‘Surprise’ midfield addition as Unai Emery rotates for season finale - Aston Villa predicted XI vs Crystal Palace

Aston Villa conclude their historic 2023/24 season with a trip to Crystal Palace on the Premier League’s final day.

Unai Emery and his men travel to Selhurst Park with a mighty spring in their step after securing a top-four finish earlier this week. It’ll be a celebratory afternoon in the capital as the pressure is off following qualification for next season’s Champions League.

The achievement simply cannot be understated as the Villans will be taking part in Europe’s most prestigious competition for the first time in 41 years. Succeeding in such style just over 18 months after being in a relegation battle under Steven Gerrard’s stewardship is a mighty feat from all involved.

Emery, the master behind it all, certainly didn’t hide his excitement on Tuesday as Villa’s awards evening conveniently coincided with Tottenham Hotspur’s defeat to Manchester City – the result that sealed the deal. But the vastly experienced Spanish head coach remains focused on the job in hand with one game still to play.

Palace will be shown a great deal of respect, especially as Oliver Glasner has recently turned the tide. The Eagles were well off the pace but the Austrian head coach’s arrival has given them the boost they needed. Only title chasers Arsenal and Manchester City can better Palace’s 13 points out of the last 15 available.

Sunday’s hosts also still have it all to play for as a win could be enough for a top-half finish, above bitter rivals Brighton & Hove Albion. Villa, with that in mind and due to Emery’s characteristics, won’t throw the game away with a greatly worsened lineup but slight rotation is likely.

With all of those factors considered, here’s the starting XI we predict Emery will name at Selhurst Park.

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