Mark Hughes has admitted that the absence of European football may have helped City’s domestic form so far this season.
The Blues’ failure to qualify for the Europa League, either by league position or winning last season’s UEFA Cup, was a bitter pill to swallow at the end of 2008/09.
But despite undoubtedly casting envious glances at Everton and Fulham as they contest the group stages of the nascent Europa League, Hughes says that the lack of a game this week after the win over West Ham is the ideal preparation for Monday’s trip to Villa Park.
He said: “There was a disappointment at the end of last season because we weren’t able to qualify for Europe, but it could have been a blessing in disguise. We had an intense week last week, but we came through that with flying colours.
“If we had had to face a European tie on the Thursday that could have compromised us going into the Villa game, but we haven’t.
“The positives are that we are fresh, we were able to give the guys a little bit of time off to recover from their exertions on Monday and we are in good shape. We’re pleased with the rest from that point of view.”