit better at night, but a second straight win would surely endear the Cardiff boss to the club’s new owner. Hoping to add a bit more oomph to the attack, Aron Gunnarsson, who came in off the bench against Swansea, will start against Villa, while Jordon Mutch makes way.
Aston Villa starting XI: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Sylla, Tonev, Benteke, Kozak
Subs: Steer, Helenius, Herd, Bowery, Lowton, Johnson, Robinson
Cardiff City starting XI: Marshall, Taylor, Caulker, Turner, Whittingham, Medel, Odemwingie, Gunnarsson, Cowie, Theophile-Catherine, Bellamy
Subs: Lewis, Hudson, Campbell, Kim, Noone, Mutch, Maynard