The FourFourTwo Preview: Aston Villa vs Man City
Villa, without a point at home or their star striker, welcome free-scoring City – but Manuel Pellegrini’s men have yet to win on the road.
Full of confidence following the demolition of their Manchester neighbours, Saturday represents an excellent opportunity for City to pick up a first away win after two underwhelming displays at Stoke and Cardiff.
ASTON VILLA FORM
- Aston Villa 0-4 Tottenham (LC)
- Norwich 0-1 Aston Villa (Prem)
- Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle (Prem)
- Aston Villa 3-0 Rotherham (LC)
- Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool (Prem)
MAN CITY FORM
- Man City 5-0 Wigan (LC)
- Man City 4-1 Man Utd (Prem)
- Plzen 0-3 Man City (CL)
- Stoke 0-0 Man City (Prem)
- Man City 2-0 Hull (Prem)
Villa’s young side have struggled in front of their own fans so far – they were taken apart by Tottenham in the Capital One Cup in midweek – and the news that Christian Benteke will be sidelined for four to six weeks will do little to improve morale going into this fixture. Having dragged his side out of the relegation zone last term, the striker had scored four already this season before picking up a hip injury in last week’s win at Norwich.
The good news for manager Paul Lambert is that £7m summer arrival Libor Kozak came off the bench to score the winner at Carrow Road. But expecting the Czech forward to create as much havoc in the box as the bustling Belgian is a big ask – especially against City's defence.
Lambert’s alternative option in attack is big Dane Nicklas Helenius, who will no doubt ensure he’s wearing his finest underwear after baring all against Spurs on Tuesday.
As the Premier League’s top scorers, Pellegrini has no such worries upfront, with Tuesday’s 5-0 cup win over Wigan seeing Stevan Jovetic join fellow big-money strikers Alvaro Negredo, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko on City’s scoring chart. Relying on one man to bag the goals is one problem this squad doesn’t have.
City have had few problems against Villa in the last two seasons, winning their last four Premier League meetings 1-0, 5-0, 1-0 and 4-1.
Lambert admitted his side has been “running on empty” after a succession of injuries, the worst being Jores Okore’s collision with Newcastle’s Loic Remy that has ruled him out for the season with ligament damage.
But having averted a full-blown injury crisis, midfield pairing Ashley Westwood and Charles N’Zogbia remain the Scot’s only other absentees, both with minor knocks.
For the visitors, summer signing Martin Demichelis is expected to miss a further three weeks after damaging knee ligaments in training.
Player to watch: Alvaro Negredo (Man City)
Aguero and Yaya Toure made most of the headlines following Sunday’s win over United, but Spaniard Negredo was a constant menace in his best performance yet for the Sky Blues. Muscular on the ball and with quicker feet than Dzeko, he caused Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand plenty of problems.
Desperately unlucky not to score with one of his five shots, the former Sevilla man did provide the knock-down for Toure’s goal, as well as the cross for Aguero’s second. After combining so well with the Argentine, it would be a surprise to see Pellegrini rotate his pack for this fixture.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Aston Villa 0-1 Man City (Prem, Mar 13)
- Man City 5-0 Aston Villa (Prem, Nov 12)
- Man City 2-4 Aston Villa (LC, Sep 12)
- Aston Villa 0-1 Man City (Prem, Feb 12)
- Man City 4-1 Aston Villa (Prem, Oct 11)
It’s a case of one step forward, two steps back for Lambert in the Villa dugout. Just as his young charges show signs that they are coming of age, they are prone to falling flat, as they did so regularly last season. But the Glaswegian has no intention of sacrificing his ideas on how the game should played, and insists he “trusts” his team more this term.
As deadpan as ever in interviews, some much-needed consistency in the league – especially at home – could be just the thing to bring a smile to his face.
The charismatic Pellegrini appears as laid back as ever as he finds his feet at the Etihad, and there’s nothing like a derby victory to win over any doubters. Such a managerial approach could be just what this squad needs after Roberto Mancini’s boot-camp regime isolated a number of players. Samir Nasri, for one, seems rejuvenated under the Chilean gaffer.
Facts and figures
- The Villans have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 13 Premier League home games.
- Manchester City have won six of their last seven Premier League encounters with Aston Villa.
- The last four Premier League meetings between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park have seen a total of five goals scored.
- Brad Guzan has had the most touches of any Villa player in two games this season (Arsenal & Norwich), something no other goalkeeper has done for a side even once in 2013-14.
- Aston Villa have conceded nine goals from penalties since the start of last season; a joint-PL-high with Arsenal.
- After replacing Christian Benteke against Norwich last week, Libor Kozak was on the field for one minute and 41 seconds before scoring his first-ever Premier League goal – the fastest goal by a substitute this season.
- Along with bottom club Sunderland, Aston Villa are the only team yet to win a single point at home this season.
- Man City have kept three clean sheets in their last four Premier League away games.
- However, the Citizens have won only three of their last 10 top-flight matches away from the Etihad Stadium (D3 L4).
- Aston Villa have lost their last three Premier League home games and have suffered nine defeats in their last 13 at Villa Park.
Boosted by two wins and nine goals in the last week, Pellegrini’s men will finally come good away. 1-3.
Aston Villa vs Man City LIVE ANALYSIS using Stats Zone