Villa secured their second win of the season in an away game at Carrow Road, beating Norwich 1-0. But they took a heavy beating at the hands of Tottenham in the midweek League Cup fixture.
Paul Lambert rotated his squad somewhat for the 4-0 drubbing—most of that due to the injuries of Christian Benteke and Jores Okore, among others.
But there's no doubt that Lambert will have to field his strongest side if Villa are to get a positive result, so with that in mind we take a look at how the hosts will line up against Man City.
This is the easiest selection on the team sheet and not only because Villa's second-choice keeper is the inexperienced 21-year-old Jed Steer. Guzan was, by a mile, Villa's stand-out player against Norwich. The American stopper saved a penalty in the opening five minutes, performed solidly throughout the game and then expertly denied Gary Hooper's accidental effort in the dying minutes.
Lowton fell woefully short of what is expected of a Premier League full-back during Villa's defeat to Newcastle at Villa Park. He was subsequently replaced by Leandro Bacuna—a right-sided utility man who can play at the back, in midfield and down the wing. Bacuna was dependable against Norwich but wasn't troubled too much by Norwich's pacy wingers. Lowton was one of Villa's stars during last year's relegation-threatened season, so expect him to step back into the lineup and prove his worth.
Similar to Guzan, this selection is an easy one for Lambert to make. Villa captain Vlaar was, alongside Lowton, Westwood and Benteke, one of only a few shining lights last season. And despite the Birmingham side shipping far too many goals, he was a rock at the heart of the Villa defence. The Dutchman will be called upon to stifle the advances of City's potent attacking line.
Baker started the season alongside Vlaar but suffered an injury early on in the opening-day game against Arsenal and subsequently missed a number of games. Summer signing Jores Okore stepped up and—after a shaky debut—looked to be settling in amongst his teammates. A season-ending ligament injury has paved the way for Baker to regain his place in the Villa side. The 22-year-old was part of the team that shipped four goals in midweek but should start at the weekend.
The Spanish full-back started for Villa in their first five games this season. Scoring Villa's third goal in his Premier League debut, the defender has gone from strength to strength, learning from his experiences and has performed solidly. The defender missed Villa's midweek fixture after picking up a knock in training but will be fit to start against City.
So far, Delph is Villa's outstanding player of the season and he was Villa's August Player of the Month. So he will be one of the first names on the team sheet. Seemingly unfazed in the heart of Villa's midfield during clashes with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, Delph came to the fore. And despite his relatively wiry frame, he commanded the midfield. The Bradford-born all-action midfielder was another League Cup absentee, but Lambert is hopeful that Delph will be fit enough to feature against City.
Karim El Ahmadi
The Moroccan national put in one of the worst performances of his career in Villa's 2-1 loss to Newcastle. He was substituted early in the second half and would have been happy to see his number on the fourth official's board. It was just a very, very, very bad day at the office. Lambert stuck with his man for the Norwich game, however, and El Ahmadi proved to be worthy of the selection. The midfielder was combative all over the pitch, found his previously lost passing boots and worked tirelessly as Villa held on for the win. That performance will see him start against City.
The Malian is likely to start against the Citizens, providing that Ashley Westwood isn't fit. Westwood is a big doubt for the game and will leave a hole in a part of the pitch where City are strongest. With the likes of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho to cope with, Lambert will more than likely select the physical Sylla in order to counteract City's physical presence.
The young Austrian missed the midweek clash with Spurs after suffering an injury in training after the Norwich game. Weimann has impressed along the wing this season, often switching sides with Gabriel Agbonlahor and linking up well with Benteke. According to Squawka, Weimann has created five clear goalscoring opportunities for his teammates in Villa's five league games so far. Fit and ready, Weimann is sure to start.
Villa's longest-standing player Agbonlahor is sure to start against City. The pacy forward, who has been converted into an effective winger, can cause problems for any defender in the league. His defensive efforts are admired by the Villa boss. Agbonlahor will need to keep them up as Villa will likely be under sustained pressure for prolonged periods against City. Joint-second in the Premier League assists table, Agbonlahor will need to be at the very top of his game if Villa are to avoid defeat.
With Benteke out, Kozak will be the man to start against City. He scored Villa's winner against Norwich and will hope to strike again at the weekend. The Czech striker finished as the top goalscorer in last season's Europa League. So he is obviously comfortable going up against some of Europe's most physical defenders. With the likes of Vincent Kompany to deal with, Kozak will have to draw from his continental experience in order to challenge the City defence.