How Manchester City Will Line Up Against Aston Villa
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The Sky Blues are doubtlessly feeling mighty good about themselves, with good reason.
City have posted three straight convincing victories including a derby demolition of Manchester United and a vital opening win in Champions League play.
As if those highs were not high enough, City will welcome last season's Champions League winners, Bayern Munich, to the Etihad on October 2. Given the dominant form of City as of late, the football world will be watching that match eagerly.
So this coming weekend's match with Aston Villa plainly does not measure up from an excitement standpoint.
Yep, this is definitely a trap game.
In Premier League play this season, Villa have scored six goals. Benteke has four of them.
Indeed, after a shock drubbing of Arsenal at the Emirates to start the season, Villa have lost three of their last four league matches. They did win their last Premier League match away to Norwich.
You doubtlessly, therefore, deduced that Villa are winless at home in league play this season.
Villa are quite likely to study the film of Stoke City's scoreless draw with Manchester City and decide to allow the Sky Blues all the harmless midfield possession they like.
When Villa's defense cracks, American keeper Brad Guzan will be ready. Guzan is one of the league's better shot stoppers:
City manager Manuel Pellegrini has employed predictable lineups in the biggest matches, i.e., the season opener against Newcastle United, the derby and the Champions League win at Viktoria Plzen.
But the Stoke lineup was anything but easily foreseen, with forgotten men like Jack Rodwell and James Milner getting starts.
Pellegrini will be keen to keep City's momentum going, surely, but he also appears more committed to squad rotation than predecessor Roberto Mancini ever was.
Further, there are certain players Pellegrini simply cannot afford to put at risk at Villa Park ahead of the battle with Bayern, no matter how much he would like to win this Premier League match.
How many of my predicted XI will actually start?
Midfield magician David Silva has been all but ruled out of this match with Villa, per Richard Jolly of ESPNFC.com. Almost everyone else is available but a few of the brightest stars on the roster probably will not see action.
Predicted City XI at Aston Villa: Joe Hart; Gael Clichy, Matija Nastasic, Joleon Lescott, Pablo Zabaleta; Samir Nasri, Fernandinho, Javi Garcia, Jesus Navas; Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic.
I just do not see Pellegrini putting Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure or Sergio Aguero in harm's way for this match. If City are to have any chance to stay with Bayern, all three of them need to be fit and well-rested.
Besides, as City proved with their midweek dusting of Wigan Athletic, their rhythm section can do more than most clubs' lead guitarists ever will.
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