Villa v Sunderland stat pack: Delph the key player
Villa host Sunderland in their second successive Monday night fixture.
Paul Lambert will be confident that his side can come through another tough test having picked up victories against Reading, QPR and Stoke over the past few weeks as he looks to halt the impressive start made by Paolo Di Canio.
The home side can look back to the reverse fixture between the teams earlier in the season and draw strength from an excellent defensive performance that day, running out 1-0 winners courtesy of a second half Gabby Agbonlahor strike.
The game back in November saw the Black Cats fail to force Brad Guzan into a single save, with ten of their twelve efforts on the day off-target and the other two blocked.
Villa, on the other hand, hit the target on three occasions, while Christian Benteke shone in WhoScored.com's ratings [8.1 out of 10] having created three chances, including the only goal of the game.
He also won an impressive eleven aerial duels.
Lambert will also be confident that his side will be able to dictate the play tonight, with the lions boasting higher team averages in a number of areas in comparison with their opponents.
Villa have had more shots as well as averaging more possession and a higher pass accuracy than Sunderland this season, while also coming out on top for aerial duels and interceptions per game.
One man that Villa will be wary of, however, is Stephane Sessegnon, who has returned to form since the arrival of Di Canio.
The Benin international has scored crucial goals in his last two games, starting as he does in behind a lone front man for the Wearside club.
In turn, Lambert will need his chief midfield tackler to cull his threat and the form of Fabian Delph is something the manager has been quick to recognise.
Only ever-present Matt Lowton has made more tackles and interceptions per game than the 23-year-old this season [both 2.4].
Given that the former Leeds man has made five substitute appearances this season his figures with regards to defensive contribution become even more impressive.
Delph has won a tackle every 28 minutes of playing time on average.
Meanwhile, having made an interception every 28.5 minutes, he ranks sixth in the entire league of players to have made as many appearances and it's clear that he may be key not only in dispossessing the likes of Sessegnon, but also cutting off the supply to Sunderland's attacking players.
He's also extremely assured in possession for Villa, completing a higher percentage of passes than any other teammate [87.3%], as well as ranking top for the team in terms of minutes per touch [1.3] and pass [1.7].
With a win tonight enough to see the side pull back level on points with Sunderland, the incentive couldn't be greater for three points to help settle the nerves.
Villa are unbeaten in their last five matches against bottom-half opposition and the home support will be fully behind their team under the lights at Villa Park.
Find yet more statistics on Aston Villa and the rest of the Premier League, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings at WhoScored.com. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @martinlaurence7 on Twitter.