Manchester City v Aston Villa
Live on Sky Sports 1
Manuel Pellegrini’s side got back to winning ways last weekend having previously lost twice on the spin. City beat West Ham 2-0 thanks to a hilarious James Collins own goal and far more significantly, a strike from Sergio Aguero.
Aguero was the Premier League’s best player earlier on this season but injury curtailed his run of form and with it, City’s title bid. The goal was Aguero’s third in two games, after a spell of six games without finding the net. If City can get Aguero back to his best they will easily secure the top four spot that is the club’s absolute minimum requirement.
City’s form has been poor of late but their disappointing Premier League results have tended to come away from home. They have only lost twice at the Etihad this season.
Pellegrini’s options could be boosted by the returns of Wilfried Bony and James Milner, while the facial injury picked up by David Silva against West Ham is not as bad as first feared. City are far from full strength though, with Gael Clichy, Sami Nasri, Stevan Jovetic and Vincent Kompany still on the sidelines.
Tim Sherwood and his team are on a high having beaten Liverpool to reach the FA Cup final but only time will tell as to whether it will help their battle against relegation. An impending trip to Wembley has often derailed a season.
That said, Villa are now four points clear of the drop zone thanks to impressive away wins at Sunderland and Spurs. They can approach this game with a measure of relaxation, knowing that far more winnable home games against mid-table fodder such as Everton and West Ham are to come.
While City try to coax Aguero back to top form, Villa have their own sharp shooter already firing on all cylinders. Christian Benteke has nine goals from his last eight games and with teenager Jack Grealish pulling the strings in midfield, this Villa side offer an attacking threat at odds with the team under Paul Lambert, when they couldn’t buy a goal.
Sherwood might be able to call upon Gabby Agbonlahor and Alan Hutton for the match, as they face late fitness tests.
Manchester City may have largely preserved their reputation as a formidable side at home but the [1.29] on offer for them to win is far too short. They have suffered too many shock results of late and this improving Villa team cannot be written off.
The half-time/full-time markets offer juicier odds. City are [1.82] to win half-time/full-time, with the draw/City a good price at [4.8].
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
This looks like a game where there are certain to be goals, with both sides having an attacking nature allied to an error-prone defence. The market reflects this with over 2.5 goals at [1.56].
Over 3.5 goals looks a better bet at [2.38] but not as good as both teams to score at [2.02]. Villa have only failed to score on two occasions from the 11 games under Sherwood. This includes goals in recent matches against top seven sides such as Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool.
Back the draw half-time/Manchester City full-time at [4.8]
Back both teams to score at [2.02]