Aston Villa vs Leicester City Preview: How to watch, kick-off time, team news, predicted lineups and ones to watch
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - FEBRUARY 18: James Maddison of Leicester City during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between Slavia Prague and Leicester City at Sinobo Stadium on February 18, 2021 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

After their 0-0 stalemate against Slavia Prague on Thursday night in the UEFA Europa League, Leicester City are back in Premier League action to face Midland rivals Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Foxes are looking to go unbeaten for a sixth game in a row in all competitions whilst also looking to overtake second place Manchester United who are only ahead of the Foxes on goal difference.

The Foxes have been in incredible form on the road this season, only losing one game away from all season in the Premier League. They have picked up eight more points on the road (27) than they have at home this season (17), so the Foxes will go into this one extremely confident of picking up another three points as they push on to finish the season in the UEFA Champions League places.

Villa on the other hand are having a completely different season to the one they had last season when they escaped relegation on the last day of the season. The Birmingham side currently sit in eighth position and have a couple of games in hand over some of the teams above them.

Compared to this time last season Villa were sat in 17th place only one point above the relegation zone. Dean Smith deserves a lot of credit for how he has transformed this team from relegation favourites to potential European candidates.

Team News

Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that both full backs Timothy Castagne and Ricardo Pereira are fit and available to start against Villa.

Castagne has missed the last five games after suffering a hamstring injury in the 3-1 defeat at home to Leeds United last month.

Pereira was left at home for the trip to Prague on Thursday as the club manage his workload as he continues his comeback from his ACL injury that has left him out since March.

Ayoze Perez will also miss out after suffering a knee injury in the 3-1 win over Liverpool last weekend.

The only other long-term absentees for the Foxes are Wes Morgan, Dennis Praet, Wesley Fofana and James Justin. /Justin underwent a successful surgery on Thursday night as the 22-year-old begins his rehabilitation on an ACL injury he suffered in the 1-0 FA Cup win against Brighton and Hove Albion just over a week ago.

Dean Smith will be without full back Matty Cash for the visit of Leicester as the English defender recovers from a hamstring strain that will keep him on the side lines for around three weeks.         

Despite rumours on social media that star man Jack Grealish has suffered a damaged shin and would be ruled out for a couple of weeks, there has been no confirmation from the club, so he is presumed to be fit.

Aston Villa XI: Martinez; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn; Traore, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins.

Leicester City XI: Schmeichel; Pereira, Soyuncu, Evans, Castagne; Ndidi, Tielemans; Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy.

Last Meeting

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The two teams last met in the middle of October in the reverse fixture, with both sides having excellent starts to their seasons.

Villa went into this one having won their first three games of the season, albeit playing a game less than the Foxes due to their original season opener against Manchester City having been rearranged.

Leicester went in to this one on the back of a disappointing 3-0 home defeat to West Ham United having themselves won their first three games, including an incredible 5-2 victory away to Manchester City.

The home side who were without Jamie Vardy, struggled to create anything during the game and never really troubled Emi Martinez in the Villa goal apart from a deflected Youri Tielemans shot from long range.

Villa struggled to create clear chances too, with Douglas Luiz curling a shot from 25-yards straight at Kasper Schmeichel.

The points looked like they were going to be shared going into stoppage time before poor defending from Leicester’s perspective, allowed Ross Barkley on loan from Chelsea to be in acres of space on the edge of the box allowing him to fire a low driven shot into the bottom corner leaving Schmeichel hopeless.

It was the first time Villa had won their first four opening top-flight games in 90 years - showing early signs to supporters how different this side was compared to last season.

Ones to Watch

Jamie Vardy

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At the grand old age of 34, the former England international is reaching the latter stages of his career and is still one of the best strikers in the Premier League.

Despite not making his Premier League debut until he was 27, Vardy has gone on to score 115 goals in 231 games meaning he’s the 19th top scorer in the all-time Premier League standings.

So far this season he’s scored 12 goals in 23 appearances and has scored five goals in his past four appearances against Villa including two goals in this same fixture last season.

Having missed the reverse fixture early on in the season, Vardy could be the missing link Leicester need if they are to get revenge over Villa.

Jack Grealish

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Arguably the Premier League’s player of the season, Jack Grealish is showing everyone why he deserves to be starting at the upcoming Euros in the summer.

The Villa captain has already beaten his goal contribution stats for last season having scored six goals and getting 10 assists as well, Grealish is irreplaceable to Villa.

The fact he is also the most fouled player in the league by quite a way shows that his quality is known by the other teams in the league.

His ability to create a chance out of nothing is second to none and at 25-years of age, he still has a large amount of his career ahead of him. He is arguably England’s most exciting player at the moment and if Leicester struggle to contain him, Villa could be in for a fun afternoon.

Pre-Match Thoughts

Speaking to the media before the game Brendan Rodgers spoke of Leicester’s impressive away form this season.

He said: “Whether the stadium is empty or full, it’s about winning the game. We’ve shown a real toughness in our team and that gets you through games. We have to, fundamentally, defend well.”

He also praised Villa for their performances this season and praised the influence of Jack Grealish.

He added: “They’ve been fantastic this season. There was a lot that Dean had to deal with last season, and they’ve stabilised everything. Jack Grealish is one of the top players at this level that makes everyone better.”

Meanwhile, Dean Smith praised Leicester’s progression as a club over the past couple of years, claiming that he now sees the Foxes as one of the Premier League's clubs that’s breaking into the traditional ‘Big Six’.

He said: “I think they’ve become one of the big ones [clubs]. The winning of the Premier League a few years ago catapulted them into that group.

“With the season they had last year they were very unfortunate to miss out on the top four. I think they would have made it if we hadn’t gone into Lockdown.

“They’ve continued to impress this season and it doesn’t surprise me. I would certainly put them up there as one of the teams that’s breaking into that big six.”

How to Watch

The game is available to watch on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event and is the second game in their Super Sunday schedule after West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspur.

Sky’s coverage begins at 11am however Aston Villa vs Leicester City doesn’t kick off till 14:05pm.

Alternatively you can keep up to date with live text updates on the VAVEL website and Leicester VAVEL Twitter page.

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