Premier League: Aston Villa v Crystal Palace match preview

A look ahead to the Boxing Day fixture at Villa Park

This fixture could well shape the direction of either team for the rest of the season.

Aston Villa are in need of a victory after three successive defeats leaving Paul Lambert’s position less than secure, while a win for Palace could see Tony Pulis’ side move out of the drop zone for the first time since September.

For the home side, who sit in 13 six points above Palace in 18, the absence of influential defender Ron Vlaar is proving a major problem as they have conceded at least two goals in each of their last four matches, and defeat at the Britannia Stadium at the weekend means the midlands club have now only won two of their last 10 matches.

Having initially seen results improve following the arrival of Pulis, Palace have now lost two on the bounce, albeit to tough opposition in Chelsea and Newcastle. While Pulis will hoping for a better performance defensively after a 3-0 home defeat to Alan Pardew’s side last time out, the Eagles’ main problem lies offensively having scored a mere 11 goals in 17 league games, and the absence of top scorer Marouane Chamakh (4), who picked up his fifth booking of the season, will do little to rectify this issue.

KICK-OFF: Thursday, 3:00pm

PAST MEETINGS

Aston Villa 3 (Agbonlahor, Carew 2) Crystal Palace 1 (Ambrose), FA Cup Fifth Round replay, February 2010

Crystal Palace 2 (Ertl, Ambrose) Aston Villa 2 (Collins, Petrov), FA Cup Fifth Round, February 2010

STATS…

Aston Villa:

Villa have lost three of their last six games.

Paul Lambert’s side have only won two of their last 10 matches.

Christian Benteke is expected to be out until the New Year, but his impact in front of goal has been less telling than last season for Villa and has gone nearly 12 hours without scoring a Premier League goal.

Crystal Palace:

Palace have lost 7 of their last 8 away matches in the Premier League.

Tony Pulis’ side have been losing at both half time and full time in 5 of their last 7 away matches in the Premier League.

Palace have scored the fewest number of goals (11) by a club in the Premier League this season, while only Fulham, Sunderland and Norwich have conceded more (27).

ODDS

Aston Villa to win: 1.9

Crystal Palace to win:  4.3

Draw: 3.4

TV: Highlights on BBC’s MOTD at 10.25pm.

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