Manchester City will aim to return to winning ways when they welcome Aston Villa to the Etihad on Wednesday.

Gameweek 31 of the 2023/24 Premier League season continues on Wednesday, with the day bringing us three matches. The action on the day will end when Manchester City and Aston Villa lock horns at the Etihad, with both teams eager to clinch three points.

Manchester City will come into the game this midweek on the back of successive stalemates in the Premier League. The latest result has left the defending champions three points behind the table-topping Liverpool with nine games left. But a relatively straightforward run-in awaits Pep Guardiola and his charges after Wednesday’s clash.

Speaking of Wednesday’s match, Aston Villa beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 this past weekend. That result brought them closer to Manchester City, although it is Tottenham Hotspur they need to worry about, with the North London club only three points behind. But Unai Emery might be worried about the fixture pile-up, with his charges playing every three days this month.

The reverse fixture saw Aston Villa eke out a 1-0 win over Manchester City, with Leon Bailey scoring the match-winning goal. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Aston Villa on Wednesday, the Manchester City manager will be bereft of the services of three first-team players.

Nathan Ake is the latest absentee for the home side, with the Dutch defender picking up a knock against Arsenal this past weekend. Ake has joined Ederson Moraes and Kyle Walker on the sidelines, with the experienced duo recovering from their respective hamstring injuries.

Stefan Ortega will continue to deputise for the injured Ederson between the sticks, with Manchester City lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him against Aston Villa. Rico Lewis should return to the team, starting as the right-back and joining Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji, and Josko Gvardiol in the backline.

As for the midfield unit, Mateo Kovacic should pair up with Rodri in the double pivot to add a layer of protection and allow Kevin De Bruyne the freedom to express himself. Finally, Jeremy Doku and Jack Grealish should be the two wide attackers, with Erling Haaland leading the line for Manchester City.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ortega; Lewis, Dias, Akanji, Gvardiol; Rodri, Kovacic; Doku, De Bruyne, Grealish; Haaland

Aston Villa

Like his counterpart in the Manchester City dugout, Unai Emery has a new issue to deal with ahead of the trip to the Etihad Stadium. The Aston Villa manager might be without as many as seven first-team players on Wednesday.

Ollie Watkins is the latest absentee after he picked up a hamstring injury this past weekend against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The English international has joined Matty Cash (thigh) in the treatment room, with Tyrone Mings, Emiliano Buendia, and Boubacar Kamara being long-term issues due to their respective knee complaints.

John McGinn continues to serve a suspension after seeing red against Tottenham and will return to the fold this coming weekend against Brentford. Meanwhile, Emery is sweating over the fitness of Jacob Ramsey, who might not be fit enough to start but should be in the matchday squad.

Aston Villa will line up in a 4-4-2 formation against Manchester City, with Emiliano Martinez being an automatic pick in the goal. The backline should feature Ezri Konsa, Diego Carlos, Pau Torres, and Lucas Digne.

As for the midfield unit, Douglas Luiz and Youri Tielemans should hold the fort in the middle of the park, with Morgan Rogers and Leon Bailey taking charge of the flanks. Moussa Diaby will continue his run in the final third, with Jhon Duran deputising for Ollie Watkins in the offensive department.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Martinez; Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne; Bailey, Luiz, Tielemans, Rogers; Diaby, Duran

Key Stats

  • Manchester City have won 17 of their last 18 Premier League home games against Aston Villa (L1), winning the 13 most recent clashes since a 2-0 defeat in April 2007.
  • Aston Villa can secure a league double over Manchester City for the first time since the 1962/63 season, having beaten the Premier League champions 1-0 in the reverse fixture.
  • Aston Villa have won just one of their last 30 away games against the reigning top-flight champions (D6 L23), beating Manchester United 1-0 in December 2009. The nine most recent outings have ended in defeat by an aggregate scoreline of 26-7.
  • Manchester City have won 27 of their last 29 Premier League Wednesday games (D1 L1), although the only defeat during this run came against Aston Villa in the reverse fixture.
  • Manchester City have won 19 of their last 21 Premier League games in April (D1 L1). They are unbeaten in 11 since a 2-1 home loss to Leeds United in 2021.

Player to Watch

Douglas Luiz

Embed from Getty Images

Ollie Watkins might have taken the cake had he been fit to start against Manchester City. Erling Haaland was also a candidate after drawing a blank in his last two Premier League games. But we have picked Douglas Luiz due to the layers of stories surrounding him.

The Brazilian international comes up against a club that sold him without giving him a run in the first-team squad. Interestingly, the Aston Villa midfield lynchpin has become the subject of interest from Manchester City. However, that is for the summer transfer window, and he will be the biggest factor stopping the Citizens from running riot on Wednesday.


Manchester City 2-0 Aston Villa

The absence of Ollie Watkins is a bitter blow to Aston Villa’s prospects at the Etihad. While Leon Bailey and Douglas Luiz will carry a significant threat in the final third, the Villans might struggle to breach Stefan Ortega’s goal due to the lack of a clinical attacker.

Watkins’s absence will not stop Aston Villa from taking the game to Manchester City, and they will give it their all to get the better of the reigning Premier League champions. But Villa’s blow-hot-blow-cold form will show up on the defensive front, with Erling Haaland finding his goalscoring boots. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Pep Guardiola and his charges.

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