Manchester City vs Aston Villa
Odds: City 7/4, Villa 9/5, Draw 23/10
Last competitive meeting: Villa 4 – 2 City (17/08/08)
Premiership form: Manchester City: WLWLDL Aston Villa: WWWWLD
Darius Vassell’s favourite opposition, Aston Villa, arrive in Manchester this week to face City, a team which could well be classed as the midland club’s ‘bogey side’. In the last 10 meetings between the two clubs City have won 6 games whereas Villa have only managed 2 victories.
Villa are the focus of much envy from City fans this season. They currently occupy fourth spot in the Premier League – a position much converted by the Blues as well as fans of the rest of the chasing pack. Wednesday’s game is a chance for Villa to further their claim for fourth and for City to mount an equally important push for Europe. With one of the Big Four winning the Carling Cup on Sunday and a good probability the to-be-crowned FA Cup winners will have qualified for Europe by other means, seventh spot may just guarantee City are back in European action next season.
Money, money, money has been the talk of mancityfans.net this week with some of Mark Hughes’ signings coming under a lot of scrutiny. The 11 that started versus West Ham were brought in for a cool £90m. In comparison the Villa team which faced Stoke last weekend was brought in for under £64m – just under £30m, or in footballing terms, a 90% of Robinho less. With some sections of the City faithful questioning Hughes’ managerial abilities and others tearing the anti-Hughes message down, the future of City’s dugout is in a state of limbo at this moment in time. Whatever your opinion, one can’t help but feel a little disappointed with our current league position after all the hype an attention we’ve had recently.
Last Time Out
Sometimes it’s satisfying to see teams other than your own failing to concentrate for a full 90 minutes. On Sunday it was Villa who were guilty of such tactics when they were undone by long-ball merchants Stoke City. Resting half of their squad last week, which resulted in them being dumped out of the UEFA Cup, did little for Martin O’Neill’s side who were widely expected to beat the relegation candidates. On a side note, it was particularly interesting to witness just how much Villa prioritise that fourth spot over a possible European cup run.
Another away day defeat for City blew away our UEFA cheer. Jack Collison’s 70th minute strike was enough to make the defeat City’s 8th on the road this season – no team currently outside of the relegation zone have lost more away. The game needn’t have panned out the way it did – City looked bright at times and there were one or two glaring misses by the forwards. Still, a loss is a loss. It’s not just Sunday’s defeat, but the overall lack of success on the road which has left the City faithful feeling dejected at present.
Impact striker Craig Bellamy is definitely out after limping off in City’s last match making a space upfront which Mark Hughes will have to decide to fill. His three choices, Bojinov, Caciedo & Evans, are all relatively inexperienced in the Premier League but at least one will have the chance to shine over the next few weeks in Bellamy’s absence. Caciedo is favorite to start if Hughes’s recent team choices are anything to go by. We’re still not sure if Bojinov is 90 minutes fit. According to physioroom.com Benjani and/or Sturridge could make the bench.
City are also without home performer Robinho after he re-injured an ankle on Sunday. This will almost certainly mean a start for fellow Brazilian Elano. Micah Richards faces a late fitness test which, if he fails, could mean a start for Vassell or Fernandes after some positional rejigging.
Apart from long-term layoff Wilfred Bouma and medium term layoff Martin Laursen striker Emile Heskey is Villa’s only injury worry. The England international picked up a slight knock against Stoke, however Villa have a similar replacement in John Carew should Martin O’Neill choose not to use Heskey.
Look Mum’s Prediction:
We’re good at home, we’re rubbish away. 2-0 City.
Many thanks to LookMumImOnMCF.Net for this preview.