Aston Villa entertain Hull City at Villa park on Sunday afternoon with both sides going into the game having got off to surprisingly strong starts to the season. However, Villa were knocked out of the Capital One Cup after a shock defeat to Leyton Orient whereas Hull were sent crashing out of the Europa League on Thursday night.
Saying that, neither team have lost either of their two opening games and sit in seventh and sixth in the league table respectively. A win for either team would be seen as an excellent start to the season going into the international break but even a draw would see both teams go unbeaten in their first three games, a prospect which both managers would take with both hands.
Villa come into the game after drawing their first home game of the season in a low-key 0-0 draw. Summer signings such as Cissokho, Hutton and Senderos, alongside Captain Ron Vlaar have helped stabilise Villa’s defensive frailties, keeping clean sheets in both games so far. That being said, they have only scored once in two games and without the likes of Benteke and Kozak, they do lack some firepower upfront. Their surprise opening day win at Stoke provided a good platform going into the next two home games and a win against Hull will be seen as a fantastic start, with a two week break scheduled after this round of fixtures.
Hull City will be pleased and downhearted at the same time having narrowly lost in Europe on away goals even though they won 2-1 against AS Trencin at the KC Stadium in the second leg. They have however started the season impressively and left off from last season in which they comfortable avoided relegation and reached the final of the FA Cup. A crucial 1-0 away win at QPR on the opening day of the season was followed by a dogged display against Stoke. The Tigers played most of the match with 10 men after defender James Chester, who scored the winner against QPR, was sent off making a challenge as the last man. However, Hull were still much the better team throughout the match and took the lead via Nikica Jelavic, only to be pegged back in a 1-1 draw.
Vlaar (Knee) and Cissokho (Ankle) look set to pass fit for the game having picked up knocks in the draw against Newcastle. Both have had good starts to the season and Paul Lambert will want to stick with the same back four that has kept clean sheets in both games so far.
The other two players that are missing are attacking duo Benteke and Kozak who have been out with long term injuries. This puts pressure on Villa’s available forwards who have only scored once in two league and one cup game so far. Bent may be called up to the first eleven if Lambert does want to change his front three in Agbonlahor, Weimaan and N’Zogbia.
James Chester will be missed as he will need to serve a suspension having received a straight red card against Stoke. However, new signing Michael Dawson could make his debut as Chester’s replacement after the former Spurs captain signed for the Tigers early this week.
Robert Snodgrass is the only other notable absentee and is suffering from a long term knee injury. Robbie Brady scored twice in midweek and could be given an opportunity against Villa to make an impact, whether that be from a starting berth or off the bench.
- Aston Villa have won six of their last seven matches against Hull in all competitions.
- Aston Villa and Tottenham are the only two sides not to have conceded so far this season.
- Hull have failed to score in eight of their last nine games against Aston Villa.
- If Hull score it will be the first time they’ve scored in five successive Premier League away games since September 2009.
- Andreas Weimann scored two goals in four minutes in this fixture last season.
- Villa have never kept clean sheets in their opening three Premier League games of the season before.
Previous Head to Heads
May 2013/2014 Aston Villa 3 – 1 Hull City
Oct 2013/2014 Hull City 0 – 0 Aston Villa
Apr 2009/2010 Hull City 0 – 2 Aston Villa
Dec 2009/2010 Aston Villa 3 – 0 Hull City
May 2008/2009 Aston Villa 1 – 0 Hull City
Dec 2008/2009 Hull City 0 – 1 Aston Villa
Aston Villa: Fabian Delph
Fabian Delph was one of the key members in helping his team avoid relegation after a lacklustre 2013/14 campaign for Aston Villa. The English midfielder, who has just earned his first England call up, will be eager to provide a display to prove his worth. One of the main reasons why he is in the England squad is because of his distribution, having been successful with 84% of 1583 passes last season, although his passing accuracy so far this season has only been 76% of his 84 passes. Mainly used as a holding midfielder, Delph needs to be able to intercept the ball and win possession back for his team on a frequent basis, having made 58 interceptions last season and two and two games this season. As well as making interceptions, Delph has also shown he is very successful with his tackles as 49% of his 176 tackles last season being on the money. With all that being said the one part of his game in which he would probably like to improve in is his creativity with only two assists last season from 28 chances created. The 24-year-old will be crucial in combating Hull’s over crowded midfield so prohibit chances being conceded for his team.
Hull City: Nikica Jelavic
With former Hull striker Shane Long now gone to Southampton, with whom Nikica Jelavic formed a tremendous strike partnership with, it is now up to Jelavic to really step up and show why he deserves to be the main man at Hull. Jelavic had a torrid time during the first half of last season with Everton, making only nine appearances, but since he joined Hull in January, he has managed to find some form again and managed to score four goals in the latter half of last season. From his successful stint at Rangers, we know that Jelavic likes to drift in and around the box, hanging on the shoulder of the last man. For this type of role, your instincts need to be very strong and being able to capitalise on any opportunity is crucial and was able to sense a chance when Huddlestone’s shot was saved against Stoke, only for the Croatian to pounce and record his first goal this season. The goal was scored from Jelavic’s only attempt in the game and whilst also registered a 45% shot accuracy last season, the 29-year-old will be keen on unleashing a few more shots on goal to make his chances count.
Hull have impressed me with their start and have been hard working and workman like in their displays. Even though they were knocked out of Europe in midweek, they still won the game which I think will prove to be a positive going into this game so I think Steve Bruce’s men will come out victorious.
My Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Hull City
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