Sunday, 3 March 2013

Match Preview: Aston Villa vs Manchester City

City look to add to Villa's relegation fears

By Aaron Leggott

After United's 4-0 victory at home to Norwich yesterday, City will be travelling to Villa Park tomorrow night with hopes of shortening United's lead back to 12 points. 
However, Roberto Mancini will be without Maicon who is suffering from a knee injury, whilst Vincent Kompany is set to miss out once again as he struggles with his calf problem. 

After his goal against Chelsea, Carlos Tevez will be hoping to grab a place in Mancini's starting eleven, whilst it would not be surprising to see Jack Rodwell keep his place after an impressive performance after returning from injury against Rafael Benitez's men. 

Villa know that after this weekend's results, tomorrow is a huge chance for them to gain some valuable points in the fight against relegation, and Paul Lambert will be boosted by the news that Ron Vlaar is set to return to the starting eleven. Shay Given and Darren Bent are also expected to return to the squad after missing the defeat against Arsenal last weekend. 

My thoughts...

I was impressed at the performance produced against Chelsea and I believe we will come up with something similar against Villa. Whilst I believe no game is easy, we have to be looking at some of the results that teams around us have produced against the Villans this season and we have to be winning this game. Not only to keep the gap at the top to just 12 points, but also to give us some breathing space between ourselves and Spurs. 

I think the pressure has been lifted off the squad since losing at Southampton last month, and we have started to see a freedom of the side similar to last season, when we won our last six games to win the league. Do I think we can repeat this again? Well, it's clearly very unlikely, but as the players are saying.. "We fight 'til the end." C'mon City!

Prediction: 3-1 win for City

Ahead of the game, I spoke to Villa fan Gez Mullholland and his thoughts on Villa and the relegation battle they face.

The last game between the sides saw Villa on the wrong side of a heavy defeat. Do you think history will repeat itself or will Villa provide a bigger threat to City on Monday night?

Gez: I think that if we are to get anything then we will have to be in top form. We are capable of holding City to a draw but a victory would be a miracle. I think City could easily put three or four past us.

Who should City keep an extra eye out for in the Villa team?

Gez: Our best player this season has been Christian Benteke and absolutely everything goes through him. He has got pace, power and strength and most importantly he has the ability to score goals regularly.

What are your views on Villa's season so far? Do you think you have what it takes to stay up?

Gez: It has been a big learning curve for the young players but ultimately I feel that we are a big club with the ability to attract big players so it is disappointing to see that the club has opted for talent in the lower leagues. Saying that, I still think we can stay up.

We have shown glimpses of being a half decent mid-table team after beating Liverpool as well as drawing at Everton and Swansea, but on the other hand we are also shocking at times. Losing 8-0 at Chelsea and 3-0 at home to Wigan are performances that stand out the most.

It will be touch and go but home games coming up against Fulham, QPR and Sunderland give us a chance.

Predicted Villa line up?

Gez: (4-2-3-1): Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett; Westwood, El Ahmadi; N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Weimann; Benteke.

Thoughts on the young players at Villa?

Gez: Some of the young players have done well - Westwood is one to watch, as is Benteke and Weimann has been very lively since joining. However, others haven't really done themselves justice. Bennett, for example, has been poor and looked out of his depth.

Who do you think will be City's key player and why?

Gez: Yaya Toure. Villa lack bite in the midfield and that guy is a tank, he will cause us a lot of problems.

Thanks to Gez for taking the time out to answer these questions and I wish you the best of luck for the rest of the season (apart from tomorrow, obviously!)

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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