MX23RW : Friday, February 26 04:34:01| >> :120:15959:15959:
Jan 20, 2021 at 6pm UK at Etihad Stadium
Man CityManchester City
2-0
Aston VillaAston Villa
Silva (79'), Gundogan (90' pen.)
FT(HT: 0-0)

McGinn (67'), Taylor (86'), Smith (81')
Smith (81')

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

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

Manchester City could move to the top of the Premier League table for the first time since August 2019 when they welcome Aston Villa to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Pep Guardiola's side have reinstated themselves as title favourites in the eyes of many with the best winning run any team has managed in the Premier League this season, and they will be looking to keep that going against a Villa side that has not been in top-flight action for almost three weeks.


Match preview

Manchester City's John Stones celebrates scoring against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on January 17, 2021© Reuters

Manchester City have shown more than anyone else in recent weeks how a level of consistency can be so effective in such a topsy-turvy and tightly-contested Premier League season.

Guardiola's men were as low as 15th at one stage in the campaign and have only occupied a top-four spot for less than a week throughout 2020-21 so far, yet they suddenly find themselves with the title race effectively in their hands.

Two goals from John Stones helped City to a comfortable 4-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace on Sunday, becoming the first team this season to string five top-flight wins together in the process.

The Citizens would have been the happiest of the spectators as two title rivals Liverpool and Manchester United played out a drab goalless draw at Anfield prior that victory, which allowed them to close the gap on leaders United to only two points, with City also boasting a game in hand.

In all competitions Man City's winning run now stands at eight matches stretching back more than a month, while they are unbeaten in their last 15 outings.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola pictured on January 10, 2021© Reuters

Key to their revival after a slow start has been their defensive improvement; Guardiola's men shipped seven goals in their opening three games of this season across all competitions, but have since shipped just nine in their next 25.

Man City have let in just one goal during their ongoing five-match winning streak in the league and have now kept nine clean sheets in their 17 top-flight outings this season - their best ever tally at this stage of a campaign in the competition's history.

Unsurprisingly, they also boast the best defensive record in the league overall with only 13 goals conceded from their 17 games, but in Aston Villa they come up against the second-best.

Admittedly the Villans have played at least two fewer games than anyone else in the division due to COVID-related postponements, but their tally of 16 goals conceded from 15 games is still respectable, while they have also scored as many goals as Man City this season in two fewer games.

Wednesday's match will be the first time Villa's senior side have played since New Year's Day following an outbreak of coronavirus in their squad, with the club's only outing since then seeing their valiant youngsters knocked out of the FA Cup by a strong Liverpool side.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith pictured on January 1, 2021© Reuters

Incidentally, Villa's last first-team outing was another trip to Manchester as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United, and they have not picked up a victory since beating Crystal Palace on Boxing Day.

In fairness, they have faced Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and now Man City in succession since then, and given Man City's form in general, and indeed in this fixture, Dean Smith may not be expecting too much from their trip to the Etihad.

Villa have lost 14 of their last 15 Premier League visits to Man City, including each of the last 10 in a row by a 33-4 aggregate scoreline, while home or away they are winless in nine meetings with Man City across all competitions, losing eight of those.

However, there is more reason to be optimistic this time around than on many of their previous visits, with Villa still sitting in the top half despite their games in hand. Indeed, should Villa go on to win those three games in hand then they would be right up there alongside Man City in the title mix.

Smith's side have been particularly good away from home with five wins from eight Premier League games on the road this term - as many as they had managed in their previous 49 such outings.

Manchester City Premier League form: DWWWWW
Manchester City form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Aston Villa Premier League form: WDWWDL
Aston Villa form (all competitions): DWWDLL



Team News

Sergio Aguero in action for Manchester City on December 15, 2020© Reuters

Sergio Aguero is again expected to miss out following a period of self-isolation after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Argentine, who has scored 10 goals in just seven starts against Villa including a hat-trick last season, could be in contention if he returns a negative test in time, but he is unlikely to be thrown straight back in regardless.

Gabriel Jesus led the line against Palace but failed to get amongst the goals, so Guardiola could look to shuffle his pack a little up front with the likes of Ferran Torres, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez pushing for starts after sitting out on Sunday.

Rodri, Joao Cancelo and Benjamin Mendy may also be hopeful of coming back into the side, but one player expected to start again is Kevin De Bruyne following his exquisite 100th assist for Man City last time out.

The playmaker has now provided more assists in all competitions than any other Premier League player this season and was withdrawn with 20 minutes to play on Sunday in order to keep him fresh for this match.

The in-form Stones and Ruben Dias will also expect to keep their places, despite the likelihood of Aymeric Laporte recovering from a hamstring injury. Nathan Ake and Eric Garcia could also be available, but Guardiola may view the weekend FA Cup trip to Cheltenham Town as a better opportunity to rest his new first-choice centre-back duo.

Predicting which Aston Villa team they come up against will be an exercise in guesswork for Guardiola given the coronavirus problems the visitors have experienced in recent weeks.

Ten first-team players tested positive, but who those players were and how badly they were affected remains unclear. Every player was affected in some way, though, with the Villa training ground being forced to close for 10 days.

Trezeguet is the only confirmed case and he could miss out, while Wesley is still a long-term absentee too, but the break should have given Ross Barkley the chance to get back up to speed following a thigh injury.

Villa fans will be hoping that Man City-linked Jack Grealish, more than anyone, is available; the talismanic skipper has been directly involved in 12 goals from his 15 Premier League games this season - the most by a Villa player in their first 15 games of a top-flight season since Dalian Atkinson in 1992-93.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Sterling, Foden

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn; El Ghazi, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins


SM words green background

We say: Manchester City 3-1 Aston Villa

The fact that Man City have conceded the fewest Premier League home goals this season, while Aston Villa have shipped the fewest on the road so far this term suggests that this one might not be a goal-fest.

However, Villa have also scored in all of their away games this season while Man City's four-goal showing against Crystal Palace suggests that they are beginning to rediscover their clinical edge in front of goal.

We can therefore see an entertaining game between two teams that like to attack, but ultimately it is difficult to back against Man City in their current ominous form, particularly after such a disrupted period for Villa.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data



Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


ID:431075:cQx:QQ:

How you voted: Man City vs Aston Villa

Manchester City
77.4%
Draw
10.7%
Aston Villa
12.0%
234
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Manchester City's John Stones celebrates scoring against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on January 17, 2021
Read Next:
John Stones claims Man City are "quietly confident" of title success
>
Latest Sports Video
Sports Mole Logo
Enter your email address to subscribe to Sports Mole's free match previews newsletter! Updates are sent twice a week.

rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
Championship
La Liga
Serie A
Bundesliga
Ligue 1
Eredivisie
Primeira Liga
Scottish Championship
Turkish Super Lig
Belgian Pro League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Danish Superliga
NIFL Premiership
Segunda Division
Serie B
2.Bundesliga
Eerste Divisie
Brasileiro
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Australian A-League
J1 League
Premier League 2 - Div 1
Premier League 2 - Div 2
Gallagher Premiership
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City25185250153559
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd25147453322149
3Leicester CityLeicester25154644271749
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham25136639291045
5Chelsea25127641251643
6Liverpool25117745341140
7Everton2412483733440
8Aston Villa23113937261136
9Tottenham HotspurSpurs24106837271036
10Leeds UnitedLeeds25112124343035
11Arsenal25104113126534
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2596102632-633
13Crystal Palace2595112943-1432
14Southampton2586113143-1230
15Burnley2577111830-1228
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2551192632-626
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2574142643-1725
18Fulham25410112132-1122
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom2528151955-3614
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd2532201541-2611

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!