MX23RW : Saturday, June 19 02:28:23| >> :120:14116:14116:
Jan 12, 2020 at 4.30pm UK at Villa Park
Attendance: 41,823
Aston Villa
Man CityManchester City
El Ghazi (90' pen.)
FT(HT: 0-4)
Mahrez (18', 24'), Aguero (28', 57', 81'), Jesus (45')

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

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Manchester City, including team news and predicted lineups.

Manchester City will continue their pursuit of the top two in the Premier League table when they travel to struggling Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.

Pep Guardiola's side are currently third in the division, 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, while Villa occupy 17th position, just one point clear of the relegation zone as things stand.

Match preview

Jack Grealish in action for Aston Villa on December 4, 2019© Reuters

Villa might have invested heavily in their squad over the summer, but there is no getting away from the fact that it has been a tough 2019-20 campaign for Dean Smith's side thus far.

Indeed, they have only won six of their 21 Premier League matches, drawing three and losing the other 12 to collect 21 points, which is only good enough for 17th position at this stage of the season.

There are actually just two points between Villa in 17th and Watford in 19th, meaning that a couple of poor results for Smith's team could, quite quickly, leave them inside the relegation zone.

Jack Grealish has been impressive this term but not too much inspiration has arrived from elsewhere, and Wesley, who was signed to score the goals, is now out for the remainder of the campaign with a knee injury.

Villa did pick up three huge points in their last Premier League game on New Year's Day, though, recording a 2-1 victory at Burnley with Wesley and Grealish on the scoresheet.

Aston Villa midfielder Anwar El Ghazi pictured in September 2019© Reuters

Smith's side have played two matches since the victory at Turf Moor, though, first losing 2-1 to Fulham in the third round of the FA Cup before picking up a 1-1 draw at Leicester City in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.

A large volume of matches is not what Villa need at the moment, although it is another 18 days until they host Leicester for the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final. They will play three times in the league before then, taking on City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Watford during an important period.

The omens are not exactly terrific for Villa heading into this clash considering that they have lost nine of their last 11 Premier League games with City, recording just one victory in the process.

Smith's team have also only collected one point from their 10 matches against teams currently in the top half of the Premier League table, although the draw in question came away to Manchester United.

Pep Guardiola watches on during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Manchester United on December 7, 2019© Reuters

It is difficult to place City in a Premier League title race when considering that they are 14 points off leaders Liverpool, who have a game in hand. The gap from third to second-placed Leicester City is only a point, though, and the Foxes will certainly be feeling the heat from the reigning champions.

The fact that Guardiola's side have already lost five Premier League matches this term is an indication of their problems, but they are eight points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea and will still believe that they can finish immediately behind Liverpool even if they cannot catch them.

City have also kept a clean sheet in eight of their last 10 league meetings with Villa, while they will enter the match off the back of four straight victories in three separate competitions.

Indeed, since losing 3-2 at Wolverhampton Wanderers on December 27, the Citizens have beaten Sheffield United and Everton in the Premier League, in addition to recording a 4-1 victory over Port Vale in the FA Cup.

City then secured a 3-1 win over Manchester United in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final at Old Trafford. The home side were disappointing in Tuesday's affair, but it was a hugely impressive performance from the holders of the competition, who will also continue their Champions League campaign next month.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates Andreas Pereira's own goal with Bernardo Silva during the EFL Cup game between Manchester United and Manchester City on January 7, 2020© Reuters

City's next match after this one is at home to Crystal Palace on January 18, before travelling to Sheffield United three days later. They will then welcome Fulham and Manchester United in the FA Cup and EFL Cup respectively ahead of a trip to Tottenham Hotspur at the start of February.

As mentioned, the knockout stage of the Champions League will also begin next month, and Guardiola's side have the small matter of a trip to Real Madrid on February 26.

City might have dropped more points in their 21 league matches this term than they did in the whole of their last two campaigns, but it could still be a hugely successful season in terms of trophies.

Guardiola's side are yet to be active in the January window and suggestions of a move for a new central defender have quietened with Aymeric Laporte making huge progress in his recovery from a knee injury.

Aston Villa Premier League form: LLLWLW
Aston Villa form (all competitions): LWLWLD

Man City Premier League form: LWWLWW
Man City form (all competitions): WLWWWW

Team News

Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte is stretchered off on August 31, 2019© Reuters

Villa are struggling in the final third ahead of Sunday's contest as Jonathan Kodjia is a doubt with the illness that ruled him out of the EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Leicester.

Wesley is out of the season with a knee injury, meanwhile, meaning that Anwar El-Ghazi could again feature as the centre-forward in a 5-4-1 formation.

Injuries to Tom Heaton and Jed Steer are likely to see Orjan Nyland keep his spot in the XI despite suggestions that experienced goalkeeper Pepe Reina is on the verge of joining the club.

John McGinn and Keinan Davis are also still out, but Matt Targett is available following injury and there could also be a debut for Danny Drinkwater, who has joined on loan from Chelsea.

As for City, Leroy Sane and Laporte remain sidelined with knee injuries, but the pair are both believed to be making positive progress as they eye February returns.

Guardiola otherwise has a fully-fit squad to choose from, meaning that Ederson is likely to return between the sticks in place of Claudio Bravo.

Sergio Aguero was left on the bench against Manchester United on Tuesday but should return, while Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva are likely to continue in the final third of the field.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Nyland; Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Hause, Targett; Trezeguet, Nakamba, Luiz, Grealish; El Ghazi

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy; Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan; Sterling, Aguero, Bernardo

Head To Head

City lead the overall head-to-head 72 wins to Villa's 57, while there have also been 41 draws between the two teams throughout history.

As mentioned above, the Citizens have dominated the recent meetings, winning six of their last seven encounters in all competitions.

Villa's last home victory over City came in the Premier League in September 2013, but they suffered a 3-0 loss when they travelled to the Etihad Stadium earlier this season.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester City

Villa are certainly capable of causing City problems on Sunday afternoon, but it is very difficult to back anything other than an away win. Guardiola's side were excellent at Old Trafford and should have more than enough to put another three points on the board this weekend.

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Aston Villa manager Dean Smith watches his side beaten by Wolves on November 10, 2019
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