Manchester City will look to take the scarily impressive performance against Manchester United in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-finals in midweek, into Sunday’s game against fellow semi-finalists and Premier League strugglers, Aston Villa.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of the trip to Villa Park this weekend...
Manchester City’s injury crisis looks to be over with Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte the only two first team players unavailable. Although Laporte has continued to participate in training, Pep Guardiola has stated that he doesn’t know when he’ll be ready to 'play some games'. Guardiola also confirmed that KevinDe Bruyne is 'fine' after being forced off in the second half of Tuesday’s win against city rivals United, following a heavy challenge.
Dean Smith’s Aston Villa will be without Tom Heaton, Jed Steer, Keinan Davis, John McGinn and WesleyMoraes. Matt Targett and Jonathan Kodjia are also doubts for Sunday’s match.
Head To Head
Manchester City are unbeaten against Aston Villa in all competitions since a 3-2 defeat at Villa Park in September of 2013. The Blues have since won six of the last seven matches by an aggregate score of 20-2, with Villa unable to score in any of these fixtures except for a defeat at the Etihad in 2015.
Pep Guardiola’s first ever game against Aston Villa came earlier on in the season, when Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan each scored in a 3-0 victory.
Manchester City and Aston Villa have met 171 times since they first played each other in 1899, with the Blues having won 73, drawn 41 and lost 57 of these games, scoring a total of 277 goals.
After a difficult few months, Manchester City look to be regathering some form with seven wins in their last eight games in all competitions and having won four of their last five games in league matches. In five of those seven matches, City have scored three or more goals, including Tuesday night’s Manchester Derby, where a blitzing first half display put Manchester City in firm control of the cup tie.
All-time club top goal-scorer Sergio Aguero is only one goal away from matching Arsenal legend Thierry Henry’s goalscoring record of 175 Premier League goals. The Argentine is just a brace away from becoming the highest scoring overseas player in Premier League history!
Despite a 1-1 draw in their League Cup semi-final to second place Leicester on Wednesday, Dean Smith’s side are struggling down at the bottom of the league, one point away from the relegation zone, yet just six points away from 10th place Arsenal. Villa have won just two of their last five league matches, having endured defeats to fellow strugglers Watford and Southampton in recent weeks, and have been hit by an unfortunate string of injuries to key players.
Pep Guardiola will likely continue to utilise his new formation of 3-4-3, despite opting to use a striker-less 4-3-3 against Manchester United on Tuesday night. You would however expect Manchester City to play with at least one striker against Villa, even though it was extremely successful in the Manchester Derby.
Aston Villa went with a 3-4-3 against Leicester City in midweek and managed to get a 1-1 draw, but last time they played Manchester City they opted for an unorthodox 4-1-4-1, which at times became six at the back. Given Villa’s desperate need for points, it will be interesting to see whether they take the game to Manchester City or look to sit back and defend.
Jonathan Moss will take of his 215th Premier League match and 27th involving Manchester City on Sunday afternoon in the Midlands. The select group one official, whose top flight debut was back in 2011, will be joined by assistant referees Harry Lennard and Eddie Smart. David Coote will be the fourth official at Villa park, while Graham Scott and Adam Nunn will be watching proceedings from the VAR hub in London.
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