By Pranav Shahaney

13th Sep, 2023 | 6:10pm

Aston Villa predicted XI v Crystal Palace: Nicolo Zaniolo to be handed start

Unai Emery will want his Aston Villa side to return to winning ways v Crystal Palace after a disappointing 3-0 defeat against Liverpool.

The Villans will host the London club on Saturday (16 September) and a win will get them back in the European places, something where they’ll aim to be.

With Diego Carlos ruled out, there’s a very good chance that a back four is what will be deployed with Ezri Konsa partnering Pau Torres.

In the game against Liverpool, per Sofascore, Konsa was involved in multiple defensive actions – making three clearances, three blocks and two interceptions.

He also won his only aerial duel and two out of the three on the ground and completed 94 per cent of his passes – an impressive feat for a player against a high-pressing side like Liverpool.

There’s every reason for Emery to back him alongside Torres with the full-backs picking themselves.

In midfield, Boubacar Kamara, who’s started all four games this season, could make way with John McGinn dropping to a deeper position than what he’s been playing recently

Kamara wasn’t as influential in the air, losing his aerial duel attempt, and against Palace, a side expected to sit back, having someone like McGinn, gives them that added attacking threat.

Villa may have signed Nicolo Zaniolo in the summer but there is big money involved as there is a conditional purchase obligation which will see them pay £19.2million plus £13.2million in add-ons taking the fee beyond £35million including the loan fee.

Emery is expected to give him a start soon and he may come into the eleven against Palace.

In the Liverpool defeat, he played just 25 minutes but managed to make a key pass, won three ground duels and also saw himself making two crucial tackles as well as an interception.

Emery loves all-action midfielders and particularly, if Zaniolo wins the ball back higher up the pitch, there’s a very good chance that Villa end up creating more chances.

Dropping Kamara might be a big call but he could decide to keep him and drop Luiz as well but it’s imperative that Zaniolo is named in the playing eleven.

In other Aston Villa news, a senior attacker is now a doubt for the Crystal Palace game after he suffered a Grade 3 muscle tear.