Manchester City vs Aston Villa: Premier League Preview & Potential Line-ups
Manchester City's pursuit of a historic third Premier League title in a row continues on Sunday at home to mid-table Aston Villa.
After failing to capitalize on Arsenal's slip-up at Everton last weekend thanks to an underwhelming 1-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City have another presentable opportunity to close the gap.
Brentford held the Premier League pacesetters to a dramatic 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon, handing Pep Guardiola's side another chance to reduce a six-point deficit.
Victory would be a fitting way for Guardiola to celebrate his 250th Premier League match in charge of the Citizens. Plus, it'd also help them avenge a frustrating 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at Villa Park.
Recent history firmly backs Man City for success, as they've won their last 12 home encounters against Aston Villa on home turf, including a title-winning, come-from-behind 3-2 triumph on last season's final day.
Nine months since that defeat, the Lions travel to the Etihad Stadium in a different mood despite falling to a woeful 4-2 home loss to bottom-half strugglers Leicester City last time out.
That result halted Villa's near-perfect four-game league start to the new calendar year (W3, D1), throwing their hopes of a late European push into further doubt.
Man City must lift above off-field turmoil involving the recent charges brought forward by the Premier League if they're to bounce back from last weekend's uneventful display at Tottenham.
Despite having the league's top-goalscorer Erling Haaland (25) leading the line, Guardiola's men have netted just once in their last two top-flight outings, suggesting the Spaniard's well-oiled machine could be running out of steam.
That said, the reigning Premier League champions head into this matchday as the only side in England's elite competitive to have hit a 50-goal landmark after the opening 21 rounds (53).
After holding Man City to a draw in September, Villa could go unbeaten in both seasonal league matches against the Citizens for the first time since the 2000/01 season.
Though the odds play down those hopes, manager Unai Emery boasts a flawless away league record at the helm of the Lions, having won all three top-flight games outside Villa Park since taking charge in November.
Moreover, the Spaniard has turned Villa into a formidable attacking force during his early managerial career in Birmingham, with the visitors getting on the scoresheet in all eight league fixtures under his stewardship.
Manchester City vs Aston Villa Potential Line-ups
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Rico Lewis, Manuel Akanji, Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake; Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne; Riyad Mahrez, Erling Haaland, Jack Grealish.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Alex Moreno; Boubacar Kamara, Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey; Emiliano Buendia, Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey.