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Premier League | Gameweek 31
Apr 3, 2024 at 8.15pm UK
Etihad Stadium

Man City
4 - 1
Aston Villa

Rodri (11'), Foden (45+1', 62', 69')
Grealish (32')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Duran (20')
Luiz (38'), Chambers (90+4')

Preview: Manchester City vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Manchester City vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Premier League clash between Manchester City and Aston Villa, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Third hosts fourth in Wednesday's Premier League showdown at the Etihad Stadium, as Manchester City pit their wits against Aston Villa.

The reigning champions settled for a point in a goalless draw with title rivals Arsenal at the weekend, while Unai Emery's charges were convincing 2-0 winners over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Match preview

Not since a dull Champions League affair with Sporting Lisbon in the 2021-22 season had Man City drawn a blank in front of goal at home, and the Citizens faithful had to go even further back to October 2021 for the last time that their side were shut out at the Etihad in a Premier League fixture.

However, thanks to the first-rate work of a William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes-inspired Arsenal, the treble winners endured 90 minutes of frustration on Easter Sunday, failing to score for the first time in 57 home matches across all tournaments in a nail-biting stalemate with Mikel Arteta's troops.

As was the case in October's equally cagey affair at the Emirates, only three shots on target were fired in the entirety of the tense tactical battle - only one of which came Man City's way - and as a result, Pep Guardiola's troops still reside in the bronze medal position in the Premier League standings.

One point separates the holders from second-placed Arsenal, who also return to action on Wednesday night - squaring up to Luton Town - but Liverpool have now strode three clear of the Citizens, who need a five-goal swing in their favour on Wednesday to usurp the Reds for at least 24 hours.

Despite losing their red-hot streak in front of the Etihad nets, Sunday's stalemate with the Gunners was Man City's 23rd game without a loss across all competitions since December, although there are no prizes on offer for guessing who Guardiola's men were last condemned to defeat against.

Fresh from his first call-up to the France squad in 12 months, the rejuvenated Moussa Diaby was the catalyst behind Aston Villa's two-goal beating of West Midlands rivals Wolves on Saturday, opening the scoring in the first half of the Villa Park battle with a thumping left-footed strike.

The former Bayer Leverkusen winger then turned provider for Ezri Konsa, whose mishit cross ended up deceiving Jose Sa and bouncing over the line at the back post to rubber-stamp a routine two-goal success for Emery's men, who therefore remain in control of their top-four fate.

Taking just one point from two games with West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur opened the door for the latter to upset the Champions League apple cart, but the Lions still boast a three-point advantage over the Lilywhites, who do have a game in hand but possess a slightly inferior goal difference.

Of course, fifth may still suffice for Europe's top table depending on the coefficient rankings, but amid UEFA uncertainties, Villa's sole focus is extending their stellar unbeaten away run in 2024; Emery's men have avoided defeat in each of their first eight road games of the calendar year since Boxing Day's agonising defeat to Manchester United.

Five of those eight fixtures have also seen Aston Villa keep a clean sheet, a feat they also managed in December's memorable 1-0 home beating of Man City, but repeating that trick will be an extremely tall order; the Lions have suffered 13 straight Premier League losses away to the reigning champions.

There is one rather large sliver of hope for Emery's men to cling onto, though, as Man City have not won any of their six Premier League fixtures against teams in the top five of the table in 2023-24, taking just four points from 18 on offer.

Manchester City Premier League form:

Manchester City form (all competitions):

Aston Villa Premier League form:

Aston Villa form (all competitions):

Team News

Defensive concerns continue to rear their ugly heads for Man City at a pivotal point in the season, as Nathan Ake had to be taken off in the first half of Sunday's draw with Arsenal with an unspecified concern, while neither Ederson nor Kyle Walker recovered from their thigh injuries in time either.

Guardiola conceded that Ederson was "not even close" to being ready for the Gunners game, where John Stones was surprisingly named on the bench despite being ruled out by Guardiola, but the England international did not earn any minutes and is not thought to be back to 100% just yet.

As a result, Rico Lewis should replace the stricken Ake for Wednesday's contest, while Jeremy Doku and former Villain Jack Grealish might also come into Guardiola's thinking out wide given the tight turnaround.

While Man City work around their rearguard woes, Aston Villa have been dealt a worrying attacking concern ahead of the trip to the champions, as Ollie Watkins succumbed to a hamstring injury in the win over Wolves and had to be replaced by Jhon Duran.

Emery has now confirmed the crushing news that Watkins is unavailable this week, as he joins Tyrone Mings (knee), Boubacar Kamara (knee), Emiliano Buendia (knee) and Matty Cash (thigh) in the infirmary, while John McGinn is still suspended.

Ankle victim Jacob Ramsey is not quite ready to make his comeback either, while Duran is primed to partner Diaby in Watkins's absence after a bright second-half showing in the West Midlands derby.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ortega; Lewis, Dias, Akanji, Gvardiol; Rodri, Kovacic; Doku, De Bruyne, Grealish; Haaland

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne; Bailey, Luiz, Tielemans, Rogers; Diaby, Duran

We say: Manchester City 2-0 Aston Villa

With Emery's former employers Arsenal frustrating Man City to excellent effect with their defensive stance, it will be interesting to see whether the Villa boss opts for such a conservative setup or persists with his risky high line, which Guardiola's men can certainly exploit.

The Lions have proven highly resilient on the road either way, but with Watkins emerging as a serious doubt and their hosts able to switch up their attacking resources, we can only envisage Man City making it 14 home wins on the bounce against the visitors to get their title defence back on track.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Premier League Table
1Manchester CityMan City32227376324473
4Aston Villa33196868491963
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs32186865491660
6Newcastle UnitedNewcastle321551269521750
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd32155124748-150
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham33139115258-648
10Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton321111105250244
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves32127134651-543
14Crystal Palace3289153754-1733
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3379174258-1626
18Luton TownLuton3367204670-2425
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3237223084-5416
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