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Sky Blue News: Villa v City, Transfer Window Roundup, Pep Speaks, and More...

Matchday headlines to get you ready for Villa.

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Manchester City Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

Matchday!! Catch up on all the latest headlines here with Sky Blue News!!!

Aston Villa v Manchester City - The Opposition - Manc Pete - Bitter and Blue

Pete gives us a peak at the state of things for Steven Gerrard’s side.

The Midlands side lost 2-0 to new boys Bournemouth on the opening day of the season, before beating Everton 2-1 at Villa Park. They then lost three successive Premier League games, starting at Crystal Palace (1-3), home to West Ham (0-1) and at Arsenal (2-1). Only a 4-1 win at Bolton in the League Cup prevented that run becoming four matches. Even then, they went a goal down before recovering to win comfortably.

Villa have had a myriad of issues, from Gerrard issuing huge fines to the players for even minor offences and not only deposing Tyrone Mings as captain, but seemingly at odds with his former skipper. Villa also have a huge problem scoring goals. From five games, they have scored four, but they seem to concede almost immediately after scoring.

Against Everton, Villa went 2-0 up in the 86th minute, but the Toffees pulled a goal back just 60 seconds later. A fifth-minute opener at Palace was cancelled out after just two minutes and a 74th-minute equaliser at Arsenal could have secured a point. However, just three minutes later, Arsenal scored again. By that record, if City concede to Villa on Saturday, they only have to wait four minutes to grab a goal themselves!

Man City manager Pep Guardiola wishes Aston Villa had more points - Simon Bajkowski - Manchester Evening News

Simon notes that the Villans gave City all they could handle last campaign, but the form has not yet been there this term.

However, the midlands club have endured a difficult start to the season and sit 19th in the table after just one win from their opening five games. They equalised at Arsenal in midweek only to concede instantly to lose for the fourth time already this season.

City, in contrast, are undefeated and Erling Haaland’s second hat-trick in as many games has reinforced their credentials as the team to beat this season. But while they head to Villa Park on a high, Guardiola would rather they were making the journey to play a team in better form.

“They are more dangerous right now, I’d prefer them to be in a better position,’ Guardiola said. ‘Tomorrow is more difficult for the fact that they have only won one game.

‘But their quality is there. They added Leander Dendoncker, and Jan Bednarek, two experienced players. I can imagine how tough it will be. I felt it immediately when we finished the game against Nottingham Forest.”


Injury updates ahead of the match from John Edwards at the mothership.

Aymeric Laporte is the other notable absentee.

The Frenchman has not played this season as he continues to recover from the knee surgery he had during the summer.

Guardiola says he could be ready to resume training after this month’s international break, but does not expect him to be available for selection until the end of September.

“I think he will be ready [to train] after the international break,” he added.

“We will not force it. A knee injury is a tough injury. I cannot forget being in that position and playing against West Ham away and the final game against Aston Villa when we did not have an alternative because Ruben was injured and Nathan was injured.

“This is one of the reasons we decided to go for Manu Akanji.

Aston Villa vs Manchester City: 4 Questions with Phil Vogel of 7500 to Holte - CITYZENDuck - Bitter and Blue

I caught up with Phil Vogel to ask some important questions about today’s opposition.

CD: AFC Bournemouth have already let go of manager Scott Parker. Currently, only Leicester’s Brendan Rogers has better odds of being the next PL manager to be sacked than Gerrard. Can Gerrard save his job and do you think a new manager would be able to get the club going in the right direction?

PV: Bournemouth for the win!!!! Did I mention they beat Villa on opening day and I’m sad about it.

Gerrard needs to figure some things out if he wants to stay in claret and blue. He needs to decide his best 11, best formation, tactics, subs strategy, plan B when that plan A doesn’t work. He needs to stop picking fights with the former captain (Mings). Get the current captain (McGinn) playing at a decent level. Convince the defence to stop celebrating goals so much that we give it right back. Seriously. Everton scored 1 minute after a goal, Crystal Palace 2 mins after a Villa goal, and it took Arsenal … 3 minutes after a Villa goal! That is made even more impressive given the fact that Villa have only scored 4 goals in the League so far.

Can he fix it? Yes. Will he? Based on what I’ve seen, no. But I expect the board to give him more time, possibly until the World Cup break. Unless the board gets someone like Mauricio Pochettino to agree to take over. A new manager could get it going or could be a total disaster. I like the idea of patience with Gerrard but I’m not really enjoying actually being patient with him.

Match Preview: Aston Villa vs Manchester City (Premier League) - Declan Harris - City Xtra

Declan has us strolling down memory lane to a certain day back in June. Ah, memories.

Aston Villa play host to the Cityzens following their tense battle with Arsenal, which saw them lose out in the 77th minute after Gabriel Martinelli sent the ball into the back of the net.

It has been a difficult start for the Villains, who have lost four of their opening five league matches.

Villa find themselves situated in 19th place, with only Leicester City having had a worse start to the campaign.

