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Aston Villa v Manchester City – The Opposition

A Look Ahead at the Blues Midweek Opponents

Aston Villa v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Manchester City travel to Villa Park in search of a further three points to boost their title chances and keep the pressure on leaders Chelsea.

The blues beat West Ham on Sunday afternoon to move one point behind the Londoners ahead of their home match with United, which they drew 1-1. Victory for City will take them above their rivals, should Chelsea fail to win during their visit to Watford.

They face a Villa side that recently sacked manager Dean Smith and replaced him with former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard, who left Rangers to take over at Villa Park.

Form

Prior to Gerrard’s arrival, Villa were in a slump, and a 1-0 defeat at Southampton spelled the end of Smith’s managerial reign. It was their fifth straight league defeat, meaning Villa hadn’t won in the league since a 1-0 at Old Trafford at the end of September.

But Gerrard’s presence in the Villa dugout has seen the team win their last two matches, 2-0 at home to Brighton and 2-1 at Crystal Palace. City, however, will be a much tougher opponent for the former Rangers boss, who are fighting leaders Chelsea for the top spot.

Those two wins have taken Villa from the edge of the relegation zone to 15th in the league, and a third straight win for Gerrard’s men would potential see them in the top half of the table.

Danger men

On the face of it, Cameron Archer looks to have taken on the goal scoring responsibilities for Villa this season, having scored four goals in five matches. However, three of those came in a League Cup tie at Barrow in September, with his only other goal coming against Chelsea in the same competition.

In the Premier League, Danny Ings is Villa’s top scorer with three goals from ten games. He has attempted nine shots and has a goal conversion rate of 33%. John McGinn and Ollie Watkins also have three each so far. Frédéric Guilbert has the best stats in the Villa attack, with one goal from one shot in one game, which means his goal conversion rate is 100%. However, it is unlikely he will feature against the blues, so we can breathe a little there!

Following the departure of Jack Grealish, Anwar El Ghazi has taken on the responsibility for assists. The Dutch winger has three so far this season from ten matches and has created five chances. The winger has attempted 142 passes, with 108 completed, giving him a pass accuracy of 76%.

Ashley Young and Douglas Luiz could be considered to be bigger threats. Both have played nine matches each and have two assists to their names. The former has created four chances, but former City man Luiz has made eleven. Luiz has attempted more passes (289) than Young (207), yet both have a pass accuracy of 82%.

Once again, Frédéric Guilbert tops the charts. From one match, he also has one assist, attempted thirty-nine passes, and completed thirty-four, giving him a pass accuracy of 90%. However, it does need noting that Guilbert’s only match was a 6-0 League Cup win at Barrow in September!

Who’s the boss?

Steven Gerrard is Villa’s new boss and has a 100% win rate so far. Villa is the former Liverpool man’s second managerial role after spending three years at Rangers. He presided over 193 Gers matches, winning 125 and losing just twenty-six, giving him a win rate of 65%.

Last time out

City recovered from the shock of falling behind after twenty seconds at Villa Park last April. John McGinn scored to stun the blues, but Phil Foden levelled on 22 minutes before Rodri put the blues in front five minutes before have time.

John Stones was sent off four minutes later, but Villa restored parity to the line ups by having Matty Cash dismissed on 57 minutes.