Graphic: Why Tim Sherwood should select this Villa XI versus Crystal Palace

Selhurst Park - Crystal Palace - 23/02/2014

Crystal Palace host Aston Villa on Saturday.

Aston Villa’s third game of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign sees them travel to South London in order to take on an ever-improving Crystal Palace side.

Villa have started the season solidly enough considering the vast changes in personnel over the summer, beating Bournemouth 1-0 before losing by the same score-line at home to Manchester United.

Performances have been good, and on Saturday they will face an entirely different test at a rowdy Selhurst Park and they must be up for the challenge both mentally and physically.

Back five:

Over the past two games, Villa have given little away in terms of chances and their back five have been impressive, despite Leandro Bacuna not really being a natural right-back.

On Saturday, centre-back duo Micah Richards and Ciaran Clark will likely be tested by Palace’s excellent target man Glenn Murray and they must remain tight and not allow him to dictate play.

Midfield trio:

Jordan Veretout had an uneventful evening against United and a trip to Palace is arguably not ideal for his style of play, especially against a physical team who will apply plenty of pressure in midfield.

Villa will need strong bodies in the middle, therefore Sherwood should consider bringing in the defensive-minded Carlos Sanchez to play alongside Idrissa Gueye and Ashley Westwood.

The Eagles’ record signing Yohan Cabaye will look to get on the ball and instigate attacks from deep, therefore Villa must remain disciplined and adopt a compact midfield.

Attacking trio:

Gabriel Agbonlahor was disappointing last Friday, and the 28-year-old’s influence seems to be on the wane as teammate Scott Sinclair is currently providing a much bigger threat in the final third.

Sinclair’s pace and ability to get up and down the left flank will prove important on Saturday, especially against the tricky Wilfried Zaha who will look to exploit any space in the wide areas.

But the big question will be who ought to start down Villa’s right - Agbonlahor or Ayew? At Selhurst Park, the latter ought to get the nod with his reliability in possession a major factor.

Rudy Gestede completes the line-up through the middle, and his inclusion could ultimately prove the difference as Palace’s centre-back duo drop deep and boast plenty of height and strength.

Damien Delaney and Scott Dann stand at 6ft 3inch and 6ft 5inch respectively, therefore in an expected battle Villa ought to fight fire with fire and deploy their very own battering ram through the middle.

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