Fresh off their third-round matches in the 2013-14 Capital One Cup, Manchester City and Aston Villa are set to tango at Villa Park on Saturday in what will be the sixth match of the Barclays Premier League season for both clubs.
Although City and Villa are currently at opposite ends of the EPL table, things can change quickly when three points are on the line.
The Citizens have responded well to a scoreless draw with Stoke City earlier this month. In three matches since, Manuel Pellegrini's side have outscored each opponent by at least three goals. City crushed Wigan Athletic (5-0) on Tuesday at the Capital One Cup and currently have 10 points in the table.
Villa got off to a great start to the 2013-14 EPL campaign. A 3-1 demolition of Arsenal gave hope to faithful fans, but Paul Lambert's men have just one win and three losses to their credit since. To make matters worse, Tottenham coasted to a comfortable 4-0 victory on Tuesday to eliminate Villa from League Cup contention.
As City prepares to descend on Villa Park, here's a match preview to prepare you for all the action.
When: Saturday, Sept. 28, at 10 a.m. ET (3 p.m. BST)
Where: Villa Park; Witton, Birmingham, England
Watch/Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Odds (via Bloomberg Sports): Aston Villa (19.0 percent), Manchester City (58.1 percent), Draw (22.9 percent)
Top Storyline: Aston Villa Striker Christian Benteke Hit by Injury Bug
Even with top goalscorer Christian Benteke fully healthy, Aston Villa would have a hard time keeping pace with Manchester City for a full 90 minutes.
Unfortunately, he isn't even in contention for playing time.
As seen in this tweet from the Associated Press Sports account, Benteke is slated to miss four to six weeks with a hip injury, a setback that affects both Villa and his native Belgium:
Benteke has four of Aston Villa's six league goals this season. Antonio Luna and Libor Kozak have the others. Needless to say, scoring chances are going to be few and far between if other key contributors don't step up in a big way.
Prediction: Manchester City 3, Aston Villa 0
Home isn't really home for Aston Villa—Lambert's side hasn't kept a clean sheet at Villa Park in their past 13 home matches, according to this report from Yahoo! Sports. Additionally, the Villains have yet to record a point this season in a home match.
Don't expect a reversal of that trend on Saturday.
The Citizens come into this match on a scorching tear. They have scored 12 goals in their past three matches, won six of the past seven EPL meetings with Villa and are doing it all with David Villa, who is expected to return to the lineup in the next week or so.
Simply put, City is rolling.
Factoring in Villa's poor home record and the absence of Benteke into the situation, all signs point to another comfortable victory for Pellegrini if City stay as motivated as they have been since the draw with Stoke City.
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