Aston Villa vs Manchester City – Pre-game Assessment

Wednesday, Dec 6th, 20:15 – Villa Park

Referee: John Brooks

Last week I confessed to being apprehensive about facing a rejuvenated Bournemouth under their new manager, Andoni Iraola, at Vitality Stadium.

What I did not expect was our Villans to give up an unnecessary goal in the 10th minute.  Sure enough we managed to get back on level terms when Leon Bailey executed an excellent solo effort with his vaunted left foot ten minutes later.  Then an extended wait for a VAR decision took away a goal that would have seen us in the lead, and comfortable, a couple of minutes later.  We never did get control of the match and were fortunate to come away with a point thanks to a brilliant header by Ollie Watkins.

With Manchester City coming to Villa Park on Wednesday evening, we have to get back into fortress mentality.  Indeed, we are capable of doing that and extending our winning streak to 14 games.

Our Villans have just about everything going in their favor except for City having some of the best players on the planet.  Still, it is hard to reconcile the City team that won the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League last season to the team that is currently third.

From the Man City we hosted September ‘22, İlkay Gündoğan and João Cancelo have moved on to Barcelona, while Riyad Mahrez has joined Al-Ahli in the Saudi Pro League.  Their replacements Mateo Kovacic and Matheus Nunes, are both nursing injuries. 

Worse still for manager Pep Guardiola, the injuries to Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones have taken away two of their leaders who set the tempo.  Then, Sunday they faced Tottenham Hotspur at home expecting to take advantage of a team ravaged by injuries and suspensions, and on a three-game losing streak.

Instead, they lost the lead twice, the second time in the 90th minute, repeating a pattern set when they led against Chelsea and, also, against Liverpool in their previous two Premier League games only to lose valuable points, each time conceding late goals.

To compound Guardiola’s foul mood has to be that two players, Rodri and Jack Grealish, earned their fifth yellow cards of the season against Spurs, meaning they will serve one-match suspensions and will not be available against us.

This is a great boost for our Villans.  Rodri has frequently been a game changer when we face City, and it was Rodri who opened the scoring in the 4th minute when the two teams last met in February at the Etihad Stadium.  As for Jack, our former captain and talisman, he has gone on to win all the accolades he deserved over the last couple of years.  While this season he appears to lack the hunger he once had, he is still a major weapon that we won’t have to worry about.

There are more reasons for us to feel positive about our chances.  We are in 4th place, just one point behind City.  Our six home games this season have netted us the maximum possible, 18 points.  In doing so, we have scored 23 times and allowed 6 goals (one each game).

Not surprisingly, Manchester City has a decent away record with four wins and a tie in seven games.  Their only losses are to Wolves and Arsenal.  However, their highest ranked scalp was Manchester United and, in that game, Rodri and Grealish were significant factors.

Like most Villa fans, I find the idea of predicting a Villa win over Manchester City to be a bridge too far.  But why?  This is City team that has lost leaders, hunger, and continuity.  Meanwhile, we have three of the most potent forwards currently playing in the Premier League in Ollie Watson, Moussa Diaby, and Leon Bailey.  We have the world’s best keeper in Emi Martinez, the best center back pair in Konsa and Torres, and, with Kamara back, one of most creative midfield trios with both John McGinn and Douglas Luiz posing scoring threats.

We also have great coverage on the bench with Jacob Ramsey, Alex Moreno, getting close to full match fitness and solid backline experience in Carlos and Lenglet.  As long as we maintain our composure, I believe we can win and we will win.

Result Prediction:

I believe we will extend our winning streak to 14 in a row.  Prediction:  Aston Villa 2, Manchester City 1.

Predicted Villa Line-Up:

Aston Villa: Martínez, Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne, Luiz, McGinn, Kamara, Diaby, Watkins, Bailey

Subs: Olsen, Jacobs, Moreno, Carlos, Lenglet, Chambers, Zaniolo, Dendoncker, Tielemans

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