Aston Villa vs Manchester City: Premier League Match Preview and Prediction
Manchester City will be high on confidence after humiliating their city rivals Manchester United in the Carabao Cup semi-finals' first leg. The defending champions have been inconsistent this season, which has put them on the third spot in the Premier League standings.
Pep Guardiola's men have already dropped more points this season than they did in the whole of either of the last two seasons. City who earned 198 points in last two seasons has earned just 44 points in 21 matches this season. They are 17 points short of Liverpool, having played an extra game, which makes this match a must-win for them.
Aston Villa, on the other hand, are on the 17th position in the table and looking over their shoulders. Like City, Villa also had a positive result in the Carabao Cup semi-finals' first leg. Dean Smith's men earned 1-1 draw away from home against Leicester, which has put them in a great position in the tie.
While they can take confidence from their cup run, survival in the Premier League is the biggest objective for Villa. Very few would give Villa a chance in the match against City, but any positive result here would serve as a huge boost in the relegation battle.
These two teams last met each other in October at Etihad. On that occasion, City displayed their superiority by registering a 3-0 win. Raheem Sterling, David Silva, and Ilkay Gundogan got on the scoresheet as Villa had no reply for City.
Keinan Davis will not be fit in time to face City, hence Anwar El Ghazi will lead the line for Aston Villa. Tom Heaton, Wesley, and John McGinn will be a huge miss for Villa.
Matt Targett returned to training and might be fit in time to start the game. Danny Drinkwater, who was signed in this window will be eager to prove himself after a horrible loan spell at Burnley.
On the other hand, Manchester City's injury list is getting shorter. Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, are getting close to fitness, but they remain sidelined for the time being.
Apart from these two, Pep Guardiola has a full squad to choose from. The City manager experimented with a strikerless formation against United, it would be interesting to see the set up against Aston Villa.
Tyrone Mings vs Sergio Aguero
Tyrone Mings is a pivotal part of Aston Villa's defence, and he would need to be on top of his game against City. The 26-year-old would need to use all of his experience if he wants to keep the City forwards quiet on Sunday.
Sergio Aguero is one of the greatest strikers in the history of the Premier League. The Argentine didn't get an opportunity to feature against United in the Carabao Cup as Guardiola opted for strikerless formation. The Manchester City striker would want to prove himself against Villa.
Jack Grealish vs Fernandinho
Jack Grealish has emerged as the surprise package of the Premier League this season. The Aston Villa captain has impressed everyone with his performances. The 24-year-old has caught the attention of clubs in the top six with his performances. A good display against City will further enhance his reputation.
Until last season, Fernaninho was regarded as one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the world. The Brazilian had to take a deeper position this season due to injuries in defence. The 34-year-old would need to be on his toes against Grealish and company.
There is a huge gulf in quality between Aston Villa and Manchester City, hence the Guardiola's men are heavy favourites in this match. Injuries to the key players have made matters worse for Dean Smith's men.
Having said that, City has seemed vulnerable at times this season. If Villa can make use of the vulnerability, they can pose a threat to City.
Manchester City is on a good run, having won four of their last five matches. On the other hand, Aston Villa has won just two of the last five.
Score Prediction: Aston Villa 0-4 Manchester City
Cover image credits: Skysports