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Dec 28, 2019 at 3pm UK
Aston Villa
Deeney (42', 67' pen.), Sarr (71')
Mariappa (57')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Watford vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Watford vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Watford and Aston Villa, including team news and predicted lineups.

Two teams inside the Premier League relegation zone will lock horns on Saturday afternoon as Watford welcome Aston Villa for what should be a fascinating affair.

Watford are currently 19th in the table with 13 points, five points behind 18th-placed Villa, who picked up a morale-boosting 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers Norwich on Thursday afternoon.

Match preview

There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a desperately poor campaign for Watford thus far, but it would also be fair to say that the team has shown great improvement since Nigel Pearson joined the club.

The Hornets picked up a huge 2-0 win over Manchester United last weekend and followed that result by drawing 1-1 away to high-flying Sheffield United on Boxing Day.

Four points from their last last two matches, coupled with Norwich's struggles, has seen Watford move off the foot of the table. They are still six points from the safety of 17th position, but there is still a lot of football to be played before the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

The Hertfordshire club have incredibly only scored 12 Premier League goals this season, but Troy Deeney's return has been hugely important, while Gerard Deulofeu impressed against United before putting in another excellent performance against the Blades on Boxing Day.

Watford have also won their last two Premier League matches against Villa, with their last meeting at Vicarage Road taking place in April 2016.

Despite boasting some excellent players and spending heavily over the summer, there is no getting away from the fact that it has also been a struggle for Villa during the 2019-20 campaign.

Dean Smith's side lost four straight Premier League matches between December 4 and December 21 but did manage to pick up a 1-0 win over Norwich on Boxing Day.

Five wins and three draws from 19 matches has brought them 18 points, leaving them one point behind 17th-placed West Ham United, although the Hammers do have a game in hand.

Villa's next two are huge as they travel to Watford and Burnley before the small matter of a home game against Manchester City on January 12, by which point Smith will hope to be out of the relegation zone.

It is also set to be an interesting January in terms of transfers, with Villa chiefs believed to be considering another busy window in a bid to fight off the threat of relegation back to the second tier.

Watford Premier League form: LLDLWD

Aston Villa Premier League form: DLLLLW

Team News

Watford could welcome Abdoulaye Doucoure back into their XI with the midfielder available following a one-match ban, with Nathaniel Chalobah expected to drop out of the side.

A knock at Bramall Lane could rule Ismaila Sarr out of contention, with Roberto Pereyra on standby to feature.

The Hornets will also again be without Jose Holebas, Danny Welbeck, Sebastian Prodl, Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley, but Andre Gray and Isaac Success are among the options for possible change.

As for Villa, Jed Steer, Keinan Davis and John McGinn remain on the sidelines, while Tyrone Mings is unlikely to be risked despite making progress in his return from a hamstring problem.

Smith is expected to make changes from Thursday's clash, with Conor Hourihane, Jota, Frederic Guilbert and Bjorn Engels all pushing to make the XI.

Wesley should continue at the tip of the attack, though, despite the presence of Jonathan Kodjia.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Mariappa, Kabasele, Cathcart, Kiko; Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes; Pereyra, Deeney, Deulofeu

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Hause, Targett; Luiz, Hourihane; Jota, Grealish, El Ghazi; Wesley

We say: Watford 1-1 Aston Villa

It is difficult to call this game a relegation six-pointer at this stage of the season, but both managers will be desperate for a positive result this weekend. Watford have shown huge improvement under Pearson, although we expect Villa to pick up something for their efforts as both sides will be dealing with fatigue.

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