Aston Villa host Middlesbrough on Tuesday night and will be looking for just their second win of the season. Villa have struggled this season, especially defensively. But they did keep a clean sheet on Saturday against Brentford and they will be looking to continue that defensive form into the Boro game.
Here is Aston Villa’s predicted line-up.
Aston Villa have used a variety of formations this season. Such as a 3-4-2-1, 4-4-1-1 and a 4-3-3. It was the 4-3-3 that Villa used in their last match which saw them draw 0-0 with Brentford.
This was also the first time Villa kept a clean sheet this season. So, Villa will likely want to stick with the formation that has tightened up their defence somewhat.
GK: Sam Johnstone
Johnstone is on loan at Aston Villa this season from Manchester United. He enjoyed a successful loan spell with Villa in the second half of last season where he managed to keep the most clean-sheets in the Championship from January to the end of the season.
Johnstone has not had the same luck in his return though. Villa have kept just one clean sheet in six Championship games. Despite this Johnstone is still a good keeper and will likely start against Middlesbrough.
RB: James Bree
At the beginning of the season, Bree sat on the bench for Villa’s first three league games. However, he has since forced his way into the team at right back.
He completed his first full 90 minutes for Villa this season at Brentford. This was also the first time Villa have kept a clean sheet which shows Bree is an important part of that defence. Given how bad Villa have been at the back, Steve Bruce will not want to change anything after the Brentford game. So, Bree should start at Boro.
CB: John Terry
Terry to Villa was one of the most surprising transfers of the 2017 summer window. Terry is a world class centre back and the fact he is playing in the Championship is still baffling to many people. Regardless, Villa should be starting Terry every chance they get given his leadership and quality.
CB: James Chester
Chester has been at Aston Villa for some time now and is a main stay in the defence. He has played every Championship minute for them so far this season. He is also forming a good partnership with John Terry. Something Bruce will be hoping to harness in order to prevent Villa from conceding so many goals.
LB: Neil Taylor
Neil Taylor, much like his fellow Welsh defender James Chester, has played every minute of Championship football for Villa this season.
Taylor did play one game as a left midfielder when Villa tried out a three at the back formation. However, Taylor is much better suited to left back which is where he played when Villa kept their clean sheet against Brentford. So, with Villa likely to play four at the back against Boro, Taylor should start left back.
CM: Glenn Whelan
Whelan is one of a plethora of new players that Aston Villa brought in over the summer. Whelan was signed from Stoke City. He brings years of experience with him and so far he has been a key player for Villa this season and will likely start at Boro.
CM: Conor Hourihane
Conor Hourihane was been one of Aston Villa’s best players this season. He did not make an appearance in their first game of the season and in his first game he played left mid.
However, once Bruce moved him to centre mid, he has been fantastic. In his first game there he scored Villa’s only goal in their 2-1 loss to Reading. The game after he was fantastic and scored a hattrick in Villa’s 4-2 win against Norwich.
CM: Henri Lansbury
Josh Onomah would probably have been Steve Bruce’s first choice to start here. However, Onomah picked up an injury against Brentford and is a doubt for the Boro game.
So, Henri Lansbury is the likely replacement. Lansbury is not exactly the same type of player as Onomah. But he can still contribute to Villa’s attack. This is best demonstrated by the fact he has managed to get two assists in just three league appearances this season. Therefore while Onomah would have been the better choice, Lansbury could still cause Middlesbrough some problems.
RW: Robert Snodgrass
Snodgrass is another signing made by Villa this summer and he is one of their best. Snodgrass is a fantastic right winger. He has Championship and Premier League experience and is a very creative player.
In fact Villa’s opponents Boro even tried to sign him last season to solve their creativity problem which shows how good he is. Snodgrass made his Villa debut coming off the bench on Saturday. But he is likely to start the game on Tuesday given his quality.
ST: Scott Hogan
The striker position for Aston Villa has been somewhat of a problem this season. Their main striker Jonathan Kodjia has been out injured since last season. So, Villa have had to look elsewhere. Last game they turned to U23 player Keinan Davis to provide the goals. Unfortunately, he too suffered an injury at Brentford.
So, Villa will now likely turn to Scott Hogan, the man who replaced Davis on Saturday. Hogan is a good Championship striker scoring 22 times in 50 Championship appearances for all his clubs. But he has yet to get off the mark this season in the league. Something Villa will be desperate for him to do against Boro.
LW: Gabriel Agbonlahor
The left wing position is yet another position Villa are short in and yet another position that suffered a blow at Brentford. Andre Green has been Villa’s main left winger this season. But he too looks to miss the Boro game through injury.
Therefore, Agbonlahor is likely to be his replacement. While he is naturally a striker he can play out on the left. Something he has already done once this season and in his one game there he scored for Villa.
This is how they might line up:
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