Aston Villa host Man City on Saturday evening with Steven Gerrard looking to end a poor run of form to start the Premier League season.
Villa have lost four of five games so far this campaign, which leaves us in 19th place in the table with the third worst goal difference as we’ve simply not been good enough thus far.
Having lost again in midweek at Arsenal despite making changes, it remains to be seen if Gerrard saw enough in that performance to stick with a similar starting XI, or if he will continue to rotate as he has yet to settle on his best line-up and personnel.
Importantly though, the focus in the lead up to the team being announced will be on the system that he deploys, as with City undoubtedly set to enjoy plenty of possession as they look to control the tempo and look for an in-form Erling Haaland to do more damage after back-to-back hat-tricks, Villa need to be much better defensively and have a real presence in midfield to limit Pep Guardiola’s side.
Villa team news, injury updates
As per Gerrard in his press conference on Friday, new signing Leander Dendoncker has a throat issue and so is a doubt to play on Saturday, but the Villa boss added that both the Belgian and fellow deadline-day arrival Jan Bednarek will be assessed in training on Friday to determine if they will be available for selection.
With Tyrone Mings returning from illness in midweek and Philippe Coutinho shaking off fatigue to feature off the bench, Diego Carlos remains our only long-term absentee.
Gerrard likely to make changes to Villa XI once again
Given his track record thus far, it’s highly likely that Gerrard will make changes to his Villa line-up again with Emiliano Buendia and Leon Bailey given a rare start last time out.
Emiliano Martinez will no doubt continue between the posts, while Matty Cash and Lucas Digne will fill the full-back positions. It might be too early for Bednarek to feature so soon after arriving, and so Mings and Ezri Konsa could get the chance to continue in the heart of the Villa defence.
Boubacar Kamara continues to impress in difficult circumstances and so he’ll remain in the XI, while in contrast both John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey could be under pressure to keep their places.
Dendoncker will hope to come in if fit, while there is an argument for Douglas Luiz to get the nod to give us some semblance of composure and technical quality to help us keep the ball better ourselves.
Danny Ings and Coutinho will hope to force their way back into the side after being dropped at Arsenal, and so it ultimately revolves around whether Gerrard goes back to two up top for this one, and whether or not he thought the trident of Buendia, Bailey and Ollie Watkins did enough on Wednesday night to warrant another chance.
As noted above, he has had a habit of chopping and changing constantly and not giving certain players a real run in the side to find their form, and so it would come as no surprise if things are reshuffled once again on Saturday.
Aston Villa predicted XI vs Man City: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Kamara, Luiz; Coutinho, Bailey, Watkins.