Club captain Stilian Petrov could return to the home team's squad whilst Rafael van der Vaart is set for Spurs comeback...Villa Looking To End Boxing Day Hoodoo
The home side entertain Tottenham at 5.30pm on Boxing Day, knowing that they have just recorded one win in their last nine fixtures on the same date. Gerrard Houllier's men will be confident after recording a 2-1 win against local rivals West Bromwich Albion in their last game a fortnight ago, but Spurs will provide a much sterner test.
Villa fans would be forgiven for not being too optimistic for the visit of Harry Redknapp's in-form side as their team have not kept a clean sheet in their last seven Premier League games, with the win against West Brom only their fourth league victory of the season.
Houllier's reign has not started as smoothly as he would have hoped, with fans expecting the club to challenge for the European spots, not to be embroiled in a possible relegation battle. With rumours of a January clear-out on the way, a win against Spurs would be the perfect tonic for Villa fans hoping their side can begin to climb the table.
Spurs Hoping For Excellent Form To Continue
Harry Redknapp's men will arrive at Villa Park in high spirits after recording a credible 1-1 draw against champions Chelsea in their last game and in the middle of an impressive run that has seen them beat fierce rivals Arsenal at the Emirates.
The statistics suggest that Spurs should struggle against Villa - they have not kept a clean sheet for an incredible 16 league games and have only won twice of their 18 Premier League trips to Villa Park.
They have also one just one competitive game against London this season, a remarkable statistic for a team that have qualified top of a Champions League group including Inter Milan and are simultaneously keeping up with the Premier League's top four. Spurs are unbeaten in their last six league games and will hope that their attacking flair continues to cover up their defensive frailties in this Boxing Day clash.
Gerrard Houllier has received an early Christmas present with news that club captain Stiliyan Petrov and fellow midfield Fabian Delph have returned to first team training.
Villa have been without the two players for two and seven months respectively [both knee] but the game against Tottenham on Sunday is likely to come too soon for them to be included in the starting eleven. Houllier has not ruled them out for definite and it is likely that they will be on the bench for the home side.
Defender Luke Young [groin] and the pacy Gabriel Agbonlahor [illness] are slight doubts but are both expected to be passed for fit to be included in the Boxing Day squad.
Possible Starting XI: Friedel; L Young, Cuellar, Collins, Warnock; Albrighton, Bannan, Reo-Coker, Downing; A Young; Heskey.
William Gallas will undergo a fitness test to see if he has fully recovered from the hamstring injury he picked up a fortnight ago.
Ledley King [groin] has trained this week but is not deemed fit enough to play, whilst forgotten man Jonathan Woodgate is not expected to feature until near the end of the season.
Possible Starting XI: Gomes; Hutton, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Modric, Palacios, Bale; Van der Vaart; Defoe.