Manchester City travel to Villa Park on Wednesday as they look to bounce back in the Premier League after a disappointing result in the FA Cup semi-final.
After some very intense and worrisome days in world football, owing to the ludicrous European Super League announcement, its time to get back on to the pitch. Pep Guardiola will be hoping that his team bounces back from an unfortunate weekend and gives their fans some much needed respite.
An extensively rotated starting eleven with numerous out of form players led to a sub-standard performance at Wembley. The Blues were unrecognisable in what was the worst first half performance of the season.
With the quadruple narrative now over, Pep and his men will be eager to make the best out of the other three competitions, but first they will have to overcome this minor slump in form. How the players react on field to City’s reported withdrawal from the European Super League, after being silenced off it following the announcement, remains to be seen.
Kevin De Bruyne’s unavailability for this fixture, due to a blow to his ankle in the FA Cup Semi final, was confirmed through an official club statement on Monday. The extent of the injury is not yet known, but the damage is believed to be far less than initially thought and the player is getting better by the day.
Sergio Agüero is also still unavailable due to a muscle injury picked up in the game against Leicester City.
As for Aston Villa, Jack Grealish remains unavailable for this fixture due to an ongoing shin problem that has kept him out of action since February. Trezeguet has had successful surgery on his knee and will be out for the rest of the season. Morgan Sanson’s participation is a doubt after suffering a knock to his knee against Liverpool.
Manchester City are on an impressive run of form away from home in the Premier League, with their last away defeat back in November at Tottenham. This game will be the perfect opportunity for the Blues to bounce back from their start-stop form in recent games, and they will look to build another winning run in the coming weeks filled with crucial title-deciding fixtures. They have been impeccable in the last few months winning 27 of their previous 30 games.
Dean Smith’s side has been in a rough patch in recent weeks having won only one game of their last five games. They were narrowly defeated by Liverpool in stoppage time last time around and injuries to key players like Jack Grealish and Trezeguet have hampered them lately. Villa currently lie 11th in the Premier League, having won 13, drawn five and lost 12 games this season.
Back in January, Manchester City nervously got past Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium. A highly controversial opening goal scored by Bernardo Silva after Rodri dispossessed Tyrone Mings from an offside position. The second goal came from the spot, perfectly put in by Ilkay Gundogan. Guardiola’s men left it late, but secured all three points in the reverse fixture.
Overall, Manchester City have won nine of their previous 10 meetings with the Villans before Wednesday’s fixture, with this being the 175th occasion on which these two sides meet.
Pep’s Pre-Match Thoughts
The Manager was flooded with questions related to the European Super League in his pre-match press conference, and in defiance the football aficionado said; "Sport is not a sport when the relation between the effort and reward don’t exist. It’s not a sport when it doesn’t matter if you lose.”
"I've said many times I want the best competition as possible. It's not fair if teams fight at the top and cannot qualify."
Pep Guardiola went on to express his thoughts about UEFA being far from blameless in the current situation, a result of their selfish interests and corrupt administration, the Catalan said:
"Every club defends its position. Don't be cynical. Everyone makes their own interests. When you talk about the Premier League and UEFA, they look after their interests. UEFA have also failed. They have to communicate, be in touch. They have to clarify."
Referee Peter Bankes, who was the referee in Manchester City’s 1-1 draw against West Brom back in December, will be joined by Assistant Referees Neil Davies and Harry Lennard, along with Anthony Taylor as the Fourth Official.
Jarred Gillet (VAR) and Stephen Child (AVAR) have been handed the VAR duties at Villa Park.
Where to Watch
In the UK, fans will be able to watch the game live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League at 20:15.
For viewers living abroad, you can find the TV listings here.
Matchday with City Xtra
City Xtra will be providing live content on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook during the match. Lewis and Jordan on the City Xtra Youtube Channel will also provide their usual live watch-along as well as the post-match phone-in show.
You can follow Sangam on Twitter here: @sangamdesaii
Follow us on Twitter for live match coverage: @City_Xtra