ASTON VILLA v MAN CITY – City must maintain Manchester derby momentum

If Manchester City’s purple patch of form is to continue then the Villains of Aston will be more black and blue than claret and blue come five o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

Statistically City like to play Villa more than any other Premier League rival – they’ve beaten them more than any other top flight side – 18 times in total.

They’ve won seven of the last nine encounters, drawn one and lost out just the once, to debut boy Darren Bent’s boot, back in January 2011.

Absent Aguero - Sergio will be sadly missed at Villa Park

Absent Aguero – Sergio will be sadly missed at Villa Park

It bodes well for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, albeit they will be without superstar striker Sergio Aguero and midfield maestro David Silva due to injuries.

The loss of Aguero is balanced by the absence of Villa’s highly rated Belgian battering ram, Christian Benteke, who won’t now duel it out against his national skipper and the rock of City’s defence, the boulder that is Vincent Kompany.

Villa have won just three of their cup and league encounters with City in Birmingham during the 21st century, drawing five and losing five, and the formbook doesn’t suggest number four is on its way anytime soon.

That said, the Premier League is a great leveller like no other top division in Europe, and with Pellegrini still wounded from his first trip to Wales, City will presume nothing on this away day.

Belgian Boulder - Kompany is the supreme commander of City's defensive corp

Belgian Boulder – Kompany is the supreme commander of City’s defensive corp

Indeed, City’s recent PL travels have not been covered in glory with just a trio of victories from 10. It was relatively fruitless trips to the likes of QPR, Swansea and West Ham that cost them dear last season, not forgetting X-rated performances at Southampton and Everton.

Conversely Villa garnered six wonderful points at Arsenal and Norwich this season but have struggled badly at home. Since December last year they have taken a paltry 11 points from a possible 42, but they haven’t lost all three opening home fixtures since 1946.

Enough of the history lessons, the reality is that a stop-start Villa are coming up against a smooth running City, looking every inch the champions-elect, but lest we get ahead of ourselves so early in the season.

Team GB - Sadly absent from City's ranks this season

Team GB – Sadly absent from City’s ranks this season

It’s a fixture almost shorn naked of the recent City-Villa old boy reunions where good old Gareth Barry was often cast as the villain of the piece by the spurned Holte End hardliners. More generous in their applause to the hugely under-rated James Milner, the England utility man could well get a full 90 minutes, with Bayern Munich on the Manchester horizon next Wednesday.

Ever popular - James 'Jimmy' Milner is loved by Villa & City fans alike

Ever popular – James ‘Jimmy’ Milner is loved by Villa & City fans alike

Fair to say the City travelling support has always been warm in their appreciation of the past contributions of Richard Dunne, Shay Given and Stephen Ireland – none of whom will be on show.

Dunne’s form went south last season and he’s followed suit joining ‘Arry at QPR.  Ireland is now reunited with former City boss Mark Hughes at Stoke, and was accorded a level of warmth when he came on as a sub against the Sky Blues at the Britannia.

Shay has been displaced by the excellent Brad Guzan and is left to sit on the bench, comforted by a hefty salary that Villa boss Paul Lambert would doubtless love to get off the books.

As for the boys who are still in City colours, there seems to be a real sense of camaraderie, a team spirit not witnessed last season. As a lifelong City supporter I am not going to denigrate what Roberto Mancini achieved in the eyes of the fans, but there is a certain serenity being cultivated under the calm command of the man from Santiago.

With five league and two cup games under his belt, the players seem to be adapting to Pellegrini’s more expansive style of play. New signings Fernandinho, Navas and Negredo have adapted quickly and Jovetic, denied early season playing time by injury, is shaping up nicely.

The Beast - Negredo bullied Vidic throughout the Manchester derby

The Beast – Negredo bullied Vidic throughout the Manchester derby

The man from Montenegro could slot in alongside the Beast of Sevilla in the unfortunate absence of the sublime Sergio. Yes, Dzeko is playing his part with goals and a new verve and vitality in his all round play, but Negredo is looking every inch a 20-goal PL hitman.

It’s surely a case of Negredo or Dzeko – not both at the same time. Jovetic would provide the speed and guile to complement one or the other. Either way, it’s a nice ‘problem’ for Pellegrini.

Stevan on the gas - Jovetic could get the nod from Pellegrini

Stevan on the gas – Jovetic could get the nod from Pellegrini

The City defence that has kept a PL high of 21 clean sheets since the start of last season, should present an insurmountable hurdle for Villa’s Kozak (who loves ya baby…no sorry…that was Kojak, definitely Kojak) , Helenius, Weimann and Agbonlahor – but you never know.

If City’s midfield duo of Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri maintain the supremely high standards of Plzen and the Moyes Manchester Massacre matches, City ought to be unstoppable.

Pellegrini was quoted after the 5-0 romp against Wigan in midweek as having said: “I spoke with the players before we started the game, telling them we must always try to play the same way.

Yes yes Yaya - Toure de force - will Villa be able to cope with the Ivorian colossus?

