Men's Team

Gundogan skippers the side as City make eight changes

Gundogan skippers the side as City make eight changes
Ilkay Gundogan returns and captains the side as City make eight changes for tonight’s return to Premier League action at Aston Villa.

With a busy fixture schedule still in full swing, manager Pep Guardiola has again opted to freshen things up from the team that played in last Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.

Alongside the return of German midfielder Gundogan, goalkeeper Ederson, Kyle Walker, Oleks Zinchenko, John Stones, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez all come back into the starting eleven.

Keeper Zack Steffen, Joao Cancelo, Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling and Ferran Torres revert to the bench.

Kevin De Bruyne is sidelined with the ankle injury that forced him off against Chelsea last Saturday whilst Sergio Aguero also remains unavailable.

Teams

City: Ederson, Walker, Zinchenko, Dias, Stones, Rodrigo, Gundogan ©, Bernardo, Foden, Jesus, Mahrez

Subs: Steffen, Ake, Laporte, Mendy, Cancelo, Garcia, Fernandinho, Sterling, Torres

Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings (C), Targett, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Nakamba, Traore, Watkins, Ramsey

Subs: Heaton, Hause, Taylor, Engels, El Ghazi, Barkley, Chukwuemeka, Elmohamady, Davis

WATCH: De Bruyne named Etihad Player of the Month

FORMATION AND TACTICS

Goalkeeper Ederson returns between the sticks and will be shielded by a familiar back four of Walker, Dias, Stones and Zinchenko.

Rodrigo is expected to anchor the midfield allowing Gundogan and Bernardo to be deployed in more advanced roles.

Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez are likely to operate on the flanks with Gabriel Jesus through the middle – though all three can interchange with each other comfortably.

Final stretch

With just six league games left, tonight’s return to Premier League action in the Midlands offers City the opportunity to take another huge step towards what would be a third league title in four seasons.

Though second placed Manchester United have narrowed our lead to eight points, we are still very much in the driving seat.

And a three-point haul at Villa Park this evening would leave City needing just eight more to be mathematically sure of being crowned champions assuming United win all their remaining fixtures

It promises to be the toughest of challenges however.

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Man City

Dean Smith’s side have earned widespread plaudits for the impressive way they have gone about their business this season and currently lie in 11th place in the table.

Furthermore, they provided City with the stiffest of challenges in our league clash at the Etihad back in January and it took two late goals from Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty to unlock the Villans rearguard.

Pep Guardiola’s squad will be aware it’s likely to be an equally challenging assignment this evening.

Stats and facts

Head-to-head

Aston Villa have lost 11 of the past 13 Premier League meetings, with their only victory during this period coming in September 2013.
Manchester City have won their four most recent league games against Villa by an aggregate score of 15-1.

Aston Villa

Dean Smith's side have lost half of their 16 league fixtures in 2021 and only won once in the last six attempts.
Villa have lost eight of their past 10 league games against the league leaders. The exceptions were a 1-0 win against Chelsea in 2014 and a goalless draw with Manchester City in 2015.
They have earned 24 points in away games this season, compared to 20 at home. Villa haven't ended a top-flight season with fewer points at home than away since 2012-13.
Emiliano Martinez still needs one clean sheet to match Brad Friedel's Villa Premier League record of 15 in a season, set in 2009-10.
Ollie Watkins could score in three consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time.

Manchester City

We are aiming for a 10th successive Premier League away victory. It would make them the first team to achieve the feat more than once, having won 11 in a row between May-December 2017.
City are on a club record run of 16 consecutive away victories in all competitions and are unbeaten in 19 on the road.
We lost our previous league match, against Leeds, but haven't suffered consecutive defeats since December 2018.
City require 11 points from their final six matches to guarantee a fifth Premier League title.
City have won 14 successive Premier League fixtures on Wednesdays, the best run on a specific day other than Saturday in the competition's history.
Sergio Agüero has scored 10 goals in his past six starts against Aston Villa in all competitions, including a hat-trick in a 6-1 victory last season.

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