Manchester City welcome Aston Villa to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, knowing victory for the blues would take them to the top of the Premier League table, but only if United fail to win at Burnley.
The blues have overcome their sluggish start to the season to become the form team of the Premier League, while mid-table Villa look like they won’t be dragged into a relegation battle this season. Villa sit in 11th place, 14 points clear of the relegation zone and have pulled off some remarkable victories this season, notably a 3-0 at Arsenal, 1-0 at Leicester and a small matter of hammering Liverpool 7-2 (stop laughing).
Wednesday’s game is only Villa’s second league match of January, owing to having their last two games against Spurs and Everton postponed due to Covid-19. The only games Villa have played in 2021 was fielding a team of youngsters for their FA Cup 4rd round clash with Liverpool and narrowly suffering a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford on New Years Day.
Villa went into the match in Stretford on the back of a five match unbeaten run, which saw them win at Wolves (1-0) and West Brom (3-0), a home win over Crystal Palace (3-0) and two draws, 0-0 at home to Burnley and 1-1 at Chelsea.
Villa have one of the best away records in the Premier League, winning 5 and drawing 2 of their 8 away games so far. They also have the best defensive away record, conceding just five goals, one less than City. However they face a City side that have won 6 out of 9 home games, scoring 19 and conceding just 7, so Wednesday’s game will be an intriguing one.
Ollie Watkins is Villa’s top scorer, having bagged 8 goals in 18 matches. His goal conversion rate however, is just 20%, having taken 40 shots so far, Jack Grealish and Anwar El Ghazi have 6 each, with the former’s conversion rate at 27%.
Jack Grealish tops the assist chart, supplying 7 villa goals. From 693 attempted passes, Grealish has completed 570, giving him a pass accuracy of 82%. John McGinn has 4 assists from 15 matches, with an accuracy level of 81%.
Who’s The Boss
Villa fan Dean Smith has been in charge at Villa Park since 2018. He guided Villa back to the Premier League vis the play-offs after taking over in October of that year. After a struggle for survival last season, Smith has guided Villa to almost mid-table security.
Played For Both
City and Villa have several stars who have played for both teams. Most recent have been James Milner, Gareth Barry, Darius Vassell, Joleon Lescott, Shay Given and Richard Dunne.
Micah Richards spent four years at Villa Park after leaving City via Fiorentina, and further back, Bobby McDonald arrived at City from Villa, via Coventry City in 1981.