Aston Villa v Bournemouth: Championship leaders in search of upset

An FA Cup upset could be in the offing on Sunday as Aston Villa play host to Bournemouth, who are top of the Championship and flying.

Championship leaders Bournemouth travel to Villa Park in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday looking to apply further pressure on Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert.

The Premier League side may have home advantage, but Villa's dismal run of form means Bournemouth will be confident of causing an upset.

Villa – who have won the competition seven times in their history – are the lowest scorers in the top four divisions in England with just 11 league goals in 22 matches, and have not won in the Premier League since early December.

Eddie Howe's visitors are at the other end of the spectrum with more league goals than any other Football League or Premier League club in the country – 57 – on their way to the top of the table.

The FA Cup has provided Villa with brief respite and eased some of the pressure beginning to build on Lambert – although a 1-0 win over beleaguered Blackpool did not provide the morale boost many would have hoped for. 

However, Shay Given believes victory on Sunday would give Villa the injection of confidence they need turn their season around.

"Football is all about confidence - and breeding confidence," he told the club's official website.

"If you can pick up victories in the cup competitions you're looking for that to filter into the Premier League.

"Hopefully we can get the right result on Sunday and then take it into our Premier League campaign.

"I have some good memories of the FA Cup, it's a historic cup competition, and people talk about it all over the world.

"I've played in it many times. It's got a great history and a great feel about it. You love playing in the FA Cup."

Veteran goalkeeper Given is expected to start in the clash having made a rare appearance in the third round. Youngster Jack Grealish could also feature with Ciaran Clark back after suspension.

A hamstring injury looks set to rule Joe Cole out, but Carles Gil could be handed a first start after signing from Valencia.

The two sides have only met four times in their histories, with Bournemouth only tasting success once and Villa winning their last encounter 2-1 in 1988.

Bournemouth's rise under Howe has been dramatic. Since taking charge at the club, the 37-year-old has guided them from the bottom of League Two to the top of the Championship – albeit with an unsuccessful brief spell at Burnley in the middle.

Howe refuses to let the praise go to his head, though, and is fully focused on continuing to improve himself, starting with the trip to Villa.

"I don't bracket myself a good manager, that is for other people to decide," he told BBC Sport.

"In management you have to keep re-proving yourself, I share that thought process, because the minute you start thinking you're ok it can unravel very quickly."

Bournemouth sit one point clear of Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town in the Championship after 27 matches, but have lost two of their last three games.

That included a 1-0 defeat to Leeds United at Elland Road on Tuesday, hardly ideal preparation for a trip to Villa this weekend.