Aston Villa v Manchester City: Citizens to edge enjoyable encounter
Relegation-threatened and injury-hit Aston Villa host Manchester City on Super Sunday. Mark O'Haire analyses the odds...
Aston Villa v Manchester City Sunday January 12, 16:30 Sky Sports
Aston Villa show resolve in cup clash
Aston Villa bounced back from last weekend's FA Cup defeat to Fulham by putting on a brave performance in Wednesday night's EFL Cup semi-final clash at Leicester. Dean Smith's side, struggling with injuries after goalkeeper Tom Heaton and striker Wesley were ruled out for the season, defended with organisation and resilience in a new-look system in midweek.
The Villans set-up in a 3-4-3 formation, pushing the full-backs up in possession, reverting to a compact 5-3-2 when under attack. Smith's three centre-halves - Enzi Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause - all defended diligently and after surviving three early opportunities, Frederic Guilbert's first strike in Claret and Blue broke the deadlock at the King Power.
Villa came under incessant second-half pressure with third-choice goalkeeper Orjan Nyland making a few smart stops. However, their resistance eventually broke 15 minutes from time and the sides were forced to share the spoils. Despite spending the majority of the match on the back foot, captain Jack Grealish again sparkled in the Villans midfield.
Manchester City impress at Old Trafford
Manchester City earned a commanding 3-1 first leg lead in their own semi-final EFL Cup tie on Tuesday after outclassing neighbours Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Citizens enjoyed overwhelming supremacy with Pep Guardiola's side stunning home supporters with three first-half goals, and coughing up plenty of chances for even more before the break.
City, who left Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus on the bench, started with a strikerless 4-4-2 system that saw Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne their furthest players forward. It was Bernardo who broke the deadlock, with a superb strike from the edge of the box, before Riyad Mahrez doubled the advantage and Andreas Pereira in inadvertently added a third.
Guardiola's group seemed content with their lead after the break, preserving possession and territory with Claudio Bravo's goal rarely troubled late on. City are now expected to recall Aguero to the starting XI for Sunday afternoon's match-up with long-term injury absentees Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane the only players unavailable for the visitors.
Citizens to concede in victory
Manchester City have enjoyed recent duels with Aston Villa, taking top honours in nine of the duos past 11 Premier League meetings (W9-D1-L1). The Citizens have even silenced Villa in eight of the pairs most recent 10 league encounters, whilst the last two head-to-heads have been secured by an aggregate score of 7-0 in the Blue Moon's favour.
Aston Villa17.00 have earned vital victories over Burnley and Norwich in last three games to climb above the bottom-three. However, along with their obvious injury issues, Villa's chief season-long concerns centre around their slack backline efforts; the hosts are giving up divisional-high figures for shots, Expected Goals (xG), and attempts from inside the box.
Of the nine matches in which Aston Villa have avoided defeat this season, seven required Dean Smith's side to score at least two goals, highlighting the pressure put upon the Claret & Blue's forwardline, in particular Jack Grealish. And such worrying defensive displays could prove problematic against a Manchester City team stacked with offensively-minded talent.
Man City1.21 have lost three of their four Premier League away games in January under Pep Guardiola, winning only against Huddersfield last year. Meanwhile, the Citizens have conceded 14 goals in 10 away days this term, pocketing only three clean sheets across the campaign, suggesting a City win and Both Teams To Scoremight appeal at 2.10 here.
Expect entertainment at Villa Park
Manchester City are in a league of their own in terms of chance creation and the Blue Moon's league battles are also streets ahead of the pack across a range of goals-based trends. The Citizens' contests are averaging a huge 3.81 goals per-game with 18/21 (86%) paying-out for Over 2.5 Goals backers, with both figures rising when City are on the road.
Aston Villa also average goal stats above the standard lines, although Dean Smith's side do slightly regress from their overall output when playing at Villa Park. Nevertheless, the Claret & Blue delivered both Over 2.5 Goals1.29 profit when both Liverpool and Leicester visited earlier in the campaign, whilstBoth Teams To Score1.83 also banked in both matches.