Pep Guardiola has made six changes to the side that beat Manchester United in the Carabao Cup semi-final in midweek.

After playing without a recognised striker against the Reds, the City boss recalls both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to the starting line-up.

Ederson is also back after missing the last four games through suspension and illness.

Joao Cancelo, John Stones and David Silva are also recalled, with those replaced all dropping down to the bench.

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Starting XI:

Ederson, Cancelo, Mendy, Stones, Fernandinho, Rodrigo, D Silva, De Bruyne, Jesus, Mahrez, Aguero

Subs: Bravo, Walker, Gundogan, Sterling, Otamendi, Foden, Bernardo


                        BACK IN BLUE : Ederson returns
BACK IN BLUE : Ederson returns


Villa XI:

Possible formation

Cancelo and Mendy will flank Stones and Fernandinho with Rodrigo just in front, protecting the back four .

David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne will be our central attacking midfielders with a likely front three of Riyad Mahrez on the right, Jesus on the left and Aguero through the middle.

So, 4-3-3 (on paper!)

Champions need to keep winning

City will move second in the Premier League with at least a draw at Villa Park.

The champions start the day 17 points behind Liverpool who continue to set an unrelenting pace at the top.

There is little sign of the Merseysiders dropping points at present and they would need a sizeable blip to lose their grip on the lead.

But anything is possible, however unlikely it seems at the moment.

If City can win today and beat Palace on Saturday, that gap becomes 11 points – should Liverpool lose a couple of games, the Blues have to be ready to capitalise, particularly with a game against Liverpool at the Etihad still to come.

There has been no opportunity for City to apply even slight pressure on the leaders – yet – but it still could happen.

The champions must target going into the game with Liverpool in April only eight points behind – because a victory at the Etihad would reduce that to five and as we’ve seen many times, anything could happen from there.

It all seems unlikely at this stage, but if City can keep winning games, who knows?

 

Last meeting...


Stats and facts

Villa have lost nine of their past 11 Premier League meetings with City with their only victory in that run came back in September 2013.

City have kept a clean sheet in eight of the last 10 league encounters.

Villa have earned six points from their past three league games - two more than they managed in their previous nine.

Villa have won only three of their 49 Premier League matches against the reigning champions, losing the last 11 in a row.

Since the start of the 2011-12 season, no player has scored more Premier League goals against newly-promoted teams than Sergio Aguero's 31.

Victories against Villa and Crystal Palace would reduce the gap to Liverpool to 11 points – Liverpool kick-off 24 hours later than City next weekend.

Sergio Aguero remains two goals shy of becoming the Premier League’s greatest overseas goal-scorer.