Yes yes Yaya – Toure de force – will Villa be able to cope with the Ivorian colossus?

“We can change names but for me it was very important to see the same team we saw last Sunday, the same philosophy of football and the same high performance.”

Such a philosophy of ‘never mind the personnel this is how we play’, echoes the mantra that has made Barcelona such a success on the global stage. It bodes well for City and reflects the influence of ex-Barca bigwigs, CEO Ferran Soriano and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain.

City showed 10 changes against Wigan from the team that tossed Manure aside last Sunday, but it was a side that was more than capable of challenging for a top five PL berth.

One can only hope that the fire and tenacity that saw City wipe the floor with United can be replicated when going into combat against less illustrious foe.

It’s one thing having the bragging rights of Manchester but it wouldn’t look half as clever if City are runners-up to the team from the second city.

#TrustOurMP

 

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

15 Comments

  1. September 27, 2013  9:45 pm by andy williams Reply

    Hi Dave,

    Its andy williams from tnt, hope your ok pal, great read mate - drop me a mail back and we can get back in touch

    • September 28, 2013  1:12 am by David Walker Reply

      Will do fella - are you at Villa Park later today?

      • September 28, 2013  9:14 am by andy williams Reply

        no mate, have been trying to get hold of you via linkedin for a while but doesnt allow me to make contact? Anyway, spotted your blog on official website (kudos) and here I am !!

        drop me your detail onto my email address mate and we can arrange to meet up at etihad.

  2. September 27, 2013  9:52 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Brilliant write up the tossed aside made me chuckle and hopefully Pelligrini and Man City are a marriage made in heaven.MCFC FOREVER BLUE

    • September 27, 2013  10:20 pm by David Walker Reply

      Tossing aside...on a Friday night - Good Lord!

  3. September 27, 2013  10:10 pm by Mole Rocks Reply

    The Villa forward line up sounds akin to a gathering of Greek or Roman gods!

    Without Benteke in this group of brummie leviathans, I expect City to tear them to pieces and feed them to the lions!

    Wow, I don't know where that came from, you're becoming a bad influence David.

    Anyway, as you so eloquently put it, unless City maintain this new level of performance, the gloss of the recent wins will be diminished in my opinion.

    We have to build on it, win 6-7 games on the bounce, then see where we are, just in time for the January transfer window, if needed.

    I listened to the Wigan game on the radio and Jovetic won a lot of plaudits, could be an ideal sub once Nasri had spun his magic.

    Negredo (man crush permitting) is a definite starter for me, City will need his power and ball holding prowess to keep Villa pinned back in Toure free kick range.

    MP is starting to show his credentials and the players are responding admirably to his philosophy.

    Here's to another joyous 90 minutes, may the footballing gods bless City with a feast of goals.

  4. September 27, 2013  10:21 pm by David Walker Reply

    By Jupiter's Cock I do believe you're right - straight out of Spartacus that one good buddy! Cheers Carl.

  5. September 28, 2013  8:00 am by Guvnor Reply

    David, I like this Prelog to this game it was so eloquently put together. my reply though might not be. Me finks 0-2. speak soon

    • September 28, 2013  9:16 am by David Walker Reply

      Indeed - but where would I start with a shop fit or even begin to keep pace with you on the autobahns to Bavaria? Cheers Guvnor - updates later.

  6. September 28, 2013  8:02 am by Alan Baxter Reply

    I don't think this will be a walk in the (Villa) Park. I Trust our MP will have learned from the Stoke game that it's essential you start with your strongest XI as (cliche alert) there are no easy games in the Premier League unlike La Liga.
    The momentum is increasing and must be maintained. So come 5 O'Clock 3 points, and maybe a bottle of Claret for this blue would do very nicely.

    • September 28, 2013  9:18 am by David Walker Reply

      Very eloquent Mr B - I saw what you did there! Yes, we must not under estimate Villa today or we will come a cropper.

  7. September 28, 2013  8:17 am by Graham Ward Reply

    To get back to winning away days in the PL would be a nice way to finish off September. A pity there's no Aguero, hopefully he's being saved for Wednesday night, with an equally welcome return of Silva.

    • September 28, 2013  9:19 am by David Walker Reply

      Aguero has a slight knock so we're not risking him. Silva still has a muscle tear and would be on subs bench at the very best for Bayern. That said, in all fairness, Nasri is finally delivering - long may it continue.

  8. September 28, 2013  10:28 am by Andy Devereux Reply

    Top stuff David again,is a shame about Sergio but i too hope Jovetic gets a go with Negredo could be quite interesting that.Like you,Mr P and many others i have spoken to the way forward is to continue with plan to play as we have in rececent games and sll will be well. #TrustOurMP

  9. September 28, 2013  11:28 am by David Walker Reply

    I would like Negredo to start but MP might want to keep him fresh for Bayern Munich encounter. We must be careful not to take PL opponents lightly or it could backfire. That said - and I did say it first - #TrustOurMP. Thanks AD #MCFCBLUEBROS

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