Dean Smith and his men will barely have time to digest their exhilarating (if you’re a neutral) 5-5 draw against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday evening as they now have to prepare for a tricky away match against Middlesbrough on Saturday evening.
In an ideal world, with three difficult games in the space of six days, Smith would rotate his squad, but this is not an ideal world, and Villa currently have Albert Adomah, Birkir Bjarnason, Mile Jedinak, Henri Lansbury, Keinan Davis, and Rushian Hepburn Murphy all nursing injuries.
Smith will be forced into making at least one change as Alan Hutton is suspended for this match after picking up his fifth booking against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.
Middlesbrough are currently sitting 3rd in the table, 7 points above Villa in 8th place. The home side has the tightest defence in the league, having conceded just ten goals in 19 matches, so Villa will need their attack to be on point if they are to get anything from this match.
Here is our predicted XI for Saturday’s match at the Riverside.
GK: Orjan Nyland
Nyland had another shocking display for Villa against Nottingham Forest, but we’re probably stuck with him in goal until January.
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady
Alan Hutton is suspended for this match, so we expect to see Elmohamady starting at right-back.
CB: James Chester
Chester had another poor game against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, but he will definitely start again on Saturday.
CB: Axel Tuanzebe
Tuanzebe, despite having a poor match on Wednesday, has been Villa’s best defender since Smith took over. He will almost certainly start alongside Chester on Saturday.
LB: Neil Taylor
Not many fans rate Taylor as a defender, but as our only natural left-footed senior defender, he will likely start once more.
RM: Yannick Bolasie
With Adomah still injured, we expect to see Bolasie get his second start for Aston Villa.
CM: John McGinn
McGinn has been one of Villa’s standout performers this season and is one of the first names on the teamsheet when fit.
CM: Conor Hourihane
Smith will be hoping that Hourihane can help unlock the tightest defence in the league.
CM: Jack Grealish
Under Bruce, Grealish looked rather disinterested, but under Smith he has gotten his mojo back. He will definitely be starting on Saturday.
LM: Jonathan Kodjia
Kodjia’s preferred position is up front, but with Abraham in the form that he is in, he will likely have to settle for starting on the wing again.
ST: Tammy Abraham
Abraham has been on fire lately with 6 goals in his last 3 matches. He will definitely be leading the line again on Saturday.