The FA Cup is in full swing again this weekend, with many teams looking to book their places into the next round. Aston Villa despatched Wycombe Wanderers at the second time of asking, beating the Chairboys 2-0 at Villa Park last week to book a fixture with Manchester City in the fourth round.
The Citizens, who are strong contenders for the title this season, will travel to Villa Park with the objective of knocking out the Villans in order to sustain their charge for more silverware. They’ll also be aware of Villa’s mini resurgence, as Garde’s men have not lost in the last five games, sparking some desperately needed confidence in to the B6 side.
Venue: Villa Park
Date: Saturday 30th January 2016
Referee: Mike Jones
Aston Villa remain without Alan Hutton and Carlos Sánchez as they are recovering from hamstring injuries. Sánchez was involved in training last week but it seems as if the Colombian still hasn’t fully recovered so he will sit this game out.
Jordan Amavi and Adama Traoré remain long term absentees.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, a player who has been tipped to leave Aston Villa during this transfer window, may come back into the fold this weekend. He will face a fitness test this morning to see if he will make a return following a back injury which has kept him out for the last couple of months. He will look to play some part against Manchester City.
The visitors will sorely miss Kevin De Bruyne, who was stretchered off in the mid-week game against Everton. The influential midfielder fell awkwardly during the semi-final of the League Cup on Wednesday and, during the week, it was confirmed that he had sustained some ligament damage to his knee. The City gaffer, Manuel Pellegrini, stated that the talented Belgian will only miss a few weeks with injury, as opposed to the rest of the season as first feared.
Manchester City’s talismanic defender Vincent Kompany also misses out due to an on-going calf problem, as do fellow defenders Aleksandar Kolarov and Eliaquim Mangala.
Samir Nasri remains another casualty.
Striker Wilfried Bony is nearing a return following a calf injury, although this game will come too soon for him.
The danger men:
I think everyone knows what Sergio Aguero is capable of and he will be the man to watch. He truly is a world class striker, admired by millions around the world for his goal-scoring instinct. He is not a player who will rely on his team-mates to put him into goal scoring positions; Aguero is a striker who has the skill to create chances for himself from nothing. The Villa defence will have to be on top form to keep Aguero at bay and minimise his impact in front of goal.
If it isn’t Sergio Aguero banging in the goals for Manchester City then Yaya Touré will. The big Ivorian can go missing in games but is always likely to snatch a goal or two at vital moments to give City the advantage. During his City career so far, Touré has scored some invaluable goals from midfield and, unless he is effectively marked, any space in and around the box will mean trouble for the opposition as Touré is capable of scoring from range, no matter the distance.
David Silva will look to get between the lines of the Villa midfield and defence and will look to pull the strings of City’s attack. Allowing Silva too much time on the ball will mean that he will be able to find little pockets of space and will look to create chances for all his team-mates on the attack.
Raheem Sterling is also another threat who seems to be settling in well in his first year at City. The pacey forward will look to get in behind the defence at any opportunity so nullifying his attacking thtreat will be important for our full backs.
The Villans are unbeaten in their last five competitive games in all competitions, winning two and drawing three (D W D W D).
At home, Villa’s last loss came in the league against Arsenal in early December. Since then, however, the side’s form has improved as Garde rang the changes and got a positive response from his team. At home, Villa have won two, drawn two and lost one (W D W D L).
The visitors have also been on a decent run, winning three of their last five games and drawing twice (W D W D W).
Away from home, City’s record is still a decent one. They’ve won twice, drawn twice and lost one (D W L W D).
In the past:
The last time these two teams played each other was in the league, at the start of November. It was a new chapter for Aston Villa as it was Garde’s first game in charge after replacing Tim Sherwood. With the team’s confidence shot to pieces, Garde managed to inspire a battling display from his players to earn a draw. The players fought to impress their new manager and their reward was a point and a clean sheet. The Villans did defend well, although they did seem to get a little bit of luck going their way. Guzan made a brilliant save to deny Sterling a tap in during the game, as a few other chances went begging for the visitors, but the Villans’ resolve remained unbroken.
A similar result this afternoon could spark even more belief into this Villa side, which could give the whole club a boost. Pellegrini’s men are very much the favourites, however, and a Villa win would probably be the biggest upset this weekend.