Lambert Hoping to Continue New Year’s Day Record as Millen Praises Hard-Working Palace

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace 2014/15

It’s typical Villa luck that Crystal Palace will most likely head into this game with a new manager (Alan Pardew) in the ranks and this usually gives teams a big boost. Villa did beat Palace recently though, and it’s possible that Palace will be distracted by the managerial merry-go-round…

Lambert on Palace

“We know it’ll be a hard game but we’re playing well and passing the ball really well.

“All we need to do is finish our good play off and let’s see what happens.

“[The Sunderland result] was a good point, it was a tough game, but we’re at home. We just have to open teams up and try get that goal.

“It’ll be a hard game, whether a new manager comes in or it’s Keith.”

Millen on Villa

“We will continue to get on with our job and prepare for Aston Villa – the reaction we got at QPR was exactly what I was after.

“I enjoy working with this group of players. You could see that the lads pulled together and worked really hard for each other.

“We played well against Villa earlier this season and we’ll take confidence from that and will go there looking for a result.”

Memory Match

14th March 1998 Aston Villa 3 Crystal Palace 1

A goal from Ian Taylor in the first minute followed by a brace from Savo Milosevic secured all three points for Villa.

Villa – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 3, L 1

Palace – Last five matches away: D 3, L 2

Villa have won twice in the last five meetings between the two teams at Villa Park in all competitions.

One to Watch

Yannick Bolasie – the winger is capable of causing any defenders trouble on his day and is likely to be a target for many in the January transfer window

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

Having scored only once in our last four games there’s cause for concern ahead of this game, especially if Palace have that new manager boost. Of the 17 teams who remained in the Premier League in the calendar year of 2014, Villa scored the fewest goals.

The possession-based approach was evident against Sunderland until Delph’s sending off but few chances were created. There’s an eerie sense of deja vu ahead of the Palace clash – last season in this fixture Villa had around 65% possession but conceded in the 90th minute.

History, both recent and not so recent, indicates goals may not be plentiful on New Year’s Day. While Villa have only scored twice against Palace in their last five league meetings, Palace have scored once in each of their last four league trips to Villa Park. It’s easy to disregard such historical stats but they do highlight the issue of Villa’s goalscoring, one that has been ongoing for quite some time.

If Pardew does take over at the London club we might be in trouble – Lambert has never beaten a Pardew side as Villa manager!

What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide

In the last appetiser we hoped for more discipline but unfortunately saw yet another red card. Hopefully Villa won’t be quite so predictable this time around – and it will be important not to be too nervous against a Palace side who will probably have confidence instilled by a new manager.

Villa can afford to be more adventurous at home and if there was one positive against Sunderland it was how we kept going until the end. In fact, we played better when we had 10 men. If this confidence can be translated into the clinical finishing we saw at the start of the season we will have no problem!

With attendances again dwindling it will be vital for Villa to avoid the ponderous football played in the first half against Sunderland and give the crowd something to get behind.

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

Statistics can be strange – and the Boxing Day curse continued as Villa narrowly lost to Swansea. We do at least, though, have a better record on this particular holiday. We are unbeaten in our last six matches on New Year’s Day in the league (W4, D2)!

Despite the inconsistency of recent performances we have at least been a bit more resolute at home lately – and we’re unbeaten in our last four home games.

While Palace have plenty of talented attacking players Villa have been tricky to score against recently. Plus, Palace’s captain and midfield dynamo Mile Jedinak, will miss the game after joining up with Australia for the Asia Cup. If Villa can add an end product to the new possession football it could be a comfortable afternoon for Lambert’s side as Palace get to grips with a new managerial era.


Happy New Year!

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