Man City will look to avenge their Capital One defeat to Aston Villa earlier in the season, when the two sides meet at the Etihad on Saturday.
Mancini’s men are unbeaten in 17 Premier League clashes, a statistic that sees them second in the table, two points behind city rivals Man Utd. Their home record will give Villa even less confidence going into this clash, coming in on the back of 35 games undefeated in the league – one positive Paul Lambert can take is that his side are the only team in all competitions to beat Man City at home in the last 20 matches.
Villa will be able to look back at a competitive performance against Man Utd in their last outing, going 2-0 up, only to lose 3-2. The Villains also had won two and drawn one of their previous three going into that game. However, Premier League form has seen them pick up just two wins from their 11 ties so far, meaning they sit one place ahead of the relegation zone.
Mancini is set to give striker Edin Dzeko a rare start, following the Bosnian’s winner from the bench against Tottenham last weekend – the forward has now scored six goals in three starts and six substitute appearances. This should mean that Kun Aguero drops to the bench. Samir Nasri is set to return to the first team, as will Joleon Lescott who missed last weekend with a back injury.
Villa will stick with 17 year old left-back Enda Stevens, who faced Man Utd last week in the absence of the now available Eric Lichaj. Stephen Ireland will keep his place while Darren Bent, Joe Bennett and Chris Herd remain out.
“I hope that Edin [Dzeko] can also score when he starts the game, because he had a very good season last year, he did everything well, and I hope that he can play well when he starts the game as well.”
“I think at the moment we are missing five or six goals from the strikers, I think that Edin was very important against West Bromwich and Tottenham.”
“We never got the result against Man Utd but we took a lot of positives out of the game. I know it’s a really tough game but I have belief in my team that we will do the best we can to win.
“You have to try to impose yourself. As long as we have the belief! If they keep doing what they are doing, they will win more games than not.”