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Premier League: Red-Hot City Ready to Reclaim Top Spot


Premier League: Red-Hot City Ready to Reclaim Top Spot

Manchester City vs Aston Villa

Manchester City are closing in on top spot in the Premier League. After another convincing win over Crystal Palace over the weekend, City are now just two points behind rivals Manchester United with a game in hand.

City will be back in first place — for a few hours at least — if they can pick up their sixth win on the bounce in their midweek fixture at home against Aston Villa.

Villa will finally make their much-awaited return to Premier League action after their last two matches were postponed due to their COVID-19 outbreak.

But Jack Grealish and the Villans couldn’t have asked for a much tougher opponent to get their season back on track as they face a City defence that is looking unbeatable at the moment.

Talking Points

City looking like championship favourites again

The Premier League 2021 betting odds have Manchester City as favourites to win the title once again, and it’s easy to see why given their current form. Pep Guardiola’s side continued their impressive winning run by crushing Crystal Palace 4-0 over the weekend.

It was City’s eighth straight victory in all competitions and fifth in a row in the league. Meanwhile, they have gone 15 matches unbeaten in all competitions since losing at Spurs back in November (12 wins, 3 draws).

City’s defence also secured a fourth consecutive clean sheet. They have given up just two goals in their nine matches since that loss to Spurs.

Aside from Pep’s tactical changes, John Stones’ reemergence as a reliable centre-back has been key to City’s remarkable defensive turnaround. Stones is also contributing on the offensive end; he scored twice in the win against Palace, giving him 3 goals in his last four games.

Raheem Sterling also got a much-needed goal, his first since scoring the winner against Southampton on December 19th.

City are no longer getting consistent goals from Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, or Sergio Aguero, who has been cast aside in recent months.

But City can still get a goal or two as long as Kevin De Bruyne is on the pitch. The brilliant Belgian has provided an assist in each of his last three appearances and five in his last seven.

Rodri, who was rested in the Palace win, is likely to return to the starting XI in place of Fernandinho, along with Joao Cancelo. Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez are also candidates to replace Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus.

COVID-hit Villa finally returning to action

Aston Villa are all set to make their first Premier League appearance since losing to Manchester United on New Year’s Day. They were hit by a COVID-19 outbreak ahead of their FA Cup tie against Liverpool and were forced to field a team of youngsters as a result.

Then came the massive Premier League 2021 news that their next two fixtures at home against Tottenham and Everton were postponed due to their lack of available first-team players.

Prior to their COVID crisis, Villa were right up there among the most impressive teams in the league. They had gone five matches unbeaten (3 wins, 2 draws) before losing at Old Trafford.

Defence has surprisingly been Villa’s strength this season. They have conceded just 16 goals in 15 games thus far and have given up just one goal in their last five matches.

On the other end, Ollie Watkins and Jack Grealish have gone on extended goalscoring droughts; neither player scored in all of December. Thankfully, wingers Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore have both stepped up to carry the scoring load. El Ghazi has scored 5 goals in his last 6 games, while Traore has 3 in his last 4.

The combination of their strong defence, coupled with the counterattacking capabilities of Grealish and co., have made Villa quite a formidable away side. They have won 5 of their 8 matches outside Villa Park, while conceding just 5 goals.

History

City have completely bossed Villa in the league in recent years. They have won 10 of their last 12 meetings, with one draw and one defeat.

City did the double over Villa last year. They won 3-0 at the Etihad, then thrashed them 6-1 at Villa Park thanks to a Sergio Aguero hat-trick. City also beat Villa 4-0 in their previous two meetings back in 2016.

Villa were slightly more competitive in their Carabao Cup final matchup in March of last year. But City still came out on top, 2-1, thanks to first-half goals from Aguero and Rodri.

Betting Tip

First Half 1X2 Manchester City @ 1.64

SBOTOP odds have City priced as massive 1.23 favourites to pick up their sixth straight win, with Aston Villa priced at an astronomical 13.00 underdogs. Meanwhile, a draw is 5.60.

All the signs point toward another City win. The Sky Blues are simply in sensational form, with their defence completely shutting opposing attacks down. Meanwhile, Villa could be quite rusty after a lengthy layoff where they had little time to train after undergoing isolation.

With top spot firmly in their sights, City should be ready to take care of business and make short work of Villa at home.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 


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