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    Aston Villa v Manchester City - Match Preview

    by Conall Green

    It’s top versus bottom in the Premier League this Sunday lunchtime as Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City travel to Villa Park to take on basement club Aston Villa, who will have Remi Garde taking charge in the dugout for the first time.

    Garde, who watched his side lose at White Hart Lane on Monday night, will know he has his work cut out to get Villa, who look bereft of confidence, to climb their way up the table; and his first home game could not be much tougher.

    Since a chastening 4-1 defeat to Tottenham on September 26th, City have went on an eight game unbeaten run in all competitions, with seven wins and one draw; the only aberration being the drab nil all draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford. They sealed progression to the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday night with a clinical 3-1 win against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, and will approach Sunday’s game in buoyant mood.

    Villa on the other hand have lost seven straight league games, and six in all competitions, and the four points they have collected this season have come against fellow strugglers Bournemouth and Sunderland.

    Some positive news for Garde is that Argentine assassin Sergio Aguero is still unavailable with a hamstring injury, as is midfielder Samir Nasri. Aguero’s international team mate, right back Pablo Zabaleta will miss out with a knee problem. On the other hand, Spanish Maestro David Silva could possibly be back to pull the strings in the City midfield. Gael Clichy is fit to play, as is Fabian Delph, who was the main protagonist in an ongoing transfer saga between the two clubs this summer. Delph will certainly not be expecting a warm welcome from the Holte End on his return to Villa Park.

    Bony has recently been showing his best form since moving to Manchester.

    In the absence of Silva and Aguero, the likes of Wilfried Bony, Raheem Sterling have really stepped to the plate. Since Aguero got injured on international duty, Sterling and Bony have contributed four goals each in the last six games. Young Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho has also taken advantage of his opportunity, scoring twice in eight appearances since making his debut this season.

    Aston Villa have slight doubts over former City defender Micah Richards, who has a knock, Gabby Agbonlahor, who still has a calf niggle, and Ashley Westwood, who was hit in the face by Moussa Dembele’s flailing arm on Monday night and had to come off looking dazed. All three could still possibly feature on Sunday.

    Garde will have to find a way to add goals to the side, with only Stoke having scored less than Villa’s paltry ten in eleven games. Rudy Gestede is their top league score with three. Villa fans will be hopeful that Garde can get the best out of young winger Adama Traore, who showed flashes of his ability at the start of the season after arriving from Barcelona, but has been hampered by injury until recently. Carles Gil showed some nice touches after coming off the bench on Monday evening, and will hope to have impressed sufficiently to get the nod from his new boss.

    Could Traore be the catalyst for Villa to crawl their way up the table?

    Villa have a poor recent record against City, with the Manchester side winning eight of the last ten meetings. This is reflected in the bookmakers’ odds for the fixture, with the away side firm favourites at 4/9. The draw is available at 15/4, with Villa massive 7/1 outsiders. Over 2.5 goals is available at 4/6, Bony to score at any time is evens, and City (-1) is 6/5, all of which look like good value with Pellegrini’s side having hit five or more three times since the beginning of October.

    Garde may have a galvanising effect to an extent, as new managers often do, but I can’t see him transforming a Villa side so short on belief in the space of seven days.

    Prediction: Aston Villa 0-4 Manchester City. City to run out comprehensive victors.
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    Item Reviewed: Aston Villa v Manchester City - Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Conall Green
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