Aston Villa will hope to maintain their momentum from reaching the FA Cup final by beating Manchester City away from home for the first time in the league since April 2007.
A routine win over a lacklustre West Ham United did little to reassure the champions’ recent critics, with Yaya Toure – so destructive in this fixture last season – the subject of many rumours linking him with a move away. This match does at least provide them with the chance to move back into second place.
Sergio Aguero seems to have got his form back, with three goals in his last two outings, while Jesus Navas has established himself as a regular in the starting XI ahead of Samir Nasri. Here, the Spaniard comes up against Kieran Richardson, who is in his best form for some time on the Villa left.
Since replacing Paul Lambert, visiting boss Tim Sherwood has introduced a more attacking style of football and the team has become more direct, but the biggest difference is that it is now fearless, with excellent – and thoroughly deserved – successes over Tottenham and Liverpool making Villa look a totally rejuvenated side.
There is still of course work to do to secure Premier League safety, but they will not be at all fazed by a trip to the Etihad Stadium as have been in recent seasons. Another performance full of intensity and dynamic passing football will certainly cause Man City problems, with the in-form Fabian Delph providing the focal point in midfield.
David Silva should be fit enough to play despite a facial injury forcing him off against West Ham, but James Milner, Gael Clichy and Vincent Kompany are set to miss out.
Gabriel Agbonlahor will be hopeful of returning for Villa, but defenders Nathan Baker and Ciaran Clark will be sidelined.
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