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    Aston Villa v Watford - Match Preview

    by Conall Green
    Aston Villa entertain Watford at Villa Park on Saturday in what is looking like a must win game in the home side’s battle to avoid the drop.
    Remi Garde, who took over on 2 November, watched his team take an encouraging point from Manchester City in his first game, before his side were thumped 4-0 at Everton last weekend. Villa remain at the foot of the table, five points off Newcastle United in 17th place.
    Watford, led by Quique Sanchez Flores, who were tipped by many to go straight back down to the Championship before the season began, have performed admirably thus far, and sit in 13th position having collected 16 points from their opening 13 fixtures.
    Aston Villa will go into the game without Jack Grealish, who has been demoted to the under 21 squad by Garde after being pictured in a nightclub after the 4-0 loss on Merseyside. Garde, who was disappointed with an apparent lack of professionalism, has indicated that the talented twenty year old will remain there for the foreseeable future. Villa will also be without Jordan Amavi, who is out for the season with a serious knee injury, while Gary Gardner and Tiago Ilori will not be considered for selection as they are still short of match fitness.
    Goals have been a real problem for Villa this season, with only ten league goals so far this term, and this will not be helped by Gabby Agbonlahor’s ongoing calf problem. Agbonlahor is still struggling and is rated 50/50, which means Jordan Ayew, scorer of Villa’s last two Premier League goals against Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur, could continue in attack. Other options would be the aerial threat of Rudy Gestede, Scott Sinclair could play a more central role, while forgotten man Libor Kozak is also available for selection.
    The Hornets have been one of the league’s surprise packages, and their good start has been built on a solid defence, having conceded only 14 so far this term. They have, however, also struggled for goals, scoring only two more than Villa. Seven of those have come from 26 year old Nigerian Odion Ighalo, who has adapted seamlessly to life in the Premier League. Strike partner and club captain, Troy Deeney, struggled to find the net at first, but has now bagged three goals in his last four appearances.

    Ighalo has over half his side's league goals this season.
    Flores has an almost full strength squad to pick from, with only defenders Sebastian Prodl and Joel Ekstrand missing with calf and knee problems respectively, so Watford could line up with the same side that were unfortunate to lose 2-1 to a late Manchester United goal last time out.
    I think it will a tight, low scoring affair, with not much to choose between the two sides. This is reflected in the odds offered on the game, with Villa slight favourites at 17/10, Watford just behind at 15/8, and the draw available at 21/10. There appears to be good value in the total goals under/over market, with under 2.5 goals priced at 6/10.

    Prediction: Aston Villa 0-0 Watford (odds - 8/5). Garde is trying to solidify his side first and foremost, so the onus on his players will be to keep it tight at the back. Watford have a good defensive set up, and will be the happier of the two sides if the leave with an away point to add to their tally.
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    Item Reviewed: Aston Villa v Watford - Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Conall Green
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