City to capitalise on familiar prey
By Dave Walker
In the unpredictable hurly burly world of the Premier League there simply is no such thing as a home banker – but when Manchester City take on Aston Villa it’s the next best thing.
City have triumphed in nine of the last 10 top flight encounters in Manchester -racking up 23 goals to just six conceded – and nothing suggests things are about to change any time soon.
Villa will point to their shock 4-2 Capital One Cup victory in late September as evidence of their capabilities, but the total ineptitude of City on the night and consequent bizarre happenings, are unlikely to be repeated in a ‘proper’ game.
For a few brief moments last Saturday night Villa flattered to deceive that they wanted to inflict damage on that lot from Salford, before becoming total invertebrates, surrendering a two goal lead and letting Fergie’s bunch leave Birmingham with the obligatory three points.
It was a pitiful, panic stricken Villa and, from City’s perspective, more of the same would be most welcome at the Etihad. Roberto Mancini’s men are made of much sterner stuff and, stung by the constant media sniping, it could be Villa who find themselves in the crosshares.
There’s a goal avalanche waiting to happen from Aguero, Tevez, Dzeko, Balotelli and Co and ex-City keeper Shay Given might be counting his blessings if Brad Guzan continues between the Villa posts.
The medical centre evacuation of the likes of David Silva, Maicon, James Milner and Joleon Lescott back to first team availability could see City wreak carnage in the coming weeks.
Now is as good a time as any to stick it firmly up the fundament of the ‘gentlemen of the press’ with a goal glut and a rich harvest of both PL and Champions League points.
Equally refreshing would be to get match officials who will actually fulfill the job requirements. Every single man, woman and child bearing City blue are utterly sick of the crooks and cranks rolling up at the Etihad week in, week out.
Even in the face of being robbed blind by referees – to a man all born just outside Wedlock – City have continued to persevere and preserve a proud unbeaten run.
Last week’s momentous win over Spurs made it 17 unbeaten games in the PL - a new City record - not forgetting the admirable 32 wins and three draws compiled at home in the PL since December 2010.
The return of David Silva cannot be over-estimated, as City look to find the performances to go with the results that see them still slugging it out in defence of their crown.
He’s one of the best munitions men in the business and he’s providing the bullets and grenades for City’s marksmen to riddle the opposition. Dzeko keeps hitting the target in an uncanny fashion and Aguero is poised to explode with devastating consequences for City’s opponents.
The second half performance that overturned Tottenham could just be the sign that City – with fit bodies and fresh minds – are ready to unleash an intensity that will make their PL rivals wither.
Maicon will have drawn belief and confidence from his slaying of Spurs, Milner will be keen to take on his former team mates and Kompany will look to continue his progression back to being the best centre back in the English game.
Paul Lambert’s young braves will have to show a skill and resolve above and beyond recent games if they are to glean anything. It could be an unhappy return for ex-Blues Stephen Ireland and Richard Dunne, albeit they will receive warm and generous applause from the City faithful.
Mancini has shown great tactical nous with his substitutions this season, often turning games in City’s favour. If he can replace ambiguity with clarity in respect of zonal marking his team will be surefire winners against Villa and beyond.
Sergio Aguero vs Richard Dunne
|Photo 1: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe Photo 2: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe|
Aguero is primed to explode with a goalfest any game now and keep on going. He’s scoring as it is, but is now well into his stride after early season injury woes.
The old warhorse Dunninho will be doing well if he can get anywhere near the Argentine pocket rocket, especially after a long lay-off through injury himself. Dunney is always welcome at City – lest we forget his campaigns and long service to MCFC – but he can go home empty handed – as Villa have done in 9 of the last 10 PL games at City.