Aston Villa’s early signs of promise under Remi Garde came to a grinding halt last weekend as they were thumped at Everton, and the Premier League’s bottom club host Watford still looking for their first home win of 2015/16.
The hosts are searching for their first three points since the opening day, and their tally of five points from their opening 13 games is the lowest that Villa have ever recorded in a Premier League season.
No team has scored less goals than Villa’s 10 to date, whilst only three sides have conceded more than the 24 that Garde’s men have shipped. In theory, a home game against a mid-table side is the ideal chance to kick-start their season; the home fans have witnessed enough poor performances at Villa Park in recent seasons to know that the reality is far from that simple.
Watford go into the game looking for their first ever Premier League goal against Villa having failed to notch in the four previous meetings between the sides; their last two visits to the West Midlands have ended in 2-0 and 4-0 reverses respectively.
Quique Sanchez Flores’ side were unlucky to slip to a last-gasp 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United last time out, but will be content with sitting seven points above the drop zone at this stage of the season.
The Hornets’ away form to date has been strangely symmetrical; they have won two, drawn two and lost two in their six matches on the road so far, scoring eight and conceding eight along the way. Their impressive wins have come at Newcastle and Stoke, and they will be confident that they can add to their tally of away wins this weekend.
Jack Grealish has been dropped from the Villa side after enjoying a night out after his side’s reverse at Goodison Park last weekend.
Rudy Gestede will be looking for a place in the starting XI after he was on the substitutes’ bench for last weekend’s defeat at Everton, while Gabby Agbonlahor and Jores Okore could return to the squad after injury.
For the visitors, Sebastian Prodl and Joel Ekstrand are still sidelined, meaning that Miguel Britos should continue at the heart of the Hornets’ defence, while Nathan Ake could be named in the starting line-up.
League Position: Aston Villa – 20th (5 pts); Watford – 13th (16 pts)
Last Meeting: Aston Villa 2-0 Watford (January 20, 2007)
Form: Aston Villa – LLLLDL; Watford – DLWWLL
Key Players: Aston Villa – Rudy Gestede; Watford – Troy Deeney
Shoot Says: Aston Villa 1-1 Watford