Aston Villa – Crystal Palace: The impending return of Ross Barkley will have Villa fans excited and dreaming of what could be ahead of a very difficult and potentially decisive period of fixtures, beginning on Saturday (Watch live at 10 am ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), after Dean Smith’s side battled its way back into the Premier League’s top-half in his absence.
Barkley arrived at Villa Park, on loan from Chelsea in the summer, and immediately displayed a strong rapport with star man Jack Grealish, whose five goals and six assists are guiding one of the Premier League’s surprise sides thus far. With two games in hand on most every team around them in the table, Aston Villa sit 9th with 22 points from their first 12 games. However, there next four games are as follows: v Crystal Palace, at Chelsea, at Manchester United, v Tottenham Hotspur — that’s three straight games against current top-six sides, making Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace all the more important and a virtual must-win.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, will perhaps still be licking their wounds after feeling the full force of Liverpool in an embarrassing 7-0 home defeat to the defending champion Reds on Saturday.
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Here is everything you need to know ahead of Aston Villa – Crystal Palace this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.
Team news: Aston Villa – Crystal Palace (INJURY REPORT)
Aston Villa: Ross Barkley is still out injured, while Trezeguet (hamstring) and Wesley (knee) remain out.
🟣 𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗠 𝗡𝗘𝗪𝗦 🟣
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 26, 2020
Crystal Palace: Palace are without Gary Cahill (hamstring), Mamadou Sakho (calf), Nathan Ferguson (knee), Martin Kelly (calf), Wayne Hennessey (undisclosed) and Connor Wickham (undisclosed).
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) December 26, 2020
What they’re saying
Dean Smith, on Ross Barkley’s status: “Everybody’s plans have changed a little bit. Last season I gave the players Christmas Day off, but I’m not doing that this season. “I just feel that the games are coming thick and fast and we need to be in and preparing for Palace and then Chelsea. … We”re expecting Ross Barkley to start training [Wednesday] which is good news for us.”
Roy Hodgson, on the mood after losing 7-0: “There’s nothing positive I can say. We’re humiliated by the result, there’s no question about that. We take it very, very badly. Most of us in the dressing room have not been on the end of a 7-0 defeat before, that’s a new experience and quite frankly, sitting here in front of you now, I can’t think of anything positive at all. I am still … trying to come to terms by the fact that we’ve just been beaten 7-0 at home, albeit by a very good team.”
Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)
Aston Villa (-110) | Crystal Palace (+270) | Draw (+265)
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Prediction: Aston Villa – Crystal Palace
It’s hard to look past Villa for the quality of football they’ve played this season, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Crystal Palace’s current mental state. An early goal for Aston Villa, and they tend to start games quite quickly, could see heads drop as “Here we go again” enters Eagle minds. Aston Villa 3-1 Crystal Palace.
How to watch Aston Villa – Crystal Palace: stream and start time
Kickoff: 10 am ET Saturday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com