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Premier League Preview: Aston Villa - Crystal Palace

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Paul Lambert: Most Premier League managers could do without the FA Cup
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Paul Lambert: Most Premier League managers could do without the FA Cup
Aston Villa and Crystal Palace will both look to halt losing runs when they meet at Villa Park on Thursday.

The hosts have lost their last three Premier League matches, scoring just one goal in the process, and have slipped to 13th in the table.

Five places below them is Palace, which has been beaten in its last two outings after showing signs of revival following two consecutive victories under the guidance of new manager Tony Pulis.

After back-to-back wins against West Ham and Cardiff City, it suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat at Chelsea before slumping to a 3-0 reverse at home to Newcastle on Saturday.

Victory on Thursday could see the Eagles men climb out of the relegation zone, depending on results around them and changes in goal difference, but a defeat may mean them returning to the bottom of the table.

These teams have not met in the league since May 2005, when an Andy Johnson double handed Palace a 2-0 home win, and they can be quietly confident of securing another three points, given Villa's poor form, even though it has lost seven of its eight away top-flight games this term.

As well as winning just once in their last six Premier League matches, Paul Lambert's side has picked up only seven points from a possible 24 at home this season.

Palace's hopes of taking something from the game have been hit by the absence of suspended striker Marouane Chamakh, though. Pulis' side is the lowest scoring in the division with just 11 goals, but the Moroccan, having earned a recall following the departure of former boss Ian Holloway, has found the net in three of Palace's last four games.

Villa is hardly prolific up front either, averaging a goal a game and scoring just twice in its last five home matches. Christian Benteke, the club's leading goalscorer last season, has been out of sorts this campaign and is set to miss out on Thursday with a knee problem, while Lambert could also be without captain Ron Vlaar (calf).

Ashley Westwood is definitely unavailable after picking up five yellow cards.

Pulis is likely to welcome back Stuart O'Keefe (knock) and Kagisho Dikgacoi (hamstring) after they missed the defeat to Newcastle, but Adlene Guedioura is some way off due to his broken ribs. Meanwhile, Jerome Thomas, Jack Hunt, Paddy McCarthy and Glenn Murray are all long-term absentees for Palace.

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