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  • Date: Wednesday April 3 – 20:15 BST
  • Location: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Teams: Manchester City vs Arsenal

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Big game for both sides in the fight for the title and the race for Europe

The last time Manchester City tasted defeat was at Villa Park in December. It is testament to the quality and consistency of Liverpool and Arsenal that Pep Guardiola’s side are currently in third place given their long unbeaten run. Prior to their win over Wolves, Villa had only taken one point from matches against Tottenham and West Ham United. A trip to City is as difficult as it gets, however, Unai Emery will be looking to come away with something as they look to securefourth place.

Manchester City

On Easter Sunday, Manchester City clashed with Arsenal in a tense showdown at the Etihad Stadium. The encounter ended in a goalless draw, marking the first time in 57 home matches across all competitions that Manchester City failed to score, a streak dating back to October 2021. This also represented their first Premier League fixture at the Etihad without a goal since the same month.

Arsenal’s defensive resilience, with William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes outstanding, proved formidable, frustrating Manchester City’s attempts to find the net throughout the match. Despite enjoying significant possession, the treble winners managed only one shot on target.

The draw leaves Manchester City in the third position in the Premier League standings, with Arsenal trailing by just one point. Meanwhile, Liverpool has surged ahead, establishing a three-point lead over City in the title race.

Despite the disappointment of failing to score, Manchester City’s unbeaten streak across all competitions continues, stretching to 23 games since December. It was, of course, Villa who were the  last team to defeat Guardiola’s side, adding intrigue to Wednesday’s clash.

Nathan Ake was substituted in the first half of Sunday’s draw with Arsenal with an unspecified problem.  Neither Ederson nor Kyle Walker recovered from their thigh injuries in time either and both are doubtful for Villa, with Guardiola confessing that his first choice goalkeeper was not even close to being fit enough to play against the Gunners. John Stones was surprisingly on the bench on Sunday, however, he was not called into action and is not thought to be 100% fit. Rico Lewis looks set to replace Ake, while Jeremy Doku and Villa old-boy Jack Grealish might force their way into the starting XI

Aston Villa

Moussa Diaby’s resurgence and Aston Villa’s recent form have been remarkable. Diaby’s impact, scoring a goal and providing an assist, underscores his vital role in the team’s success. Aston Villa’s consistent away performances in 2024, maintaining an unbeaten run in their first eight road games, showcase their resilience under Emery’s guidance.

The mention of UEFA uncertainties and the significance of securing a top-four spot due to coefficient rankings adds depth to Villa’s objectives, highlighting the complexities of European qualification in modern football.

Furthermore, the historical context provided regarding Aston Villa’s struggles away to reigning champions underscores the magnitude of their upcoming challenges. Overcoming such hurdles will be pivotal for Villa to sustain their momentum and achieve their goals in the Premier League.

Ollie Watkins picked up a hamstring injury in the win over Wolves and was replaced by Jhon Duran. If Walkins is out for any length of time it will be a huge blow to Emery’s side. Watkins is due a scan, but he must be rated as extremely doubtful for the City match. Tyrone Mings (knee), Boubacar Kamara (knee), Emiliano Buendia (knee) and Matty Cash (thigh) all miss out and John McGinn is suspended. Jacob Ramsey (ankle) could possibly return.

Prediction

It is an important game for both sides, but after losing ground in the title race at the weekend, City will be aware that they can’t afford any more slip ups. We think that City will have too much for Villa, especially given Watkins’ likely absence. Home win.

Premier League
Manchester City vs Aston Villa
GB Etihad Stadium, Manchester
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Christopher

Chris is a former athlete and a qualified PE teacher. He is a keen football fan, watching many matches at different levels throughout the season, and enjoys following many different sports. With betting and sports sites, he has a keen eye for detail and can to highlight positives and negatives for users. His experience in sport as a performer, teacher, writer and fan allows him to see things from many different perspectives.

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