£12m gem returns & Barkley left out, Smith makes big call: AVFC’s predicted XI vs CPFC – opinion

£12m gem returns & Barkley left out, Smith makes big call: AVFC’s predicted XI vs CPFC – opinion

If at the start of the season Aston Villa fans hoped their club wouldn’t be involved in a relegation battle by the time Christmas rolled around, then they must be absolutely bouncing at seeing their side’s incredible start to the Premier League campaign.

Dean Smith’s side have been the undoubted surprise packages of the season, particularly when you consider how they survived relegation back to the Championship on the final day of last season.

Heading into their Boxing Day clash against Crystal Palace, Smith will be keen to keep this momentum going, and below is a look at just how Villa might line up on Saturday afternoon.

In goal, Emiliano Martinez will look to continue his fantastic start to life at Villa Park, having helped his new side in becoming one of the meanest defences in the Premier League with just 13 goals conceded.

The back four could see one big change, with the £12m Ezri Konsa back in first-team training and likely to come straight back in for Kortney Hause who has deputised for him whilst he’s been out injured.

Both John McGinn and Douglas Luiz should be the central midfield duo once again, whilst Smith has a massive call to make over whether he brings Ross Barkley into the team based on how his fitness is during the week.

The England international has been out of action since picking up a hamstring injury in the early moments of the Brighton game, and Anwar El Ghazi laid down his case to keep his starting spot with a brace in the win over West Brom.

Smith may feel that with games coming thick and fast, and El Ghazi in form, it may be wise to just hold Barkley back for this game, and potentially bringing him off the bench to ease him back into action.

Predicted XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz; Traore, Grealish, El Ghazi, Watkins.

The post Aston Villa’s predicted XI to face Crystal Palace in the Premier League first appeared on FootballFanCast.com.