This is going to be a fun match. After the week the blues have had, they entertain Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon. The blues were charged with over a hundred breaches of Premier League rules on Monday and, following Pep Guardiola’s press conference, the fans will be more fired up than ever to shout the team to victory.
The City boss went on record to throw his support behind the club and owners, stating that he’s going nowhere and that he’s satisfied that the club will be found innocent of all charges. Now his City side face Villa as they attempt again to make up some ground on leaders Arsenal. Here, we take a look at the Midlands side, their form and key players.
If mid-table was a football club, it would be named Aston Villa. Everything about Villa is mid-table - form, results and actual league position. The side currently sits in 11th place, having won eight and lost nine of their 21 games so far and have a mixed bag of results throughout the season.
Villa have won the last three matches on the road, most recently 1-0 at Southampton. Prior to that, they won 2-0 at Spurs (can everyone score at Spurs except us?) and 2-1 a Brighton. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is an amazing run of away form that could take them up the table - those three wins are their only victories on the road so far. If it wasn’t for those wins, they’d be much closer to the bottom of the table.
The Villans have lost five on their trips away from Villa Park, with some of those quite heavy. They were hammered 4-0 at Newcastle, 3-0 at Chelsea and 3-1 at Palace. Their other two defeats came 2-1 at Arsenal and 2-0 on the opening day of the season at newly promoted Bournemouth. Their two draw on the road have come at Nottingham Forest (1-1) and Leeds United (0-0).
Away from home, Villa concede two goals for each one they score. They have hit eight so far and conceded 16. They have kept three clean sheets on their travels and have failed to score on four occasions.
Who to watch
Danny Ings is Villa’s top scorer with seven goals in all competitions and six in the Premier League. Ings has played 21 matches for Villa and has had 26 shots at goal. Ings averages a goal every 147 minutes and his last goal was a 78th minute equaliser at home to Wolves. The last time he scored away from home was in the 2-1 win over Brighton in November when he scored both.
Ollie Watkins has bagged six from 23 matches and, with 34, has attempted the most shots from anyone in the Villa side. Although his goal conversion rate is less than Ings, (18% to 27%), Watkins has a better shot accuracy with 65%. That’s still not the best overall from Villa’s regular first-teamers; that honour goes to Jacob Ramsey who, after 21 matches, has had ten shots on target, scored two and has a shot accuracy of 80%.
An honourary mention though goes to Morgan Sanson, who has a 100% goal conversion rate and shot accuracy. His goal in the FA Cup against Stevenage was his first shot in the first team which resulted in his only goal.
Assists this season have come from Watkins and former blue Douglas Luiz. Both have four two their name, with Luiz creating the most chances (25). He has also attempted the most passes (1,094), with 955 completed. From 23 matches, that gives him a pass accuracy rating of 87%, the highest in the team.
Ramsey has three assists to his name and has created 15 chances, while Emiliano Buendía has created the second-most chances with 24, although only one of those has been converted. Ings and Leon Bailey have two assists each and Boubacar Kamara may not be a household name, but he has created five chances, one converted and has the second highest pass accuracy in the team with 85%.
Who’s the boss?
Unai Emery is the man at the helm at Villa Park and he’s steadied the ship a little after they slipped down the table under Steven Gerrard. Emery joined Villa at the beginning of November and has taken charge of ten matches, winning five and losing four. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that his win rate is 50%.
City and Villa met in September when Erling Haaland’s tenth goal of the season was cancelled out by a Leon Bailey goal 16 minutes from time.
The last time these two met at the Etihad Stadium was a fairly non-descript affair. Villa took a 2-0 lead on the final day of last season, before City scored three goals in six late minutes in the second half to win the match. Oh, it also won them the Premier League trophy too.
What will be the result on Sunday? How many times will Villa sing ‘Champions of Europe, you’ll never sing that?’ and will that be countered by ‘100 breaches, you’ll never sing that?’ We’ll find out in just over 24 hours time.