Aston Villa v Crystal Palace predictions: free betting tips and where to watch
Villa can enhance home record against porous Palace
Free football tips, best bets and analysis for Aston Villa v Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday.
Where to watch
BBC1, 3pm Saturday
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Wesley and Trezeguet remain sidelined but Ross Barkley and Ezri Konsa should return to the squad.
Christian Benteke is available to face his former club after suspension and James Tomkins has recovered from injury.
Aston Villa fans have been feeling festive ever since their club confirmed their Premier League status on the final day of last season and Boxing Day visitors Crystal Palace are unlikely to burst their bubble.
Villa have made a wonderful start to the 2020-21 campaign, treating their supporters to an astonishing 7-2 home win over champions Liverpool as well as away victories over Leicester, Arsenal and Midlands rivals Wolves and West Brom.
Manager Dean Smith was delighted with the ruthless performance in last weekend's 3-0 win over the ten-man Baggies and his side are delivering at both ends of the pitch.
The clean sheet at West Brom was a seventh shutout in 12 games for former Arsenal goalkeeper Emi Martinez, while Villa's attacking unit, inspired by brilliant captain Jack Grealish, averages two goals per game in the league this term.
If there is an area for improvement then it is their home form. Five of Villa's seven wins have come on the road and they lost three in a row on their own patch against Leeds, Southampton and Brighton in October and November.
However, more home wins are bound to come if they maintain the performance level they showed in last week's goalless draw with Burnley.
Villa had 27 attempts on Nick Pope's goal – Smith said it was "enough chances to win two games, maybe even three" – and they could welcome back impressive Chelsea loanee Ross Barkley against Palace.
Even if the England midfielder is not fit enough to start, Palace's defenders will have their hands full against Grealish, John McGinn, Bertrand Traore, Anwar El Ghazi and striker Ollie Watkins.
The dynamic Grealish is rarely short of confidence, El Ghazi has scored three times in his last three appearances and had eight shots against Burnley and Watkins, last season's Championship top scorer, has made a fine start to his top-flight career.
While Villa put seven goals past Liverpool on that never-to-be-forgotten Sunday in October, Palace conceded seven against the champions last weekend.
That was partly due to some stunning finishing from the Reds, who scored with seven of their eight shots on target, but it also underlined the weakness of the Eagles defence.
Palace beat Southampton 1-0 in their opening game but have not kept a clean sheet in 13 subsequent league fixtures and have been beaten to nil at Chelsea, Wolves and Burnley.
Their attack looks sharper than last season with Eberechi Eze easing the creative burden on Wilfried Zaha but Villa are far more progressive and they should cause serious problems for a creaking Palace defence.
Crystal Palace have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 13 league games.
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