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Premier League preview: Reading v Aston Villa
Mar 08, 2013 8:00 AM GMT
Reading and Aston Villa clash in a classic six-pointer in the Premier League on Saturday as the relegation battle heats up.
With Aston Villa in 18th place, one point ahead of Reading in 19th, this match at the Madejski Stadium is crucial for both sides' survival hopes.
After Reading produced a string of impressive results on the back of some late goals, their revival has gone flat with three consecutive losses in the league as well as bowing out of the FA Cup at Manchester United.
Aston Villa have also been on the losing end in their past two outings, although they were far from disgraced in a 1-0 loss to defending champions Manchester City and a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.
The hosts will be sweating on the fitness of in-form goalkeeper Adam Federici, who continues to battle an ankle injury.
The Australian injured his ankle during training last Friday and missed the 3-1 loss at Everton, but manager Brian McDermott is hopeful he will recover in time.
In a further blow, winger Jimmy Kebe is unlikely to play after hurting his groin against the Toffees. The Malian has been in superb form this year and his energy will be sorely missed if he fails to prove his fitness.
Aston Villa have a relatively clean bill of health, but need to find more goal-scorers as they have struggled to find the back of the net this campaign.
Their goal tally of 26 is the second-worst in the league and they have a heavy reliance on Belgian striker Christian Benteke, who has been impressive with 11 goals this season.
But with just 10 games remaining in the season, the situation is becoming desperate for Aston Villa as they try to avoid being relegated from England's top flight for the first time in 26 years.
Only Wigan have conceded more goals than Aston Villa and Reading this season, so this clash is sure to entertain with both sides hell-bent on winning and edging closer to their survival.