WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Villa Park.
Date: Sunday, 15th May 2022.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
Assistant referee: Harry Lennard, Nick Hopton.
Fourth official: Martin Atkinson.
VAR: David Coote.
Assistant VAR: James Mainwaring.
Villa’s star striker Ollie Watkins was substituted in their last match against Liverpool and according to Gerrard, the English international might give the rest of the league games a miss. It is to be seen whether Leon Bailey recovers from his recent injury setback. Besides that, there are no fresh injury concerns in the home team. Steven Gerrard is expected to field the same team with Danny Ings leading the attack in Watkins’ absence.
Crystal Palace received a concerning injury blow ahead of the season finale, with crucial defender Marc Guehi walking off midway through the second half. Ward might as well keep Mitchell out of the playing XI as the latter is gradually regaining his match fitness. Nathan Ferguson has resumed his individual training but he will be back on the pitch not before next season.
Gerrard vs Viera: The midfield battle that is now on at the sideline
Following Gerrard’s appointment, a campaign that appeared to be unravelling after four straight defeats to teams chasing European football has been infused with renewed optimism and could possibly culminate in a first top-half finish in more than a decade. Steven Gerrard’s tenure at Villa Park has been a mixed bag, with a hot start with the loan signing of former teammate Philippe Coutinho being followed by a period of poor form, leaving the Villans in a mid-table position with no hope of European football and no risk of relegation. While Gerrard’s Aston Villa club has yet to prove that it can compete with the big boys, the Lions have fared relatively well against teams outside the top four. Aston Villa fans were hopeful of finishing the season in the top half of the table following their comfortable wins over the 2 basement clubs, Burnley and Norwich City; but was given a reality check by Jurgen Klopp after the latter’s win at Villa’s home ground. Stevie G will be adamant to get 2 wins in the next 2 matches before facing Manchester City in their last game of the season.
Patrick Viera and his boys will travel to Villa Park this weekend in the quest of solidifying his quest of finishing in the top 10 for the first time in the past few years. The Eagles are unbeaten in their last 3 matches including wins in their last 2 matches. Turning draws into wins will be one of the primary goals for next season, with Palace sharing the spoils 14 times this season and winning just ten times, but they have also only lost 11 games, the same amount as Champions League aspirants Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Consistency in outcomes will be another goal for 2022-23, but Palace are already demonstrating it on the defensive front, with only Manchester City and Liverpool conceding fewer goals since the beginning of February.
A goalkeeper’s job is simple and straightforward. There can only be one slot in the starting XI for a goalie, and many excellent keepers must wait years for their moment. Since leaving his hometown of Argentina in 2010, Emiliano Martinez has had to play the waiting game. But at Aston Villa, he is one of the most crucial players in the squad. Martinez has 87 saves to his name. On 11 different occasions, he has kept clean sheets, the 6th in the league. Emiliano Martnez, like any other top-tier goalkeeper, is a terrific and well-rounded ball saver, and it’s difficult to single out one aspect of his shot-stopping ability. If I had to pick one attribute of Martnez’s shot-stopping abilities to highlight, it would be his ability to make high diving saves with either his bottom or top hands. Martnez can pluck high shots out of the air and control them as he lands, as well as make top-handed and bottom-handed saves with his left and right hands.
Andersen was an easy pick for Patrick Vieira’s new-look Palace. He is only 25 years old and still has the greatest years of his career ahead of him. He possesses the characteristics required to flourish in a ball-playing role under the Frenchman. Andersen has continued to use his technical abilities to make an impact on the transition since moving to Selhurst Park, while also honing his defensive game. He is at ease playing alongside centre defence partner Guehi, as evidenced by the eye test and the data. While ball-playing remains Andersen’s most powerful tool, he has improved in other areas. The Danish midfielder’s move to Crystal Palace has been a huge success for Vieira and the club’s recruitment department. They recognised a gap in the lineup, sought out a player with Premier League experience, and seamlessly inserted him into the starting lineup. Of course, the shift has benefited Andersen as well. He’s back to his best, having fun with his new team, and looking forward to a bright future. Crystal Palace is the ideal fit for him, and he is well aware of this.
Aston Villa predicted XI vs Crystal Palace: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Chambers, Luiz; Buendia; Ings, Traore.
Crystal Palace predicted XI vs Aston Villa: Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Tomkins, Mitchell; Gallagher, McArthur, Schlupp; Eze, Mateta, Zaha.