Aston Villa travels to Riverside Stadium in a quick 72-hour turnaround in the EFL Championship. Can the claret and blue attack break down the steel walls that is Tony Pulis’ defense?
Tony Pulis loves a strong defense.
So it’s no surprise his Middlesbrough club lead in fewest goals conceded by seven. Through 19 league matches, Darren Randolph has had to pick the ball out of his net just 10 times. Sometimes playing five centre-backs across the back line has its advantages; Boro sit in third-place with nine wins, eight draws, and two losses on the season.
This is a Jekyll and Hyde matchup between the en fuego attack of Aston Villa and the grinding defense of Middlesbrough.
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Who comes out on top?
Aston Villa Predicted XI (4-3-3): Nyland; Elmohamady, Tuanzebe, Chester, Taylor; Hourihane, McGinn, Grealish; Bolasie, Abraham, Kodjia.
Substitutes: Bunn, Whelan, Doyle-Hayes, O’Hare, El Ghazi, Hogan, 7. Hepburn-Murphy/Davis/Bedeau???
Villa will likely line-up in a similar manner as they did vs. Nottingham Forest. Alan Hutton is suspended after an accumulation of yellow cards, so expect Ahmed Elmohamady to replace.
Mile Jedinak, James Bree, Birkir Bjarnason, Henri Lansbury, Albert Adomah, and Keinan Davis are all out injured. That bench spot to replace Hutton could be anyone’s, but a defender is sorely needed.
Yannick Bolasie is a good bet to start once more on the wing, but we could see Anwar El Ghazi replace Jonathan Kodjia as a more solidified defensive presence.
WHEN: Saturday, 1 December, 2018 @ 12:30 p.m. EST / 17:30 GMT
WHERE: Riverside Stadium
PREDICTION: 1-1 draw (El Ghazi)
I like Villa to get a result on Saturday. Boro have been the better team on the year, but Villa’s recent form is catching up. This is a really good tactical matchup between two different managers.