Connor Wickham talks up Villa's biggest strengths ahead of weekend clash

Sunderland striker believes that his side are in for a tough test when they meet Aston Villa this weekend.

Sunderland striker Connor Wickham has talked up the qualities of Aston Villa on the Black Cats' official site

Sunderland host Villa this weekend and Wickham appears under no illusions as to how tough a test it will be.

The 21-year-old forward remembers how well Villa played when the two sides met earlier in the season, in a match which finished 0-0, and he is wary of the threat they can pose.

Wickham says that Villa's ability to retain possession and stretch the play makes them a dangerous outfit, but he hopes the home advantage will pay off on Saturday.

“They made it difficult when we played them at Villa Park," he admitted. "We know that they can move the ball and make the pitch big.

"This time around it is at our stadium so will be on the front-foot and we know that the atmosphere and the supporters will be right behind us.”

Despite Wickham's words of praise, Villa actually haven't performed as they would have been hoping this campaign. 

The Claret and Blue have improved under Tim Sherwood, but they have still scored the fewest goals of any side in the Premier League and will need to increase their attacking threat if they are to avoid the drop.

Sunderland, too, have struggled in front of goal this term and it means that a high scoring contest at the Stadium of Light isn't to be expected.

It looks more likely that the game could be separated by the finest of margins, but both sides will be determined to come out on top as it would be a major step towards safety. 

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch