Aston Villa manager Remi Garde insists he is not feeling any extra pressure ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Crystal Palace despite his team’s desperate situation at the bottom of the Premier League.
Garde is still waiting for his first win in charge of Villa, whose dismal season continues to go from bad to worse.
The West Midlands club were held to a 1-1 draw by League Two side Wycombe Wanderers in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday, a game that saw captain Micah Richards approach angry fans sat behind the dugout at Adams Park after the final whistle.
Richards and his struggling team-mates turn their attention back to league matters at Villa Park and are in dire need of a victory to try to bridge the considerable gap between themselves and safety.
The bottom club have just eight points to their name and are 11 points adrift of safety but Garde is adamant he is not feeling the heat.
“Every week we have games to play and I know how it is in football,” Garde said. “I’m not especially under pressure, but if I’m not winning games then I’m not silly as well.
“The day I feel that I’m not able to do any positive things for this big football club you will know it.”
Villa have a number of injury concerns going into the encounter. Jack Grealish missed the Wycombe stalemate through illness while Richards picked up a knock in that fixture.
Alan Hutton and Carlos Sanchez (hamstring) are both doubts along with Gabriel Agbonlahor (back).
Meanwhile, Palace are without Yannick Bolasie (calf) and Kwesi Appiah (knee) but Connor Wickham and Dwight Gayle could both return from hamstring injuries.
Palace’s performances this season have been in stark contrast to those of Villa and, despite going three league games without a win, they are still just five points adrift of the top four.
And the London club can afford to head into the game with confidence, having beaten Southampton 2-1 in the FA Cup.
With players working their way back to fitness and Palace well positioned in the table, defender Joel Ward sees plenty of reasons to be upbeat.
“I’m feeling good and I think we’re a good group and the staff are looking after us,” Ward said.
“Training is good and the morale and fitness is going well and we’ve had a boost with people coming back from injury and people working their way up to match fitness.”
Key Opta Stats:
– The last seven league meetings between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace have produced just 10 goals.
– Crystal Palace have lost just one of their last seven Premier League meetings with Aston Villa (W4 D2 L1).
– Aston Villa are currently on a 19-game winless run in the Premier League (D5 L14); the joint-fourth longest run in Premier League history (alongside Nottingham Forest in 1998-99).
– Crystal Palace have failed to score a goal in their last three Premier League games – they have not gone without a goal in four successive top-flight matches since Feb 1998 (five games).
– A Premier League-high 47.8 per cent of Crystal Palace’s goals this season have been scored from set-piece situations.
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