Manchester City will be without Sergio Aguero as they look to maintain their advantage over Liverpool heading into the final day of the Premier League title race, but will have Yaya Toure available.
Aguero went off with a groin injury in City’s 3-2 victory over Everton on Saturday. Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that the striker will miss Wednesday’s clash at home to Aston Villa and will also be a doubt for the final match of the season against West Ham. Toure was also taken off at Goodison Park, but Pellegrini confirmed it was merely a precaution.
Since their last win, City’s championship hopes have been given a major boost by Liverpool’s extraordinary late collapse at Crystal Palace when they let a 3-0 lead slip to take away just a point. It means the Manchester club go into their final two games knowing that four points will realistically be enough to seal a second title in three years. It is a stunning turnaround after City’s defeat to Liverpool three weeks ago looked to have knocked them out of contention. But, despite now being resounding favorites and facing two teams with little to play for, Pellegrini is taking nothing for granted.
“When we lost against Liverpool, I said we must continue because other teams will drop points,” he explained. “That has happened.
“We have to win the game against Aston Villa; then at the end of the week, we will see which team has more points. We will prepare exactly the same as we have done in all the games during the year. We know the next game is always the most important.
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“It is a difficult game because all the teams are under pressure. If we play at home as we did so far I hope that we can win the game. A lot of people said Everton were not going to win because they didn’t want Liverpool to win the title but we had a very tough game against them. I am sure that Aston Villa will be a difficult team for us.”
City have now won three matches in a row following their defeat to Liverpool and subsequent nervy draw against Sunderland. David Silva was taken off with an ankle injury in that match but could return to the starting lineup for the first time since, on Tuesday, having come off the bench against Everton.
A meeting with Aston Villa now looks more straightforward than it did a couple of week ago. After another difficult season, Paul Lambert’s side have secured their Premier League status with two games to spare following their first win in six matches, at home to Hull City on Saturday.
Villa’s attack will also be compromised by several injuries. With Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak ruled out with long-term problems, Lambert revealed that Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann are also doubts. It could well lead to a first Premier League start of the season for Jordan Bowery.
Those absentees will doubtless harm Villa’s undoubted strength on the counter attack. Despite another disappointing season, Villa have excelled when counter-punching against the Premier League’s best sides. In addition to beating Manchester City at home earlier in the campaign, the Midlands club have also defeated Arsenal and Chelsea as well as taking a point off of Liverpool. And Lambert insists that his team won’t merely be going through the motions at the Etihad, but will instead relish the freedom their position brings.
“That's what you are hoping. You go there with the shackles off,” he said, according to Aston Villa’s official website. “The pressure isn't there for us. They are really strong though.
"You're going to have to run a lot without the ball, work really hard without the ball but you also know you have to go and try to win a game. That's what we will try to do. We're not going there just to make up the numbers. We will try to win.”
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.