The late Saturday game occurs at Villa Park this time, with Aston Villa aiming to unexpectedly leapfrog their opponents and potentially find themselves in the top four. It would be fair to say that it’s been a relatively solid start for the home side and this makes City’s visit a potential banana skin as they aim to get their title charge on track.
If one takes a look at Villa’s current position and plots it against their fixtures, there’s no doubt that Paul Lambert’s side have started this term in absolutely sterling form. Currently fixed in 6th, this is despite the fact they have played the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool over the course of September. Admittedly, they’ve only amassed three points from these games – and the general consensus is that their form will take a tumble as they play Manchester City and Tottenham over the course of the next couple of weeks. For now, fans will be satisfied though and after a shrewd summer of business, it looks as though Lambert is initiating steady progress and his team will prove to be a strong challenge for the reigning top flight champions.
Manchester City meanwhile have fared a little less successfully than most people anticipated. Following their triumph last year, the general consensus was that they would be able to build on that – particularly after making a handful of big signings during the summer. At the moment, the jury is still out on Manuel Pellegrini’s side, although they did manage to force through a 4-2 victory over Hull in their last top flight outing. That came following draws to Chelsea and Arsenal and a loss to Stoke though, which means that the Citizens are already trailing league leaders Chelsea by five points.
Something that will aid Aston Villa’s chances immensely ahead of this game is the return of Christian Benteke, who is back in Paul Lambert’s squad for the first time in half a year following a serious Achilles problem. However, that’s where the good news stops for Villa, with Ron Vlaar and Libor Kozak both out of this clash through respective calf and leg injuries. Manchester City will also welcome back an important player, with Fernando back in the reckoning for the first time in six games after a groin injury. In other news, Manuel Pellegrini is likely to start Joe Hart after recalling him for their European tie during the week.
Aston Villa have started this season strongly and might hold the home advantage, but we have a feeling that Manchester City will prove to just be a little too strong for them this time around. They dropped points several weeks ago and after resurrecting their form against Hull last week, we think they’ll go from strength-to-strength. Villa will be formidable opponents, but our tip will be a 3-1 victory for the visitors.