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Other SportsAston Villa v Manchester City: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and...

Aston Villa v Manchester City: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and prediction

The State of Play

By Manchester City’s ludicrously high standards, a three-game Premier League winless streak constitutes a minor crisis. Granted, the quality of opponent has been strong – Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham – but City’s sloppiness at both ends of the field has been a surprise. That was typified in the 3-3 draw with Spurs on Sunday with City missing a host of first-half chances before being picked off by the visitors late on. That hasn’t diminished Guardiola’s confidence in his team, though, with the Catalan declaring in today’s press conference that they “will win the league”.

If Guardiola had to choose a venue at which to get back on track, however, it’s likely Villa Park would be pretty low on his list. Villa have won their last 13 Premier League home games – a record that has provided a platform for their improvement under Unai Emery.
Villa sit just a place and a point behind City and with the incentive to move into the top three with a win.

Read our other football news stories here:
United ban journalists from press conference over Ten Hag reports
‘We are together’ – Erik ten Hag slams reports of Manchester United unrest
Bernardo Silva demands more from Manchester City amid recent blip

Team News

Villa came through Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Bournemouth unscathed, although Emery admitted a hectic schedule that also includes the Europa League means several players in his squad are feeling fatigued.
England striker Ollie Watkins shrugged off a small injury to feature, and score, at the Vitality Stadium and he is fit to lead the line.

City will definitely be without two players for the trip down the M6. Key midfielder Rodri is the most significant having picked up a booking against Spurs that triggered a one-game suspension.
Jack Grealish was also booked at the weekend, meaning he misses out on a trip to his former club.
City also face a nervous wait to see if Jeremy Doku is fit after sustaining an injury against Spurs.
The good news is John Stones is fit and likely to come back into the team with Manuel Akanji perhaps moving from central defence into midfield to cover for Rodri.

Expected line-ups

Aston Villa: Martinez; Konsa, Diego Carlos, Torres, Digne; Tielemans, Douglas Luiz, Bailey, Ramsey, McGinn; Watkins

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Gvardiol; Akanji, Silva; Foden, Alvarez, Doku, Haaland

What they said

Unai Emery on the possibility of making changes for City’s visit
“Every day is very important [to see] how the players are recovering after the last match. I can’t know today how the players will be tomorrow.
“We will meet tomorrow morning and we are going to decide. Some players are tired and have small pain, but I think the players will be available and are ready. I am going to decide as well trying to be responsible with my choice.”

Guardiola on a City defence that has conceded 10 goals in the last four games in all competitions
“Except the Chelsea game [a 4-4 draw], when we conceded more chances, the rest of the games have been quite similar to when we won the treble.
“[But] We have to get better. If you concede three, four goals a game it’s tough to sustain it for a long time. We have to improve but at the same time we haven’t been conceding lots more chances and hopefully we can continue with that.
“Of course, I’m concerned but I am saying the average is lower in chances conceded.”

When and how to watch

The game kicks off at 2015 UK time. It will be shown live on Amazon Prime in the UK.

Prediction

The odds have Manchester City as overwhelming favourites – bet365 have them at 7/10 – which is a surprise given their recent form, the absence of Rodri, and Villa’s incredible winning run at home.
At 15/4, Emery’s men look great value, however a draw could be a good bet.
Expect a few goals but ultimately stalemate.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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