By Villa News Speaking to Alan Hutton

9th Nov, 2023 | 12:10pm

Aston Villa early team news: Emi Martinez to be dropped in at least four changes v AZ Alkmaar

We’re delighted to welcome former Aston Villa full-back Alan Hutton as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Villa Park…

Alan Hutton expects Emiliano Martinez to be rested for Aston Villa’s Europa Conference League clash with AZ Alkmaar this week.

Unai Emery’s men welcome the Dutch side at Villa Park on Thursday night (9 November) knowing that a victory will set them on their way towards qualifying for the knock-out stages.

As it stands, the Villans are second in Group E after three games and a win against AZ could mean they go top if Zrinjski can take at least a point off Legia Warsaw.

Martinez, 31, has played in all three of Villa’s Conference League group games so far but Hutton reckons the Argentina international will be rested this week after a poor performance in the 2-0 loss at Nottingham Forest at the weekend.

Hutton believes Robin Olsen will come in for the ex-Arsenal man against AZ Alkmaar, while he also predicts Leander Dendoncker, Youri Tielemans and – if he’s fit – Jhon Duran to start.

“It’s a must-win,” Hutton told Villa News.

I don’t think Martinez will be dropped because of the last game but I think he’ll be rested. I think Olsen will come in as well as the likes of Dendoncker and Tielemans.

It’s kind of like the squad he reverted to in previous games but one issue is Duran. I don’t know how long he’s out for but does somebody come in and play as a false nine or do they continue with Diaby or Watkins?

There’ll be changes, maybe four or five changes.”

Martinez won the best goalkeeper award at the Balon d’Or last week but followed that up with conceding two long-range goals in the loss at Nottingham Forest on Sunday (5 November).

He’s only missed three matches this season.

In other Aston Villa news, a £50million transfer claim has been made about Douglas Luiz amid recent speculation.