MX23RW : Sunday, October 27 15:28:51| >> :600:203916:203916:
Oct 26, 2019 at 12.30pm UK at ​Etihad Stadium
Attendance: 54,506
Man CityManchester City
Aston Villa
Sterling (46'), Silva (65'), Gundogan (70')
Fernandinho (87')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Manchester City vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Manchester City's meeting with Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday, including a prediction, team news and predicted lineups.

Manchester City resume Premier League action this weekend with a game against Aston Villa at the Etihad.

The Premier League champions will hope that they continue to make up ground on leaders Liverpool, who are six points ahead of them in the Premier League.

Manchester City

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling in action with Crystal Palace's Joel Ward on October 19, 2019© Reuters

Pep Guardiola's men have responded in ideal fashion to suffering a damaging 2-0 defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers prior to the international break.

The Citizens claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, who are something of a bogey team, ahead of recovering from going a goal down to thrash Atalanta 5-1 in the Champions League.

As domestic football returns to the Etihad this weekend, City players will know that slipping up at home even once more this season could have fatal consequences for their title defence.

Following consecutive years during which it seemed as if nobody could touch them, the Premier League champions possess greater firepower than ever but perhaps have more question marks surrounding their capacity to hold firm at the back.

Indeed, in the wake of Vincent Kompany's departure, combined with injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, it has been demonstrated by both Norwich City and Wolves that hitting City with fast counter-attacks down the middle of the pitch can open up gaps in behind.

This current impediment, along with more intangible factors like 'pedigree' and 'heritage', may combine to explain why City could struggle in Europe again this season - a problem that is preventing this side from joining the pantheon of the game's very best teams.

However, when it comes to these games at home against lesser opponents, City will always back their attacking unit to substantially outscore whomever they come up against.

Saturday's visitors will take heart from the blueprint laid down by Wolves but must also be conscious of the fact that this City team has scored 21 goals in six home games since August.

Recent form: WLWWLW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDWW

Aston Villa

John McGinn celebrates scoring for Aston Villa on September 28, 2019© Reuters

The story of Villa this season has been one of a team which has almost visibly grown into its skin since the opening weekend.

Defeats to Bournemouth and Crystal Palace along with a tepid home draw with West Ham United during the club's opening four league games were indicative of a team which, although solid at the back, looked to be missing something going forward.

However, it seems as if a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates, which saw the visitors take the lead twice and lose the game to a last minute goal, served as something of a turning point when it came to the intensity of Villa's performances.

Since that loss, Smith's side has managed at least two goals in every game, including an impressive 5-1 victory over Norwich at Carrow Road that was hallmarked by a front three of Jack Grealish, Anwar El Ghazi and Wesley cutting through the Canaries at will.

Moreover, the Villans have been bolstered by the strong form of attacking midfielder John McGinn, with the Scot scoring three goals and claiming one assist this term, often making smart late runs to join attacks and create overloads through the middle.

If Villa are to pull off one of the shocks of the season at the Etihad this weekend, the aforementioned attacking quartet must make use of any pocket of space that happens to come their way. Watford, for example, actually had an excellent chance to equalise after just five minutes at the Etihad, only to squander it and end up losing 8-0.

Smith has so far refused to deviate from a rigid 4-3-3 system, whose primary aim is for the team to attack and defend as one unit, and will need his players to function as one perfectly unified entity if they are to succeed at keeping this City team at arm's length.

Then again, as every team knows, even being perfect against such a litany of superstars can sometimes not be quite enough.

Recent form: LDLDWW
Recent form (all competitions): DLWDWW

Team News

Oleksandr Zinchenko in action for Manchester City on July 27, 2019© Reuters

City face an anxious wait to determine the severity of a knee injury sustained by Oleksandr Zinchenko ahead of Tuesday's win over Atalanta.

The champions will also endure a period of uncertainty when it comes to record signing Rodri Hernandez, who was forced off against Atalanta with a thigh problem.

Leroy Sane and Laporte, both of whom have knee ligament injuries, are not expected to return to action until the New Year.

For Villa, the only injury concern comes in the form of Jose Peleteiro Ramallo as the attacking midfielder continues to recover from a hernia operation.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy; Gundogan, De Bruyne, Silva; Bernardo, Sterling, Jesus

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett; Nakamba, Hourihane, McGinn; El Ghazi, Grealish, Wesley

Head To Head

City's record against Villa is somewhat imperious, with the Midlands side last claiming a Premier League win at the Etihad in 2007.

Since 2010, the two teams have met on 16 occasions with City winning 12 times, their last defeat - home or away - coming under Manuel Pellegrini in 2013. Fernandinho is the only current City player who started in that game.

This will be Guardiola's first ever meeting with Villa given that the two sides last played each other in March 2016 - a game which saw the Citizens win 4-0.

Perhaps the most historic encounter between these two sides came in May 2014, when City, against the backdrop of Liverpool's infamous capitulations against Chelsea and then Crystal Palace, effectively sealed their second Premier League title by beating Villa 4-0.

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We say: Manchester City 4-0 Aston Villa

Villa will certainly have their moments in this game, but the consistency with which City manage to score early goals in encounters like these, thereby taking control of its pace, means that the newly-promoted side are truly up against it.

Even if Villa do have a perfect opening 45 minutes, just one mistake in the second half could open the floodgates for City, who rarely waste their chances at home.

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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Manchester City and Aston Villa?

Manchester City
Aston Villa
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Phil Foden takes a shot during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Leicester City on May 6, 2019
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