Aston Villa team for Leicester – Barkley starts behind Watkins

Dean Smith has kept faith with the same XI that brutally dismantled champions Liverpool a fortnight ago for tonight’s match-up against Leicester.

Villa raced to a 4-1 lead over Liverpool before half-time two weeks back with Smith throwing Ross Barkley in from the get-go in a more advanced No.10 position.

The 26-year-old starts once again and is likely to play just behind Villa’s five-goal ace Ollie Watkins in a fluid 4-4-1-1 system. Staying in attack, captain Jack Grealish will play from the left again while, over on the right, Egyptian workhorse Trezeguet starts for the 10th league game on the bounce.

In midfield, Douglas Luiz starts once more despite clocking up the air miles while on international duty with Neymar & Co out in Brazil. The 22-year-old will have birthday boy John McGinn next to him in the engine room with the Scot also enjoying a successful 10 days with his national team.

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At the back it’ll be the same back five with Emi Martinez in goal with Matty Cash and Matt Targett the two full-backs. Resolute defensive duo Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings will be at the heart of Villa’s back line.

As far as the bench is concerned, Bjorn Engels makes the match-day squad for the first time since playing at the KP seven months ago. The Belgian replaced Keinan Davis who hasn’t recovered from a calf injury in time.

As for Leicester, Brendan Rodgers has been forced to make three changes to his starting XI. Jamie Vardy, scorer of five goals in his last four games against Villa, has been ruled out with a calf problem. Kelechi Iheanacho starts in place of him.

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Here are the two teams in full, below:

ASTON VILLA, 4-4-1-1: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Trezeguet, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Grealish; Barkley; Watkins. Subs: Steer, Engels, Elmohamady, Nakamba, Hourihane, Traore, El Ghazi.

LEICESTER CITY, 4-1-4-1: Schmeichel; Castagne, Evans, Fofana, Justin; Mendy; Perez, Tielemans, Praet, Barnes; Iheanacho. Subs: Morgan, Maddison, Albrighton, Ward, Slimani, Under, Choudhury.

Follow our kick-by-kick match coverage of tonight’s game HERE.

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