Aston Villa are set to host Crystal Palace at Villa Park on Saturday in the Premier League.
The Villans come into this game on the back of a 3-0 loss to Liverpool. They are 10th in the table, having won two and drawn as many from their opening four league fixtures.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, beat Wolves 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at Selhurst Park before the international break. They are three places above Palace, having won twice, lost once and drawn once so far.
As both teams will look to start the post-international break on a positive note, here are key battles that could define the outcome of this fixture.
#Odsonne Edouard vs Pau Torres
Odsonne Edouard has played a key role in Palace’s solid start to the 2023/24 season. He has bagged three goals in four outings, including a brace in the 3-2 win over Wolves before the international break.
The Frenchman is certain to lead the line for the Eagles against Villa, and he will be keen to add to his goal tally. Following injuries to Tyrone Mings and Diego Carlos, Pau Torres must take extra responsibility to marshal the troops from the back for Villa.
Torres has endured a rough start to life as a Villa player, showing signs of early struggles in big defeats to Newcastle and Liverpool. So, how the Spaniard bounces back and keeps an in-form Edouard quiet on Saturday will be interesting to watch.
#Moussa Diaby vs Cheick Doucoure
At the other end of the pitch, Moussa Diaby could pose a huge threat to the Palace backline. The Frenchman has seamlessly adapted to the demands of Premier League football and has been Villa’s best player so far, registering two goals and an assist in four appearances.
In Emery’s 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1 system, Diaby will play off Ollie Watkins up front and the duo will look to combine well in the final third. Stopping Diaby from running at the Palace backline and receiving passes in half spaces will be key, and Roy Hodgson may task Cheick Doucoure to man-mark the Villa forward.
Strong, tenacious and combative, Doucoure excels in tackling and winning back possession for his team. Nullifying Diaby’s threat will be his primary assignment in this clash and it remains to be seen who emerges on top in this battle.
#Eberechi Eze vs Boubacar Kamara
It can be stated that Eberechi Eze is currently among the most exciting young players in the Premier League as his presence has been remarkable for Palace in the last six to nine months. He has once again started the season in fine form and it’s no surprise that the creative midfielder is regularly making the England squad.
Monitoring Eze’s movements in midfield is tough as he’s fast and skilful in the final third. Similarly, the England international’s potential presence is a clear indication that Boubacar Kamara will have his work cut out.
Kamara has been a key cog in midfield for Emery’s side, starting all four league games to date. The Frenchman’s passing ability and defensive intuition have been great as well. It will be fascinating to see if he will be able to keep Eze under control at Villa Park.