Manchester City won 5-0 in the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the season and Roberto Mancini will be hoping that his side are willing to show similar ruthless qualities in front of goal when they face Aston Villa away from home tonight.
Having seen results go against them over the course of the weekend, the stakes could not be higher for City. United are now 15 points clear at the top of the table whilst Tottenham are biting at the heels of Mancini’s side. The men from the blue half of Manchester simply have to win against Aston Villa and keep the pressure up on their fiercest rivals.
Aston Villa put in a valiant effort against Arsenal last weekend but their supporters must feel it does not get any easier with the visit of City. Villa have improved over the last month or so, picking up a draw away at Everton and 3 points at home to West Ham but they will probably accept that they will have long spells without the ball tonight. Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann will be key for the home side as they will look to hit the Premier League Champions on the break. The defence and how they deal with the threat posed by City’s attacking threat will also be key for Villa. Unlike City, Villa supporters will no doubt be pleased with how the weekend went for their side having seen teams around dropping points.
Aston Villa will be hoping their captain Ron Vlaar will return to the starting XI having missed the trip to Arsenal last weekend. He has been struggling with a calf injury but is expected to be ready for the test against the Manchester club. Aside from the possible inclusion of Vlaar, the home side are likely to field the same team as last weekend.
Manchester City are expected to be without Vincent Kompany and so Kolo Toure should start alongside youngster Matija Nastasic. Gareth Barry is also a doubt heading into the match at Villa Park.
- Manchester City have beaten Aston Villa more times than any club they have faced in the Premier League, having beaten them 17 times prior to Monday’s game.
- City have only beaten Villa once in their last 5 visits to Villa Park.
- Aston Villa have failed to win in 9 of their last 10 Premier League matches.
Ciaran Clark will be expecting a tough night ahead but Villa fans will take comfort from the fact that Clark wins a high percentage of aerial duels. If Villa manage to get ahead or are level heading into the closing stages, City may attempt to float a few more hopeful balls into the box but Clark has demonstrated over the course of the season that he is a presence in the air and should be able to deal with such a threat. However the statistics shown below will be of concern for fans of the home side. Villa have conceded 2 goals a game this season when Clark has featured. Against an attack that is stronger than most Premier League outfits, it is unlikely that City will reach the stage where they have to pump balls into the box in search of a late goal. It is also hard to see the relegation threatened club scoring more than 2 goals against the Premier League champions.
Sergio Aguero is expected to lead the line for Manchester City this evening and he is up against a defence that has been shipping goals over the course of this season. Encouragement for Villa fans will be taken when looking at Aguero’s chance and clear-cut chance conversion rates but the Argentine’s class is shown in the fact that his shooting accuracy percentage is high, 53%. He will find opportunities to get shots away tonight and so Villa have to be at their best to make sure these opportunities are limited in quantity.
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