City To Face Tricky Test At Villa ParkStats
Aston Villa v Manchester City
Champions Manchester City travel to Birmingham to face Aston Villa on Saturday evening with the visitors desperate not to lost any more ground in their bid to retain the title.
Villa have been brought back down to earth somewhat after their terrific start to the season with successive 3-0 defeats, although it’s fair to say boss Paul Lambert won’t have expected his side to take much from clashes with Arsenal or Chelsea, even if an extremely difficult series of games began with an encouraging 1-0 win over Liverpool.
That victory at Anfield allied to two further wins over Stoke and Hull along with a draw against Newcastle gave the Villans ten points from their first four games and they remain in sixth spot despite those recent heavy defeats.
Goalscoring has been a problem for Villa though, only Burnley have scored fewer than their four with Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann sharing the goals between them evenly.
City suffered a disappointing result in the Champions League on Tuesday as Roma held them to a 1-1 draw at the Etihad; a result which puts them up against it to secure qualification. In truth it’s been keeping with their patchy performances to date this season though as they’ve won four drawn three and lost three games to date if the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal is also considered.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men have however, picked up as many points as any team in the Premier League on the road to date with a 2-2 draw against the Gunners last month their only dropped points away from home in three games.
Goals haven’t been hard to come by for the champions either with Sergio Aguero leading the way on five, including the opener against Roma, followed closely by Edin Dzeko and Frank Lampard, who have both scored all four of their goals in the last three games.
Lambert is hopeful of including striker Christian Benteke in the squad for the first time this season as the Belgian nears a full recovery from a long term Achilles injury, and his inclusion would certainly make the side more potent. Ron Vlaar could also make a comeback having missed the past two matches for Villa with a calf problem with the skipper sorely missed in those games.
Stevan Jovetic came off the bench for City in midweek and the Montenegro forward is in contention to start with Aguero or Dzeko the candidates for rotation should he start. Playmaker Samir Nasri is out with a groin problem but Brazilian midfielder Fernando should be available once more.
Head to Head
City have won five of the past six league games between the teams, but were beaten on their visit to Villa Park last season, when the hosts ran out 3-2 winners.
Only one of the last fourteen clashes have ended all square while five of the last seven games between the sides have also featured more than four goals.
City are huge favourites to keep up their fine away record here, at a restrictive 40/85 with Villa 13/2 to pick up their second home win of the season. After a draining Champions League game I wouldn’t be overly confident backing Pellegrini’s men and so 10/11 on both scoring looks worth backing while the goals market has eye-catching prices on over 2.5 goals at 3/4 and over 3.5 at 15/8. Both of Weimann and Agbonlahor are 31/10 to score anytime too and with City’s rearguard keeping just one clean sheet to date in the league they both hold plenty of appeal to net here.