MX23RW : Tuesday, October 27 03:08:02| >> :120:6886:6886:
Mar 5, 2016 at 3pm UK at Etihad Stadium
Attendance: 53,892
Man CityManchester City
4-0
Aston Villa
Toure (48'), Aguero (50', 60'), Sterling (66')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Manchester City vs. Aston Villa

Sports Mole previews Manchester City's home Premier League encounter against bottom-placed Aston Villa.

Two sides relatively low in confidence will meet at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

While hosting Manchester City have seen their Premier League title hopes suffer a number of blows recently, visiting Aston Villa are facing up to the prospect of life in the second tier of English football for the first time since 1988.


Man City

Outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini watches on during the Premier League game between Sunderland and Manchester City on February 2, 2016© Getty Images

Over the last 10 days the Citizens have put another trophy in the cabinet and also gone a long way to booking their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Ordinarily it should be a time for optimism and excitement, yet City's woeful form in the Premier League has dampened the mood.

Wednesday night's 3-0 loss away at Liverpool - a side that City defeated on penalties to lift the League Cup three days earlier - compounded the misery. It was a third league defeat in a row and not since 2007 have the side from East Manchester been on such a run.

Asked why his side were suffering, outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini blamed a busy schedule: "From the beginning [against Liverpool] I saw our team was not fresh. We had not recovered from the last week with the Champions League game with the travel from Ukraine and the game on Sunday."

In terms of winning the title, it is now a big ask for Pellegrini's men. They head into the weekend in fourth position and 10 points adrift of leaders Leicester City.

Even with a game in hand to fall back on, it would take somebody with a bottomless pit of money to bet on City clinching a third league trophy since 2012.

Recent form: WDWLLL
Recent form (all competitions): LLLWDL


Villa

Remi Garde wonders WHY during the Premier League game between Aston Villa and Everton on March 1, 2016© Getty Images

Supporters at Villa Park have had enough and they showed as much during Tuesday night's 3-1 defeat at home to Everton.

Thousands headed for the exit in the 74th minute of that game - the club was formed in 1874 - in protest at the way that the outfit is being run by American businessman Randy Lerner.

Their dismay is understandable given that the bottom-placed side has won just three matches all season, losing 18 times. A division-low 22 goals have been scored since the start of the campaign, while 51 have been shipped up the other end. It is a bleak situation, to say the least.

Asked for his take on the walk-out by fans, manager Remi Garde said: "I am concentrating on my job. I don't have any comments about the fans. It's something very deep, very old. My job is difficult enough."

Talking of Garde, there have been suggestions in France today that he is close to sealing a return back to his former club Lyon.

Eight points adrift of safety with 10 matches left to play, it appears to be a case of when and not if Villa are relegated to the Championship. It will be a sad day, particularly considering that they are one of just seven teams that have competed in every single season of the Premier League since its inception in 1992.

Recent form: DLWLLL
Recent form (all competitions): LLWLLL


Team News

Manchester City's Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho makes his debut during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at The Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on August 29, 2015© Getty Images

With Raheem Sterling struggling for form, there is a chance that Pellegrini may partner Sergio Aguero up front with Nigerian youngster Kelechi Iheanacho.

The 19-year-old scored a hat-trick against Villa when the teams met in the FA Cup in January, so he seems to have their card marked.

Elsewhere, Yaya Toure should recover from a foot injury to feature, while Bacary Sagna is in line to replace Pablo Zabaleta at right-back.

As for Villa, it is unlikely that Garde will ring the changes, despite the loss to Everton during the week.

Brad Guzan regained his place in goal for that encounter and the American is expected to continue between the posts at the Etihad.

Man City possible starting lineup:
Hart; Sagna, Kompany, Otamendi, Clichy; Fernando, Toure; Navas, Silva; Aguero, Iheanacho

Villa possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Richards, Clark, Lescott; Hutton, Cissokho; Bacuna, Westwood, Gana; Ayew, Agbonlahor


Head To Head

Aside from the FA Cup tie a few weeks ago, these two also played out a 0-0 draw at Villa Park earlier in the season.

In recent years, though, it is a fixture that has been dominated by City.

Of the last 17 games in all competitions, Villa have come out on top only three times.

Their last win at the Etihad in the Premier League came in April 2007 thanks to unanswered goals from Shaun Maloney and John Carew.


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We say: Man City 3-0 Villa

City are not in great form, but Villa have been hopeless on the road - winning just once. You would expect a reaction from the home side and if they can get enough of the ball to Aguero, they should win this game easily.


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Outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini watches on during the Premier League game between Sunderland and Manchester City on February 2, 2016
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