May 3, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT
For the fourth season in a row, Aston Villa find themselves in a relegation battle, absolutely needing a win at Villa Park today over visiting Hull City (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).
Back when Villa beat Chelsea on March 15, fans felt confident that they wouldn’t spend the final weeks of the season fearing the drop. But with just one points from the six games following, the Lions are right back in the relegation battle, sitting just three points into safety. With games against Manchester City and Tottenham to round out the season, the side knows that this game against Hull is an absolute must win.
Yet Hull, while comfortable, aren’t entirely sure of safety yet either, and could use three points as insurance in case the sides below them win out. Last week the Tigers proved that they’ve got the goods, coming back from 2-0 down to draw Fulham in the final fifteen minutes. Will they now pile pressure on early, possibly condemning Villa to a season in the Championship?
After losing 4-1 at Swansea last week, Paul Lambert has reverted back to a conservative lineup, putting out five defenders in a flexible 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 formation. Considering Villa needs a win, rather than a point, this could really backfire on the manager. Karim El Ahmadi makes way, while Ciaran Clark joins up with Nathan Baker and Ron Vlaar at the back. Matthew Lowton replaces Leandro Bacuna on the right.
Steve Bruce decides to go against family lines, replacing Alex Bruce with Maynor Figueroa at the back. After the comeback last week, the rest of the side remains unchanged, with Shane Long and Nikica Jelavić, last week’s scorers, remaining in place up top.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Bertrand, Westwood, Delph, Albrighton, Agbonlahor, Weimann
Subs: Steer, Bacuna, Sylla, Holt, Robinson, Bowery, El Ahmadi
Hull City: Rosenior, Figueroa, Chester, Davies, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Jelavic, Long, Elmohamady
Subs: Jakupovic, Bruce, Koren, Fryatt, Boyd, Sagbo, Quinn
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