Aston Villa (6-3-12) vs. Manchester City (14-2-5)
Premier League: Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 11:30 am ET (Villa Park)
Line and Odds: Aston Villa +1509/Manchester City -597 — Over: -116; Under: +104
FREE EPL Pick Aston Villa vs Manchester City
Manchester City travel to Villa Park on
the back of four consecutive victories in all competitions while the hosts lie
just one point above the drop zone
Aston Villa host defending champions Manchester City in Matchday 22 of the English Premier League on Sunday. Dean Smith’s side find themselves in a dangerous position and a loss to City, coupled with other results going in an unfavourable way might result in them falling into the relegation zone with a little more than half the season to go. The Citizens on the other hand, have performed well below-par with manager Pep Guardiola even stating that the chances of a third consecutive League title are effectively over. City lie in third place, 14 points off leaders Liverpool having played a game extra. While Guardiola would be right to focus on trying to win other competitions, he will also not want to let go of what seems now to be a rather firm grip on direct qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Villa have lost three of their last six matches, one of which sent them out of the FA Cup (2-1 loss to Fulham). However, they have also collected encouraging victories over Norwich City (1-0) and at Southampton (1-3) and held Leicester to a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. Goals have been hard to come for Smith’s men and they have netted only 27 times in 21 League games, Jack Grealish leading the way with six. The forwards have struggled repeatedly with the likes of Wesley Moraes, Anwar el-Ghazi and Trezeguet having scored only 11 goals between each other. There have been problems in other areas of the pitch as well with central defender Tyrone Mings lacking consistency and summer signing Douglas Luiz failing to perform up to expected standards in midfield.
City on the other hand, have lacked the incisiveness, fluidity and the Midas touch, in all areas of the pitch this season, as compared to the trophy-laden campaigns that preceded this one. Vincent Kompany, who left the club last summer, has been sorely missed at the back and his absence, coupled with a long-term injury to Aymeric Laporte has left City incredibly fragile in defence. Fernandinho has slotted in admirably, but matches against oppositions that press high or play long balls have shown not only that he is not a complete centre-back, but also that City miss his presence in the centre of the park with summer signing Rodri still adjusting to football in England. Sergio Aguero’s injury upfront posed yet another issue and back-up striker Gabriel Jesus does not have the off-the-ball movement or clinical finishing the Argentine has repeatedly displayed in a City shirt. However, his return to fitness should be a huge boost for Guardiola and he will be hoping Aguero makes the difference at Villa.
Cover the Spread 365 Soccer Betting Trends:
– Aston Villa are 5-5 ATS in their last 10 Premier League matches
– Aston Villa are 5-4-1 ATS at home in the Premier League this season
– Aston Villa are 12-9 O/U in the Premier League this season
– Manchester City are 3-6-1 ATS in their last 10 Premier League matches
– Manchester City are 4-4-2 ATS away from home in the Premier League this season
– Manchester City are 12-8-1 O/U in the Premier League this season
FREE EPL Prediction Manchester City vs Aston Villa
Last Time Out
City ran out 3-0 winners at the Etihad Stadium in an unbelievably lopsided contest on Matchday 10. The hosts registered 26 shots on the whole and 10 on target – a remarkable stat when compared to Villa’s 11 shots and just 5 on target. Second-half goals from Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan helped City cruise to a win without ever really shifting gears. Guardiola was however, left fuming when Fernandinho was sent-off for a second yellow card late on, leaving him with just three fit centre-backs for a Carabao Cup clash against Southampton. Villa on the other hand, were spectators for large portions of a game in which they were outplayed and outscored comprehensively.
They will hope that will not be the case come Sunday, but City visit Villa Park in good stead. Since a 3-2 League reverse to Wolves in late December, Guardiola’s men have strung together four wins on the trot in all competitions. They saw off Sheffield United and Everton at home in the League, before comfortably defeating Port Vale at home in the FA Cup and cross-city rivals United at Old Trafford in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.
Jack Grealish will have to be at his very best if Villa are to secure a home victory. The 24-year old has been involved in eleven goals in 19 League games this term, scoring six times and setting up five goals. Grealish has scored twice in his last four matches in the League and will hope to add to his tally against City. He will also be required to control the midfield when he is not making forays forward because the defending champions will try to press Villa when they lose the ball. The Englishman will have his work cut out, but he has both the ability and the calmness to calm down the proceedings and help Villa take a huge stride towards moving clear of the relegation zone.
Frederic Guilbert will be the other vital player for Villa. City’s attack is arguably one of the best in the League, with their biggest advantage being the availability of options. If not through the centre, Guardiola’s system allows the likes of Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy in the full-back positions to move forward quite well and either cut inside to create space for the likes of Sterling and Riyad Mahrez or cut the ball back for players in the box. If Villa do force City wide, Guilbert at right-back will have his work cut out. However, the 25-year old has shown that he is capable of dealing with high intensity moves along the wings and will have to put in an exceptional shift to keep City out.
It is no surprise that Kevin de Bruyne features here. The midfield maestro has time and again been Guardiola’s go-to man and has already registered seven goals this season and tops the assists chart with twelve assists. de Bruyne has not scored or assisted a goal since the 2-0 home win over Sheffield, but has still been vital to City’s recent run of victories. Almost every chance City creates has the Belgian in the thick of it all and he would like to get on the scoresheet for sure this weekend.
Spanish midfielder Rodrigo will also have an important role against Villa. Dean Smith’s side have a decent amount of pace in the ranks, that will pose a threat to City’s struggling defence which tends to leave too much space to exploit. The 23-year old has not fully adapted to English football as yet, but the process has been a positive one so far. He will be required to cut the passing lines, show composure in possession and distribute the ball around wisely if City are to stay solid at the back as well as create chances upfront. In addition, he also has scored a couple of searing long-range strikes this season and if he can pull one of those out of the bag, it will be a welcome gift for the defending champions.
Villa will be without Wesley, John McGinn, Jed Steer, Tom Heaton, Matt Targett and Keinan Davis for the clash as they have all been side-lined by injury. Jonathan Kodija, who missed the Cup semi-final against Leicester due to illness might also not feature.
Predicted Line-up: Nyland; Hause, Mings, Konsa; Taylor, Bakamba, Luiz, Guilbert; Grealish, el-Ghazi, Trezeguet.
City are likely to be without Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane who have returned to first-team training, but continue to recuperate from long-term injuries. However, goalkeeper Ederson will be back after serving the suspension for his red card against Wolves and is likely to replace Claudio Bravo in goal.
Predicted Line-up: Ederson; Mendy, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Walker; Bernardo, Rodri, de Bruyne; Sterling, Aguero, Mahrez.