Manchester City play host to Aston Villa in gameweek 34 of their 2014/15 Barclays Premier League campaign, and will be looking to register their second consecutive league win after comfortably overcoming West Ham United by 2-0 last weekend.
The reigning English champions have experienced an obnoxious second half of the season, which has seen them win only 6 of their last 14 league games since the beginning of this calendar year and consequently drop to 4th place, behind Arsenal and Manchester United in the 2nd and 3rd places respectively, on the Premier League table.
In Aston Villa, they face the kind of opponents who will be full of energy after defeating Liverpool in the semifinals of this season’s FA Cup and also winning their last Premier League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Can they repeat such heavyweight success when they travel to the home of champions tomorrow tea time? Read on…
Though there has not been much scope for satisfaction of late from Manuel Pellegrini’s perspective, the City manager will be happy about the return to form of his first-choice striker, Sergio Aguero. The Argentine ace has scored 3 goals in his last two Premier League games, going past a 100 City goals as a result of his brace against the Red Devils and solitary goal against the Hammers.
In fact: the victory over Sam Allardyce’s side saw some of the key personnel in the City ranks find form and put in really good performances; Jesus Navas was the standout performer for the Citizens, who also had the likes of Fernando Reges, Eliaquim Mangala and Pablo Zabaleta put up solid defensive displays.
Looking ahead to the game against Tim Sherwood’s side, the priority has got to be on consistency and following up last Sunday’s win with another home victory in the Premier League.
City, in their last two league fixtures, lined up in the archetype 4-2-3-1 system, which their supporters have been calling for of late.
Pellegrini, a staunch advocate of the 4-4-2 formation, has seen his side play better while lining up in the 1-striker system, though the Chilean’s decision has been forced due to injuries to Wilfried Bony and Stevan Jovetic while Edin Dzeko’s poor form has seen him consigned to City’s bench in the last two games.
As far as tomorrow’s home clash against Villa is concerned, Pellegrini’s men need to strike early and score that all-important first goal.
The Villains will, most probably, sit deep and make life difficult for their illustrious opponents, who have not been able to breakdown teams that have defended in numbers in front of their own goal.
If the Ron Vlaar-led Villa backline can frustrate City’s attackers and not concede that first goal, they will be a force to reckon with on the counterattack.
City’s rearguard too, will have its task cut out against the fleet-footed Villa players and needs to be on its toes, to avert any danger to Joe Hart’s goal.
It will also be interesting to see if Pellegrini goes back to playing 4-4-2 if Bony returns to action from his ankle injury, as the Ivorian has trained with the squad during this week.
Tomorrow’s visitors, despite progressing to the finals of the FA Cup where they will be facing Arsenal at the Wembley Stadium on 30th of May, are still not out of the relegation battle along with the likes of Hull City, Leicester City, Burnley, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers – teams that follow Sherwood’s side in 15th place.
The appointment of Sherwood in February has brought about renewed hope for the Midlands’ club, though their Premier League results have not been consistent: the Villains have won only 3 of their last 7 league games.
However, having said that, Villa have scored a lot more goals since Sherwood took over the reigns from Paul Lambert, scoring 15 goals in their last 9 games across all competitions and also conceding a respectable 10 goals during the same period.
|Christian Benteke will be a key player for the visitors tomorrow|
Going into tomorrow’s game against Manchester City, the goal scoring form of Christian Benteke, who has scored 8 goals in his last 6 league games for Villa, will be particularly pleasing for Sherwood.
The likes of 19-year old Jack Grealish, Fabian Delph and Carlos Sanchez have also raised their performance levels in recent games and need to produce solid displays against the Champions, if Villa are to get something from this game.
Defensive discipline will be the game plan as far as tomorrow’s visitors are concerned, as Manchester City, despite their recent struggles in front of goal, still possess one of the world class attacking forces in the Premier League and are fighting for direct qualification into next season’s UEFA Champions League.
So, from Villa’s perspective: hard work and defensive endeavor will have to be their mantra when they travel to the Etihad Stadium tomorrow.
Manchester City will look to start quickly and catch Villa off guard early on in the game.
However, considering the confidence levels of the Aston Villa players, following their recent success over Spurs and The Reds, we could just be in for an exciting game, with both sides looking to score goals and playing an attacking brand of football.
Manchester City 3:1 Aston Villa