How Manchester City Will Line Up Against Aston Villa
Two Etihad Stadium matches now lie between them and a second league title in three years, with the first of those coming with the visit of Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Paul Lambert's side secured their Premier League status for next season with Saturday's win over Hull at Villa Park and so there will be no pressure on his young team when they head to Manchester. Such circumstances can often lead to better performances.
So how will City play it?
Here is the XI that Pellegrini could pick:
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
A no-brainer here, with Joe Hart once again showcasing his importance to his club with fine saves from both Steven Naismith and Gerard Deulofeu in the 3-2 win at Goodison Park.
The England goalkeeper will be eager to make up for conceding three goals to Villa in a 3-2 loss at Villa Park earlier in the season, one of the results which, if they don't win the league, City will look back on and rue.
Defence: Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, Aleksandar Kolarov
Just the one change here from the Everton win, with Pellegrini often preferring the extra attacking capabilities of Aleksandar Kolarov in home matches, something which ensures that Gael Clichy is dropped from the left-back slot.
The rest of the defence pretty much picks itself, with Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis all knowing that a clean sheet would take their side a long way toward title glory.
Midfield: Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Samir Nasri
Javi Garcia and James Milner were both needed at Goodison Park and both did their jobs well but at home City will be expected to get on the front foot and hurt Aston Villa. Therefore two of the brightest stars of their season could well be needed.
Fernandinho and David Silva both emerged from the substitutes' bench at Goodison Park, but it would be no surprise to see both involved from the beginning here as the hosts go on the attack.
They could join Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri in a flexible midfield which promises both chances and goals.
Forwards: Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko
Sergio Aguero limped off in the act of scoring his goal against Everton at the weekend, but the key forward has assured fans that he is okay to take his place in the team on Wednesday, per the Daily Telegraph.
In other circumstances Pellegrini might well think about resting him, but this really is all or nothing for City now and so the Chilean will be relying on his main man.
He could start upfront alongside Edin Dzeko, who again demonstrated his knack of scoring important goals with his two strikes at Goodison, and he'll be a key player again here.
Ready in Reserve
It is no coincidence that the likes of James Milner, Javi Garcia and Gael Clichy seem to make the most of their City appearances away from home, as at the Etihad Stadium the hosts are expected to attack more, with Pellegrini often turning to more recognised forward-thinking talents to do so.
The trio will likely take their places on the bench again here, with Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic also likely to join them as Pellegrini's attacking reinforcements.
How They'll Line Up
The restoration of Silva to the starting lineup could see him shifted to the left, with Nasri on the right, although the pair are both intelligent enough to constantly switch positions.
With Dzeko as the figurehead upfront, Aguero will be allowed the freedom to roam and look to cause as much damage as possible during what is unlikely to be a full 90 minutes on the pitch.
Behind him, Fernandinho will hold in front of a familiar back four, with Toure looking to get forward and cause some damage to a Villa side who can expect to face a City team in full flow.
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