Tuesday, 28 December 2010
City of Manchester Stadium, Kick Off 3pm
Third placed Manchester City take on Aston Villa on Tuesday afternoon in what has been confirmed as a sold out Barclay’s Premier League game at the City of Manchester Stadium.
The hosts are coming off the back of an excellent 3-1 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday while Villa will be looking to bounce back from their same day defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Both James Milner and Gareth Barry will face the club which they formed an integral part of for a number of years, though City old boys Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland look unlikely to face their former employers having fallen out of favour with Gerard Houllier.
Barry spoke this week about how important it is for City to concentrate on the next match and not
“For now though all we have to do is to concentrate on the challenge that Villa pose on Tuesday afternoon,” he said.
“It is not long to recover and they will not be happy that they lost at home to Spurs.
“It will be a tough game. We have found it hard at home because teams have come and sat deep and made it tough for us. We know too that Villa have a lot of pace on the counter. We have to be wary of that but we will be looking for three points.”
Defender Kolo Toure has completed his one match suspension for his red card against Everton but he may not feature in Roberto Mancini’s starting eleven due to injury with Joleon Lescott again deputising.
Villa welcomed promising youngster Fabian Delph back to the team against Spurs for the first time in ight months following a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, and the former Leeds United midfielder was understandably delighted to return to action.
“I feel brilliant – my knee feels fine,” he added. “Every other day I’m doing leg weights, so I’m keeping on top of everything.
“I’ve had seven or eight training sessions – I would have liked to have more but we felt I could play.
“I’m not as sharp as I’d like to be but that should come with games. Looking forward, hopefully I can get a few more games in and get a bit sharper.
“It’s all about improving and adding to my game with this gaffer and Gary McAllister and all the rest of the management. I think they can help me to do that.”
Former England striker Emile Heskey is a major doubt for the visitors having come off injured against Spurs, will both Ashley and Luke Young look set to remain sidelined.
City won the corresponding fixture 3-1 back in May despite going a goal down to a John Carew strike. Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy all got on the scoresheet though to turn the game around.
On a personal note, the game represents my first visit to the City of Manchester Stadium since March 2006 when City beat Villa in an FA Cup replay thanks to goals from Giorgios Samaras and Darius Vassell. If you are at the game and see a guy in mid-twenties looking as happy as a pubescent teenager that has just discovered masterbation then it will most likely be me so do say hello.
Manchester City – Carlos Tevez
Obvious answer is obvious but the facts are there and Tevez’s value to the side is undisputed. The Argentine has now scored 12 league goals this season following his Boxing Day double against Newcastle, and a very average Aston Villa back four represents a great opportunity to add to that tally.
Aston Villa – Gabriel Agbonlahor
Despite being an England international, Gabriel Agbonlahor is not a very good player. He has pace in abundance but poor finishing means that he will never come close to being a top Premier League striker. However the danger with Agbonlahor is that his aforementioned pace can cause defenders to panic so City’s central pairing will need to be on their toes or they will be punished. In a team that is likely to feature Emile Heskey, it’s not to suggest that Agbonlahor is Villa’s only real goal threat up front.
City 2 (Tevez, Balotelli)
Aston Villa 1 (Downing)
Thanks go to xavi6 of ManCityFans.net for writing this excellent preview.