The last time the two sides met was back in May, when Manchester City trailed Steven Gerrard’s side 2-0.

A goal from Rodri and two from super-sub Ilkay Gundogan secured a dramatic late 3-2 victory, as the Sky Blues lifted the Premier League trophy for the fourth time in five years.

Every summer transfer – Manchester City 2022/2023 - Nabeel - City Report

City Report give us a look at all the comings and goings, including the pair of strikers who now call the Etihad home.

Julian Alvarez: Signed from River Plate in January for a reported £14 million, the dynamic Argentine striker linked up with his new teammates in Manchester this summer after the powers that be at the Etihad Stadium agreed to pay a further £1.3 million to curtail his loan spell in South America. The 22-year-old signed a five-and-a-half-year deal at the start of the year.

Erling Haaland: The club’s marquee signing and already the signing of the season so far with his staggering goal return. The 22-year-old was signed from Borussia Dortmund after his £51 million release clause was paid, and the Norwegian has signed a five-year deal, taking him to the summer of 2027.

Manchester City Full Summer Window Transfer Grades & Summary - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Saul grades out the summer business done by City. High marks.

The club shipped out a number of players, many of them academy and some of course mainstays, like Raheem Sterling, Oleks Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus. In the end, City claimed net spend superiority over many and really most of the clubs in the Premier League.

Could Manchester City have used another midfielder, a fullback and maybe even another winger? Sure, but the window was still wildly successful. That’s how it goes sometimes. Transfers are much more difficult to pull off.

Overall, I’d give the window a really good and much better 8.5/10. It was a fantastic window, just short of being excellent, but definitely praiseworthy. All numbers from TM.

Neymar ‘offered to Man City’ as PSG attempt in vain to settle Kylian Mbappe feud - Colin Millar - The Mirror

“Lacks discipline and is damaging to the club”, yeah... how about no thank you?

Those reports may now be linked to the last claim, coming from Marca, that PSG attempted to offload Neymar this summer to City. The French club were aware that no other club would be able to afford the Brazilian’s wage packet.

However, it is perhaps unsurprising that City had little interest in taking on the service of the superstar forward. Pep Guardiola’s team had already invested heavily in their front-line this summer with the signings of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez from Borussia Dortmund and River Plate respectively.

There is reportedly an element of rivalry between Mbappe and Messi at the Parc des Princes relating to the status of Neymar while multiple reports last season outlined the depth of the dressing room split in Paris – with Mbappe believing Messi’s friend lacks discipline and is damaging to the club.

“One month ago Haaland was a disaster, now...” - Pep Guardiola pre-Aston Villa Press Conference - Colin Cranmer - City Report

Pep is not impressed with those who were quick to call out Erling as a bust after the Community Shield loss to Liverpool.

Managing Erling Haaland:

“I admire the people who can anticipate what happens in the future (sarcastic), I cannot do it. One month ago he was a disaster, now he’s going to break [records] everything. I can’t see what happens, I don’t know what happens tomorrow. Imagine what happens in two years...”

“We are delighted for how he settles. Not just Erling [Haaland] - the staff and backroom staff is so important how they help to adapt the new players and the mates are really good. This is the most important thing.”

Pep Talk: “Now, he’s going to break everything...” - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Saul breaks down the pre-Villa presser, and the bass gives us the lowdown on the Akanji transfer.

We are already back as the pre-match presser has taken place, we see Manchester City’s manager has spoken on the new signing, Haaland’s impact, injuries and much more!

Let’s dive in:

Pep on Akanji

“We had incredible four centre-backs, at the same time, Aymeric [Laporte] had a tough injury, he’s getting better but still one month or a half, Nathan [Ake] had some concerns with muscle problems. We couldn’t live with just two centre-backs with this schedule...”

“We had an opportunity to bring a player [Manuel Akanji] with one year left on his contract, incredible experienced. Perfect for what we need, fact, good in the build-up. We felt it against Dortmund. Pleased he’s here...”

Liverpool to have major midfield shake-up with Arthur Melo just a stop-gap, says Jamie Carragher - Sky Sports

And finally... Never mind the headline. Carragher has many thoughts, and one is that Haaland might end up being the best Premier League player ever.

Asked to name which club had the best window and his signing of the summer, Carragher told Sky Sports News: “Manchester City have had a really good window. They lost a lot of attacking players, but bringing in the likes of (Julian) Alvarez, who already looks like real quality, and Haaland just looks amazing.

“I’m doing City’s game on Saturday at Aston Villa [live on Sky Sports] and I’m excited to watch him in the flesh, commentate on him for the first time and really get a good look at him off the ball as well.

“We know we’ve got a great player in the league, but I think we’ve got something really special that when he’s finished his time at Manchester City or the Premier League, we’ll be talking about him alongside Thierry Henry.

“This lad could end up being the best player we see in the Premier League. He’s made a brilliant start, so I’m really excited to see him at the weekend.”

That’s it for now. Be sure to follow along on Twitter with @BitterandBlue1 for all the action from Villa Park. Come on City!!!