Despite many having already written off City’s chances, manager Roberto Mancini refuses to concede that it is a lost cause.
“I was not strong in mathematics when I went to school, but with 11 games to play, 33 points—last year we won the title with six games to go, eight points—I think that everything is possible,” he said in his pre-match press conference.
Mancini’s outlook is sure to have been brightened following an impressive 2-0 win over Chelsea last time out. It appears unlikely that Vincent Kompany will be fit to make his return form a calf injury against Villa, although Gareth Barry is back in the squad.
While Saturday’s results did not favor Manchester City, the reverse was true for their opponents. Aston Villa remain in the relegation zone, but the three teams in their immediate vicinity—Reading, Wigan and Southampton—all fell to defeat. A point at Villa Park would take Paul Lambert’s side out of the bottom three.
Lambert should have defender Ron Vlaar back from a calf injury, but Darren Bent is set to again miss out.
Aston Villa (probable)
D: Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker
M: Delph, Westwood
Weimann, N’Zogbia, Agbonlahor
Manchester City (probable)
D: Zabaleta, K. Toure, Nastasic, Clichy
M: Garcia, Barry
Milner, Y. Toure, Silva
Prediction: Manchester City won the reverse fixture 5-0 earlier this season and, while the scoreline likely won’t be quite as emphatic, the final outcome should be the same.
City looked almost as good as they have all season in their win over Chelsea and should take confidence from that into Villa Park. Yaya Toure was excellent in a more advanced role and it will be interesting to see if Mancini keeps him there or adds an extra forward to the lineup. Regardless of whether Toure forms part of a two or three in midfield, they should still have too much for their inexperienced opponents.
Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester City
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick-off at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.