Aston Villa vs AZ Alkmaar predictions: Fast start expected in Villa Park clash
Aston Villa's Europa Conference League Group E campaign started with a shock 3-2 defeat away to Legia Warsaw and they needed a late John McGinn goal to nick a 1-0 home win over Zrinjski on matchday two.
However, the pre-season trophy favourites turned on the style in a 4-1 rout of AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands last time out and they should be confident of completing a double over AZ at Villa Park.
Unai Emery's men have a formidable home record in the Premier League, winning their last 12 matches on their own patch, although they will be wary of an AZ side who had won five of their previous six games before their home loss to Villa.
Villa are set to be without the injured Emiliano Buendia, Tyrone Mings and Jacob Ramsey. However, left-back Alex Moreno returned to the squad in Sunday's defeat at Nottingham Forest.
AZ Alkmaar were virtually at full strength for their weekend Eredivisie draw at Excelsior with left-back Mees de Wit the only injury absentee. Forward Mayckel Lahdo was sent off against Legia Warsaw on matchday two but served his suspension in the home fixture against Villa.
Both teams have scored in eight of Villa's last 11 matches.
Villa have won their last 12 home games in the Premier League.
Emery's men have scored 15 goals in five Europa Conference League ties this term.
AZ Alkmaar's last five Europa Conference League matches, including qualifiers, have produced 21 goals.
AZ have scored the first goal in seven of their eight away games in all competitions this season.
Striker Vangelis Pavlidis has scored 11 goals in his last 11 appearances for AZ.
Villa suffered a rare setback in the Premier League on Sunday, losing 2-0 at Nottingham Forest, but they have been in rampant goalscoring form at home this season.
Villa's victory over Luton at the end of October extended their winning streak at Villa Park in the league to 12 matches and this season's wins have been by 4-0, 3-1, 6-1, 4-1 and 3-1 scorelines.
That spells trouble for AZ, who were thumped 4-1 by Emery's men on their own patch on matchday three, and it may not take long for the floodgates to open on Thursday.
Villa have been leading at half-time in four of their five home league victories this term, scoring three goals in the first 26 minutes of the 6-1 rout of Brighton, and their five Europa Conference League ties have featured 12 first-half goals.
AZ also tend to fly out of the traps, opening the scoring in seven of their eight away games in all competitions in 2023-24, so backing two or more goals to be scored before half-time looks the way to go.
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