Aston Villa are back in Premier League action on Wednesday night as we host title-chasing Manchester City at Villa Park.
There’s been a bit of a break for Dean Smith and the players with our last outing coming on April 10, and it’s hoped that it’s allowed the squad to recover and recharge ahead of the remaining eight games.
While City are looking to wrap up the league title in the coming weeks, Villa are still battling to at least finish in the top half of the table and so it remains to be seen how this fixture impacts both those ongoing races.
It’s been a struggle for Villa in recent months though as our form has dipped alarmingly, while we’ve won just two of our last eight games since we lost captain Jack Grealish to injury.
The stats and circumstances certainly don’t favour us as we’ve lost our last six encounters with City, who have scored at least two goals in all those meetings.
Further, they’ve won their last nine league away games, and they’ll be desperate to get back on track after recent losses to Leeds United and Chelsea in the Premier League and FA Cup respectively.
Put all that together and we’ve got our work cut out for us to get something from the game, especially given Grealish isn’t expected to return to feature as there has been no indication from the club’s updates over the past week that he is likely to be available.
Trezeguet will certainly miss out after needing knee surgery which will end his season, while Wesley featured for the U23s last week but still looks well short of being match fit.
Morgan Sanson missed the Liverpool game with a knock but he’ll hope to be able to return, but as noted above, there has been nothing to suggest that Grealish will be at Smith’s disposal in midweek.
The back five pick themselves given our impressive defensive record this season, while Smith could opt to go with Marvelous Nakamba in midfield again to give us more energy and defensive protection against a dangerous City side.
Anwar El Ghazi could come back into the starting XI in Trezeguet and Grealish’s absence which could be our only change from the loss at Anfield, although Ross Barkley and Jacob Ramsey could also be knocking on the door for a chance.
One thing that Smith could be tempted to do in the latter stages of the campaign is to bring through a few more youth-team players and give them an opportunity to impress off the bench. Time will tell if any are given the nod for such a difficult assignment though.
Predicted Villa XI vs Man City: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Nakamba, Luiz; Traore, McGinn, El Ghazi; Watkins.