One of the few all Premier League cup clashes this weekend sees rock bottom Aston Villa welcome Manchester City to the Etihad. This fixture is unlikely to be a top flight fixture next season and this competition could be Villa’s only chance of saving their season. Although they will be disappointed with the draw, it might not have been the worst thing as Manchester City are still competing on four fronts, and may want to drop out of one, to avoid more injuries like the one suffered by Kevin de Bruyne on Wednesday. Villa were poor in the Third Round and only just managed to overcome League Two Wycombe, but there will be no pressure on them this weekend and that could play into their hands.
Aston Villa have been spectacularly bad this season, which is strange to see as they have been mainstays of the Premier League since it was formed. It will be odd to see them get relegated as looks likely, but there have been bright signs in recent weeks, as they are unbeaten in their last three league matches. Remi Garde was always facing a difficult task to keep them up after an appalling start. However, stranger things have happened and it’s possible that their fortunes can change, but it would take a huge effort from all involved and the quality doesn’t appear to be in the squad unfortunately.
City are coming into this weekend on the back of a win in the Capital One Cup Semi-Final against Everton, which will give them a huge boost going into this weekend. Manuel Pellegrini will know that he is unlikely to be at the club next year with Pep Guardiola being heavily linked to the Etihad. The Chilean will be eager to complete his final season at the club with as many trophies as possible and they have the quality to win each of the competitions that they are in, which would be the greatest achievement in English football if they manage it.
In their previous meeting this season, the sides drew 0-0 at Villa Park in Garde’s first match in charge, but Manchester City were missing Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero on that occasion. The last time they met in the FA Cup was in 2011 at the Etihad, which the home side won 3-0. The goals were scored by Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli and David Silva on the day.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Adama Traore and Jordan Amavi are all going to be missing for Aston Villa this weekend. Jordan Ayew and Libor Kozak are expected to lead the line, with their partnership showing signs of promise in recent weeks.
Kevin de Bruyne is going to be missing for at least six weeks after he went off injured in midweek. Vincent Kompany is still missing for City, which will boost Aston Villa. Samir Nasri will be missing for a couple of months yet, after suffering a serious hamstring injury earlier this season.
- Aston Villa have kept two clean sheets in their last three league matches, which suggests their defence has turned a corner.
- This will be Manchester City’s 15th match in the last two months and fatigue could be a concern if the club continues in all four competitions.
Joleon Lescott was a big signing for Villa in the summer, and he was expected to bring experience to the back four and strengthen it as a result. However, he hasn’t had the best season at the club, but it would be unfair to criticise him too much as the majority of the squad have been poor. He is beginning to find his feet and his partnership with Jores Okore has looked strong in recent weeks, which gives the side a strong foundation, which is needed, especially for a side struggling to score goals. He also offers a threat from set pieces as he has shown with one league goal this season. The former England defender put in a man of the match performance in their recent win over Crystal Palace and he will be keen to put in a similar display against his former club in the FA Cup.
The Argentine is the most talented player in the league when he is fit and firing, which is beginning to happen. He has scored five goals in his last three matches in all competitions and played a vital role in their win against Everton in the Capital One Cup. Aguero has already scored 16 goals in all competitions this season for the club, despite missing large portions with injuries. Manchester City are still yet to hit their stride and go on a run worthy of a side who are considered the best in the country, but if Aguero maintains his form, you feel like it is coming. The striker is unstoppable when he gets into this sort of form, with his movement and quality finishing making him difficult to deal with. He is the side’s talisman, and if he stays fit, Manchester City have to be considered as favourites to win the league.
It’s going to be an interesting tie, and I don’t think it will be as easy as some make out. Manchester City will want to get the tie won early so they can take off their key players in the second half, as they certainly won’t want a replay. However, Aston Villa will welcome a break from their terrible league season and will want to go on a run in the FA Cup. They are at home, which gives them a genuine chance as City are a lot worse away from home. I can see both sides scoring, but City will nick it at the end.
Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City