Aston Villa vs Man CityEnglish Premier League, KO: 16:30 Jan 12, 2020, Villa Park
MANCHESTER City appear to have rediscovered their mojo and the reigning champions will be looking to continue their momentum against injury-ravaged Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.
Pep Guardiola's star-studded side looked like their old selves in midweek when dishing out a first half mauling to fierce rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford in the first-leg of their Carabao cup semi-final.
Indeed, the Citizens title defence may be widely seen as over, however, City have won their last four matches across all competitions – scoring 11 goals in the process- and they will be targeting a fifth victory on the spin at Villa Park.
Aston Villa are hovering precariously above the Premier League relegation zone and they may well enter this encounter occupying a place the bottom-three depending on the outcome of Bournemouth's battle with Watford in the early afternoon kick-off on Sunday afternoon.
Villa performed well for 45 minutes in the reverse fixture at the Etihad back in October before ultimately falling to a 3-0 defeat (above) and given the Villans heavy injury list it will take a herculean effort to topple Man City in the Midlands this weekend.
However, Dean Smith's depleted side showed their mettle when drawing 1-1 away at Leicester in the league cup on Wednesday night – a result which increased the chances of this clash potentially being a Carabao Cup final dress rehearsal.
The Betting Odds
Pep's champs have only won two of their last five top-fight road trips, however, a City victory at Villa Park is odds-on at 1/6 (Unibet)
Aston Villa are winless against top-half teams this season and that is reflected in the soaring 16/1 (Betfred) that is available for a home win on Sunday and an all-square affair is also deemed improbable at odds-against of 8/1 (Betfred) with the same firm
The Betting Angles
Last time out Aston Villa frustrated Leicester with their defensive tightness and I expect Smith to take a similar approach on Sunday against an in-form and superior Man City side.
Should the hosts set up with a back three/five then I'm going to delve into the player passes market and back City's makeshift centre-half Fernandinho to complete over 76.5 passes which is priced at 5/6 (Bet 365)
City's brilliant Brazilian is averaging 76.24 passes per game in the Premier League this season – the 12th highest in the division – and I suspect City's back four will see plenty of possession on Sunday against a Villa outfit who will try and replicate their resolute display against the Foxes.
However, City's well-documented defensive deficiencies have been their undoing this season – Guardiola's team have only registered two clean sheets in their last 18 attempts – and I fancy Aston Villa to notch against City's leaky backline at 37/50 (Marathonbet)
Granted, Vila will be on the back foot for long spells in this tussle, however, Smith's team have hit the back of the net in their last nine outings on home turf and they will be coming up against a City rearguard that has conceded against Oxford and Port Vale in recent weeks, all of which adds to the appeal of backing the hosts to make the net bulge this weekend.
Whether or not Aston Villa score remains to be seen, and if so I suspect that it will amount to no more than a consolation strike given that City have scored two or more goals in 10 of their last 11 league games away from home.
What's more, Villa have only managed two shutouts in their last 16 Premier League games and that does not bode well ahead of a bout with the Blue Moon who have racked up 56 league goals this term – 38 of which have been banged in against bottom-half sides.
There is no value in backing an away at 1/6 (Unibet) and therefore I'm going to utilize Bet 365's Bet Builder feature by combining Man City to score over 1.5 goals, over 4.5 Man City corners and over zero cards for each team which pays 5/6 (Bet 365) – a bet that that would have landed the last time these two sides locked horns.
This English Premier League match between Aston Villa and Man City will be played on Jan 12, 2020 and kick off at 16:30