Aston Villa vs Sunderland – Premier League preview and team news

Separated by only a point and a place in the Premier League table, Aston Villa and Sunderland meet in the West Midlands with the visitors hoping to extend their unbeaten away run to five games.

Only a superb free-kick from Gylfi Sigurdsson saw Villa edged out in their last game at Swansea City, and they will count themselves unlucky to have come away with nothing having piled on the pressure in the second half and come close to scoring on more than one occasion.

As ever, Christian Benteke will provide their biggest threat, particularly with Gabriel Agbonlahor absent as he may have had some joy against a defence lacking in genuine pace, while Fabian Delph is back to add some bite to the midfield.

Sunderland got off to the best possible start against Hull City as they carried on from where they left off in the Tyne-Wear derby, but from then on it got frustrating as penalty appeals were turned down and the Tigers fought their way back into it.

It came as a massive setback for manager Gustavo Poyet, who continues to search for consistency from his side, and the manner in which they fell away in the second half will have worried him the most, but on the other hand it was only a second loss in eight games.

Along with Agbonlahor, Kieran Richardson is suspended for Villa, who are also without Nathan Baker, Joe Cole, Philippe Senderos and Ashley Westwood.

Connor Wickham returns for Sunderland following a one-match ban, and he could be recalled as well as Wes Brown and Jack Rodwell.

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