Man City have gone almost two years unbeaten at the Etihad Stadium and will be confident of extending that record when they host Aston Villa on Saturday (3pm GMT).
City are currently second in the league and are the only team still undefeated at this stage of the campaign. Seven wins and four draws have yielded 25 points, leaving them just two shy of city rivals Manchester United at the Premier League’s summit.
Roberto Mancini’s men came back from a goal down to defeat a lacklustre Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 last weekend, Edin Dzeko coming off the bench to score an 88th minute winner.
It was hardly a vintage performance, with City actually looking quite laboured for much of the match. In the end they pushed through to get the result, something that is becoming quite a theme for them this season. They have scored winning goals in the final ten minutes of four matches and also secured a point with an 80th minute equaliser away to Liverpool.
There has been a certain lethargy to the club’s displays, mirrored in the demeanour of their coach. Mancini barely appeared interested for the majority of the win over Spurs, with certain television pundits even having a laugh at the Italian’s expense for one particular clip that suggested he was having trouble staying awake.
It was Mancini’s switch to a 3-5-2 formation that did, however, precipitate the consistent second half pressure that eventually saw the match swing in City’s favour. Maicon was given license to bomb forward down the right and got into numerous good positions high up the pitch, while City were able to circulate possession with ease, tiring Spurs until submission was all but inevitable.
Mancini appears to have no new injury worries coming into Saturday’s fixture, though will wait to assess the fitness of those returning from midweek international duty before deciding on his starting line-up.
His opposite number, Paul Lambert, also looks to have no fresh concerns on the injury front. He should soon be able to call on the likes of Chris Herd, Darren Bent, Joe Bennett and Richard Dunne, all of whom are nearing recovery from their respective injuries.
Lambert watched on with horror last weekend as his side surrendered a two goal advantage to lose 3-2 to Manchester United at Villa Park. Hesitant defending and poor marking put paid to his hopes of causing an upset.
That defeat kept Villa in 17th place in the Premier League table with nine points to their name from two wins, three draws and six defeats. Despite their lowly position there have recently been signs of improvement, with goalkeeper Brad Guzan stating earlier this week that the team are “starting to create an identity” for themselves under Lambert’s command.
Lambert purchased a rag-tag bunch of lower league hopefuls and experienced foreign professionals over the summer and is now gradually moulding them into a cohesive unit. There is at least a bit of verve to Villa’s play now, something that was sorely lacking last season under Alex McLeish’s leadership.
Christian Benteke has probably been the most impressive of Lambert’s signings. The mountainous 21-year-old striker has only scored twice in the league since his £7 million move from Gent, but his pace and power have been a consistent threat to opposition defences.
Benteke swatted Chris Smalling aside with ease before squaring for Andreas Weimann to fire home Villa’s first against United last weekend. The battle between him and Belgian international team-mate Vincent Kompany promises to be one of the most intriguing facets of Saturday’s encounter.
Benteke was key to Villa’s 4-2 Capital One Cup victory over an under-strength City team in late September and as in that match, he will probably be flanked by Gabriel Agbonlahor and Weimann on Saturday. In the Champions League, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax have both shown the benefits of attacking City with pace and that is a template Lambert could very well elect to follow.
Man City v Aston Villa Betting Tips Verdict
City are yet to truly convince so far this season but are still undefeated and right up there at the top of the table. They have won five of their six home matches and have the requisite talent to eventually overcome a Villa team that are improving but have lost four of their six away fixtures and are still in the lower reaches of the table.
There is, however, little value in simply backing City to win, such are the prohibitive odds on offer (2/9 best price).
- With Sergio Aguero having travelled to the Middle East to take part in Argentina’s draw with Saudi Arabia in midweek, we think Dzeko could be in line to start. He is City’s top scorer with six goals and we fancy him to add to his total on Saturday, Therefore back Edin Dzeko to score and Manchester City to win on a score/win double @ 5/4 with Ladbrokes.
- City rarely come out of the traps quickly and have scored 70% of their goals in the second half of matches so far this season. We expect Saturday’s match to follow a similar pattern so back over 1.5 goals in the second half @ 4/6 with Bet365.