By Anthony Onifade

2nd Nov, 2023 | 9:10am

Nicolo Zaniolo and Matty Cash to be axed by Unai Emery in two changes - Aston Villa predicted XI v Nottingham Forest

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery could be set to make two changes to his starting eleven when they travel across the Midlands to take on Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Sunday (5 November).

The Villans secured their third successive victory in all competitions with a 3-1 Premier League win against Luton Town on Sunday (29 October) and they’ll look to make it four in their Midlands derby clash against Steve Cooper’s men.

Sunday’s result means Villa have an impressive 22 points from 10 Premier League games as they continue their fine form under manager Unai Emery, securing their 12th home win in a row.

Emery may well be tempted to stick with the same side which comfortably beat Luton at the weekend but some worrying performances from two of his stars could force him into changes.

Emiliano Martinez will be mightily disappointed he did come away with a clean sheet on Sunday after strange circumstances as a header by Ezri Konsa bounced back off the bar and in off the Argentinian who was rarely called into action with Luton having just one shot on target all game [SofaScore].

Martinez brilliantly commanded his box when he needed to, making one save and three high claims but will certainly need to be more alert when he comes up against an intimidating atmosphere at the City Ground.

And the defence is where Emery may well be tempted to make a critical change and that is dumping Matty Cash for a more defensive and safe approach.

The Pole registered two key passes and did complete 92% of his passes against Luton Town but only won two duels and such lapses in defending could be costly up against Forest’s threat.

The Spaniard could call Diego Carlos back into the team and Konsa to feature at right back to provide more defensive solidity up against Forest’s speed on the counter.

Also, it will allow Digne the freedom of the left flank should Konsa be handed a more reserved role as a three-man rest defence when in possession.

In midfield, McGinn will be expected to continue his revolutionary wide role after another masterclass on Sunday, where as well as scoring the opener, the Scot won five of his seven duels, completed his two dribble attempts (100%), made one tackle and completed 89% of his passes in a fine all-round display.

The Scot should line up on that left flank providing Digne with the safe haven he needs when he marauds forward but the right flank should see the in-form Leon Bailey come in to replace Nicolo Zaniolo who has proven an unfortunate dud in recent games.

The on-loan attacker did his best to force a goal in the opening stages but he couldn’t quite make an impression, with Zaniolo missing one big chance and not completing either of his two dribble attempts (0%) before being subbed at half-time for the Jamaican international.

Bailey so far has three goals and two assists in his last four games for club and country and it’s time Emery rewards with him a first Premier League start since August [SofaScore].

Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara should continue their dynamic and flawless partnership at the heart of the midfield, winning nine duels between them against Luton, whilst also successfully completing 91% and 93% of their passes respectively.

In attack, Moussa Diaby returned to the Aston Villa scoresheet on Sunday – his first goal for the club since August but even if he didn’t score, his unique threat both in transitions and in the half-space makes him such a destructive commodity but also a guaranteed starter for Emery.

Ollie Watkins should continue to line up alongside him and will be hoping to continue his goalscoring run after surprisingly drawing a blank on Sunday after missing two big chances [SofaScore].

Another win on Sunday could well take the Villans into the top four but Sunday presents a much tougher task than the one they faced last time out. However, given the rising expectations within the camp right now, it’s one they should come through unscathed and with all three points.

In other Aston Villa news, a Villa youngster could be rewarded with a new long-term deal at Villa Park following his exceptional progress.