Aston Villa v Wigan Athletic – Match Preview

Aston Villa welcome Wigan to Villa Park on Saturday looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the season but also end a run of four consecutive draw.

Alex McLeish saw his side pegged back at the death against QPR last week with Richard Dunne’s cancelling out a second half penalty converted by the impressive Barry Bannan. Despite avoiding defeat in their opening six games they have won only one and performances have hardly been inspiring with new boss McLeish opting to tighten the Villans defence before getting to work on the attacking side of their game. He has, however, invigorated Gabriel Agbonlahor who looks a different proposition under the former Birmingham and Rangers boss. A lack of firepower was evident at Loftus Road last Sunday in a laboured display and McLeish will be looking at summer signing Charles N’Zogbia to provide more out wide after a mediocre start to his career in the Midlands. The former Wigan man scored the equaliser in last seasons corresponding fixture but will be out to haunt his former club on Saturday.He could be joined in the starting eleven with Darren Bent and Emile Heskey back from injury. Jermaine Jenas could also make his first appearance in a Villa shirt since joining on loan from Tottenham.

Villa Park is a happy hunting ground for The Latics who have yet to taste defeat during their six Premier League visits conceding just two goals in the process. Manager Roberto Martinez was a target for Villa in the summer as they sought to replace Gerard Houllier but opted to remain at the DW Stadium and has presided over decent start to the campaign. The Spaniard was unhappy with his sides showing in last week’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham. They’ve taken only one point from three games on the road so far and will be confident of picking up their first win away from the DW at Villa. They’ll travel to the Midlands without key players Hugo Rodallega and Antonio Alcaraz who are both injured whilst Emmerson Boyce is unlikely to be rushed back into action from a hamstring problem. Steven Gohouri will also miss out after his sending off against Spurs.

Key Players 

Gabriel Agbonlahor – Three goals so far this season only scratches the surface with the striker playing with more freedom and confidence under McLeish. His lighting pace and willingness to chase down and hassle defenders will unnerve the Wigan back line and give Villa an option over the top.

Franco Di Santo – With Rodallega missing the Argentine has stepped up his game to compensate for the Colombians loss. With three goals to his name already this campaign he’ll be looking increase that tally against Villa alongside Victor Moses up front.

Verdict: 2-1

  • Gabriel Agbonlahor is the player from either side who is currently ranked highest on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Agbonlahor is currently in 11th place overall
  • Agbonlahor has three Barclays Premier League goals this season, scoring a goal on average every 176minutes 20second of action
  • Although he dropped eight places to 22nd overall, Franco Di Santo is the Wigan Athletic player who is currently ranked highest on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index
  • Di Santo’s three Barclays Premier League goals have come on average a little quicker than Agbonlahor’s, every 148minutes 40seconds

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