Two successive 3-0 defeats have taken some of the shine off the Villans’ solid start to the season. Lambert’s men face another tough test when the reigning Premier League champions visit Villa Park this evening but will be hoping to prove that they are better than the two defeats to Arsenal and Chelsea and avoid losing a third consecutive game.
The champions were frustrated by Roma on Tuesday night and Pellegrini will hope to see his side shake off the shackles and show more tactical nous as the Citizens bid to bridge the gap the Blues are creating at the top of the table.
Having won this fixture last season with only 33% possession and having scored fewer goals than any other team in the Premier League except newly-promoted Burnley, the Villans will be boosted by Benteke’s likely return. After a six-month absence due to a ruptured Achilles, the Belgian striker played just over an hour for the U21s on Monday against Bolton and scored from the spot. Without expecting too much, his return could prove timely as the Villans need to create more chances, having had only nine shots on target in their first six games of the season – a truly terrible tally.
Aston Villa: W D W W L L
Manchester City: W W L D D W
Christian Benteke is close to a return to first team action and is likely to be on the bench for this evening’s game.
Libor Kozaz has suffered a setback in his recovery, requiring further surgery.
Ron Vlaar’s calf injury makes him a doubt for this evening’s game.
Cissokho Baker Senderos Hutton
Westwood Cleverley Delph
The reigning champions’ confidence crashed after the defeat in Munich last month and we saw evidence that their European hangover is continuing when they faced Roma on Tuesday.
For the Citizens, the visit to Villa Park will be seen as an opportunity to vent their frustration at Tuesday’s result and to showcase their silky skills and strength once more. They have lost only one of their last fifteen away games – against Liverpool in April – and are firm favourites to win this evening against a side they have beaten more often than any other Premier League team.
Midfielder Fernando is available for selection, after missing six games because of a groin injury.
Nasri, who recently underwent groin surgery, is not available.
Referee: Chris Foy
Venue: Villa Park
Tickets: Tickets available, priced between £27 and £45
Last meeting: 7th May 2014 – Manchester City 4 – Aston Villa 0
0-2 – Mark Lawrenson
1-2 – Paul Merson
1-1 – AnneMc