Aston Villa - Sunderland Preview: Black Cats look to keep up good form under Di Canio

The Wearsiders are looking to avoid defeat at Villa Park for the fourth season in a row while Paul Lambert's side must improve at home to ensure Premier League survival


Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett
El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph, N'Zogbia
Agbonlahor, Benteke


Bardsley, O'Shea, Cueller, Rose
Larsson, Gardner, N'Diaye, Johnson

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert may opt to stick with the same team that lost to Manchester United last time out. Joe Bennett (ankle) picked up an injury during the defeat at Old Trafford but should be fit to face the Black Cats, if not Ciaran Clark could fill in at left-back.

Karim El Ahmadi could come into the team after a decent performance against the Red Devils, expect either Charles N'Zogbia or Andreas Weimann to make way if he does with Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood continuing in the centre of midfield.

Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio welcomes back the duo of Phil Bardsley and Craig Gardner for the trip to Villa Park. Bardsley has recovered from an ankle knock which kept him out of the win against Everton last week and he should replace Jack Colback at right-back.

Gardner, meanwhile, has returned from a two-game suspension after picking up his 10th booking of the season at Chelsea three weeks ago. Di Canio will still be without long-term absentees Lee Cattermole and Wes Brown (both knee) as well as Steven Fletcher (ankle).

  • Aston Villa have the second worst defence in the Premier League this season, conceding 63 goals, only Reading (65) have conceded more.
  • Paul Lambert's side have taken seven points out of a possible 21 at Villa Park in 2013.
  • Christian Benteke (pictured right) has scored 19 goals for Villa in all competitions this season, including four in his last six Premier League games.
  • Sunderland haven't been beaten at Villa Park since the 2008-09 season when goals from John Carew and Ashley Young won the game for the Villans.
  • The Black Cats have been revitalised under Paolo Di Canio, taking six points from their last three games after going nine games previously without a win.