Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa – Pre-game Assessment

Sunday, May 20, 16:00 – Selhurst Park

Referee: Darren Bond

The biggest question about our Villans’ preparation for this fixture concerned how long they would be celebrating their breaking into the Premier League’s top four and qualifying for the UEFA Champions League next season.  Those celebrations started on Tuesday when Manchester City beat Spurs and made it impossible for the London team, who started the season with a bang but stumbled, to overtake us.

With nothing to play for but pride, our Villans are in a similar situation as our hosts, Crystal Palace, who are in the middle of the pack with no chance of qualifying for Europe.  Selhurst Park fans are likely to have a more positive perspective. With a win against a top-four team, they can go into the summer break more optimistic about their future.

They have always been enthusiastic fans but, of late, they have had good reason. Let’s start with their new manager Austrian Oliver Glasner who took over in February.  He has already transformed the way that Palace attack.  The combination of striker Mateta, supported by Eze and Olise, with phenom Adam Wharton pulling the strings in midfield has made them the current hottest team in the league after Man City and Arsenal.

With smart signings of evolving talent, they are turning into this year’s Brighton, having already put £60 million ($76 million USD) price tags on Eze and Olise knowing that it will be a matter of time before they are attracted to an elite team. That way the team can reinvest the profit they earn into more talent.

Meanwhile, the Palace fans will have come to appreciate their recent unbeaten streak and will be yelling for more.  The team, and fans, will also be remembering the reverse fixture, back in September, when they carried a 1-0 lead until the 87th minute only to lose 3-1 at Villa Park.  Erasing that reminder of the Roy Hodgson era would be a bonus.

Our Villans, with little to motivate them, are going to be without Tielemans, Zaniolo, and Rogers which means that, with few other options, Iroegbunam may get a chance to play alongside Luiz as holding mid-fielders so McGinn can play in a more advanced position.

I cannot see Emery allowing his success at reaching the UEFA Champions League in only his second season to ease his foot off the accelerator pedal.  He will likely see this as an opportunity for players who have not met expectations to make the most of the occasion.  That will include Diaby who is overdue for a goal. Watkins, who has not scored since his goal at Arsenal four weeks ago, will also be keen to add to his tally.  Douglas Luiz will be motivated to score away from Villa Park, something he has not done all season.

We may need all three to score against a team that put four past Man U. and five past West Ham.

My wishful thinking had me predicting a tie against Liverpool last week and that has emboldened me to see us ending the season on a winning note despite our missing so many key players.

Result Prediction:

Prediction:  Crystal Palace 2, Aston Villa 3

Predicted Villa Line-Up:

Aston Villa: (4, 2, 3, 1) Martinez, Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne, Luiz, Iroegbunam, McGinn, Bailey, Diaby, Watkins

Subs: Olsen, Lenglet, Chambers, Duran, Kesler-Hayden, Kellyman, Munroe

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