Manchester City v Aston Villa: Guardiola's in-form side can blank visiting Villa
Manchester City host Aston Villa on Wednesday night and Simon Mail expects Pep Guardiola's side to continue their surge towards the top of the league...
Manchester City v Aston Villa
Live on BT Sport 2
City in ominous form
Manchester City may have made an inauspicious start to the season but the 1.64 Premier League title favourites appear to be hitting top gear at a crucial stage of the season. Pep Guardiola's side have won five successive league games to climb into second place in the table. With a game in hand on leaders Manchester United and only two points behind, there is no doubting the team to beat heading into the second half of the season.
The Citizens extended their unbeaten record to 15 matches in all competitions after demolishing Crystal Palace 4-0 on Sunday. It was a dominant performance and City have started adding goals to their impressive defensive record this season. John Stones continued his outstanding resurgence with the defender scoring twice while Kevin De Bruyne provided his 100th assist for the club. City have conceded the fewest goals in the league and their swagger is back which will be an ominous warning to their title rivals.
Villa not at full strength after Covid crisis
Aston Villa are preparing for their first league game since the first day of the year after suffering a Covid-19 outbreak. The club's training ground has been closed in recent weeks and their home match last week against Tottenham was postponed.
Villa, who were forced to field a youth team in their FA Cup defeat to Liverpool, were also due to face Everton on Sunday but this was also called off leaving question marks about their players' health and fitness heading into this game.
Villa were beaten 2-1 at Manchester United at the start of January but the team have been impressive this season. Eight wins from 15 games is a strong return and the side have as many as three games in hand on the teams above them. Jack Grealish has been exceptional this season and the team will hope the playmaker is fit to start this match.
Hard to bet against short-priced favourites
City are overwhelming favourites for this match and it is hard to disagree with this status based on recent form. The hosts are hitting their stride and have not lost a game since defeat at Tottenham in November. City have beaten Villa in their last five clashes and have everything in their favour but are short enough at 1.26.
Villa have been dismissed as no-hopers at 13.5 and this looks slightly harsh based on their progressive form this season. Countering this, their Covid-19 problems have hurt their chances and a miserable record against their opponents suggests it will prove beyond them.
The draw is trading at 7.2 which is another big price that will tempt some but it is not for me. Only one of the last 19 meetings between the sides have ended in a draw and City appear to be close to their best. A home win is expected but it is worth switching to other markets to extract value on a City success.
City to keep it clean again
City's solidity at the back suggests this could be their best chance of a prolonged challenge in the Champions League. But their impressive defence has also been instrumental in helping them rise up the league as they look to reclaim the title. City have conceded just 13 goals in 17 league games and have kept four successive clean sheets in all competitions. The side have also recorded a league high nine shut outs.
Stones and Ruben Dias have formed an exceptional defensive partnership with the side conceding just one goal in the ten games they have started together this season.
All six of City's wins at home this season have seen them keep a clean sheet. With confidence soaring throughout their side, the Citizens can take another step towards the top with a victory without conceding at the Etihad at Evens.
Betfair's Same Game Multi option offers no shortage of ways to increase the odds on a selection and is worth looking at as a way to support the favourites. Backing City to win, with a clean sheet and over 2.5 goals boosts the price to 3.8. The last five clashes between the two sides have seen at least three goals scored.
Manchester City have conceded the fewest Premier League home goals this season (7), while Aston Villa have shipped the fewest on the road so far this term (5). Under 1.5 goals in their midweek match is 9/2.
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