A Villa 0 - 0 SunderlandKO: Sat Apr 21 15:00:00 BST 2012 Ground: Villa Park
Att: 32557 Referee: A Taylor
Sunderland Manager Martin O'Neill Returns To Aston Villa For The First Time
Villa will be desperate to get one over on a man who enjoyed a productive four-year stint in the Midlands between 2006 and 2010.
Their inability to string positive results together means they sit just six points clear of the drop zone and could yet be dragged into relegation trouble.
Alex McLeish's side have won just one of their last 11 Premier League fixtures, picking up only five points in the process.
They have won just one of their last 10 on home soil, netting just eight times during that run of games.
The omens look good for O'Neill as he prepares to return to Villa Park for the first time since stepping down from his post in August 2010.
He has never lost to Villa as a manager, winning four games and drawing four during his time at Leicester, and has helped to steer Sunderland into the top half of the division this term.
O'Neill will, however, be concerned that the Black Cats have failed to win any of their last four league games - with that run representing their worst sequence of results since Steve Bruce was sacked.
The North East outfit have also failed to find the target in their last three outings and last went four on the spin without scoring in April 2011.
Aston Villa have seen their pre-match preparations boosted by positive news regarding the fitness of a number of key men.
Marc Albrighton, Chris Herd and Ciaran Clark, who suffered a head injury at Manchester United last time out, are all ready for action.
Stephen Warnock is also back in contention after being forced to sit out the trip to Old Trafford with an ankle problem, while Carlos Cuellar and Charles N'Zogbia are hoping to start.
Richard Dunne has stepped up his recovery from a broken collarbone, but remains sidelined, while Darren Bent is running again as he continues his rehabilitation from ankle surgery.
Sunderland are hoping to be able to call on John O'Shea this weekend, as he has shaken off a calf complaint.
Phil Bardsley, Nicklas Bendtner and Kieran Richardson will be handed late fitness checks, as will club captain Lee Cattermole - who missed last weekend's stalemate with Wolves with a knee injury.
Ahmed Elmohamady is pushing for a rare start as he weighs up his options ahead of the summer transfer window.
Craig Gardner will be looking to line-up against younger brother Gary in the middle of midfield.
Possible starting XIs
Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Collins, Cuellar, Warnock, Bannan, Ireland, Clark, N'Zogbia, Weimann, Agbonlahor.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, O'Shea, Turner, Richardson, Larsson, Gardner, Cattermole, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner.
Stalemate For Sunderland On Martin O'Neill's Return To Aston Villa
Martin O'Neill's Sunderland could not find a way past his old side Aston Villa and have now not scored in three consecutive Premier League games.
Nicklas Bendtner came closest to winning the game after seeing a goal ruled out for offside.
Former Villa midfielder Craig Gardner was sent off in injury time as neither side managed to find a breakthrough.
The point leaves Sunderland tenth in the table with three games remaining.
Why do you think Sunderland are struggling to score goals?
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