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After a bright start to his reign as Aston Villa manager, winning four of his opening six matches, Steven Gerrard has since endured a difficult spell, with his side claiming only one win in their last seven across all competitions, including four defeats.
Their most recent disappointment came against a resurgent Newcastle United side, who secured a 1-0 win at St James’ Park courtesy of a Kieran Trippier free kick, which condemned the Villans to their 12th Premier League defeat of the campaign.
Villa, who are currently positioned 12th in the table, are now sitting as many points behind the European places as they are above the relegation zone, with 10 points separating them from Wolverhampton Wanderers in seventh and Norwich City in 18th.
Gerrard’s side head into Saturday’s game as one of only three teams in the Premier League to score in every home fixture this season. While their form in front of goal at Villa Park has been impressive, their defensive frailties have been costly, as they have conceded 18 goals in their last eight top-flight home matches, one more than in their previous 17 combined. As a result, Villa have only won two of their last eight league games on home soil.
Nevertheless, Villa will be confident of returning to winning ways against Watford, who they have only lost once against in their last nine home league meetings.
Aston Villa will be without the suspended Ezri Konsa, while Bertrand Traore (hamstring) and Marvelous Nakamba (knee) remain sidelined with injuries.
Following last weekend’s defeat, Gerrard may decide to make changes to his starting lineup, though a back four of Matty Cash, Calum Chambers, Tyrone Mings and Lucas Digne is set to remain intact, shielding goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
The fine form of midfielder Jacob Ramsey should also see him remain in the first XI, but Morgan Sanson could be selected ahead of either Douglas Luiz and John McGinn.
Danny Ings, who has scored four goals in his last three Premier League games against Watford, will be hoping to force his way into the first XI ahead of Ollie Watkins, who has failed to score in his last six appearances.
As for Watford, they will be without Peter Etebo, Nicolas Nkoulou, Rob Elliott and Kwadwo Baah due to injury.
Star winger Ismaila Sarr, who scored against Villa in the reverse fixture, could return to the first XI at the expense of Juraj Kucka, while Joao Pedro will be looking to replace either Josh King or Emmanuel Dennis.
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January signings Hassane Kamara and Edo Kayembe have both started all three games under Hodgson, and the pair are set to retain their places this weekend at left-back and in centre-midfield respectively.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Chambers, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Sanson, Ramsey; Buendia, Ings, Coutinho
Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Samir, Kamara; Sissoko, Kayembe, Cleverley; Sarr, King, Dennis