City want Top 20 victory over Villa – Aston Villa v Man City

It’s a return to the muck and bullets of domestic football for Manchester City after the mid-week disappointment of the failure to repel invading Roman forces.

Whereas AS Roma did an effective Italian job in limiting City to a 1-1 draw on home soil, the Sky Blues often find the fields of Birmingham to be very fertile ground.

Top Gun - Yaya leads the charge for the 2013/14 title with City's 100th league goal in the 4-0 win over Villa - the penultimate game of the season. Courtesy @MCFC

Top Gun – Yaya leads the charge for the 2013/14 title with City’s 100th league goal in the 4-0 win over Villa – the penultimate game of the season. Courtesy @MCFC

Last season’s shock 3-2 reversal was far from keeping with the norm when City play Aston Villa. Paul Lambert’s Villains seem to be City’s most preferred Premier League opponents, having registered 19 wins over them, more than against any other team in the top flight.

Surely then, reasons to be cheerful as Manuel Pellegrini plots a third win on the road, and the maintenance of an unbeaten PL away record this season.

On the contrary there’s a perception of despondency associated with City, following successive disappointments in the Champions League. One point from a possible six and one goal, isn’t what was expected from the Champions of England.

Pelle-grin-i - Outsiders have a preception of despondency at City - they'd be wrong. Courtesy@MCFC

Pelle-grin-i – Outsiders have a perception of despondency at City – they’d be wrong. Courtesy@MCFC

A five point domestic disparity on Chelsea seems a whole lot easier to make up than the present three point deficit on Roma in Group E, but that’s the approach of the doom and gloom merchants who drink from half-empty cups.

In contrast, the cup half-full brigade envisage a trio of Champions League triumphs against CSKA Moscow – away and at home – and a big night when Bayern Munich visit the Etihad.

It could all come down to a ‘When in Rome’ scenario on December 10th to determine City’s fate in the CL.

Chirpy chappy - midfield dynamo Fernandinho points the way to ongoing City success. Courtesy@MCFC

Chirpy chappy – midfield dynamo Fernandinho points the way to ongoing City success. Courtesy@MCFC

Meanwhile back in downtown ‘Brum’ City’s Engineer needs to get his Sky Blue machine revved up for what many believe should be the top priority – retaining their title.

Manuel Pellegrini has said, on several occasions this season, that it will be ‘very difficult’ because Chelsea and Arsenal have strengthened over the summer.

Whether the cool Chilean is playing a game of bluff, or simply wanting to dampen expectations remains to be seen, but with the two London rivals clashing on Sunday, a City win tonight will have Maureen Moaninho taking an anxious glance in his rear view mirror.

Back of the net. Yaya scored one of his 20 PL goals last season at Villa Park, before City succumbed 3-2. Courtesy @MCFC

Back of the net. Yaya scored one of his 20 PL goals last season at Villa Park, before City succumbed 3-2. Courtesy @MCFC

When City contrived to somehow lose to Andre Weimann’s 75th minute winner – having twice held the lead – in late September 2013, Pellegrini was under intense scrutiny with just one point garnered from nine on the road.

Results away from ‘Fortress Etihad’ were destined to be his undoing, or so the salivating pundits and anti-City media would have had us believe.

It didn’t quite go to plan for the City haters, as a recent record of just one defeat in their least 15 away league matches (37 points taken from a possible 45) illustrates.

Lucky 14? - Super Frankie has already scored 13 goals against Villa in his career. Courtesy@MCFC

Lucky 14? – Super Frankie has already scored 13 goals against Villa in his career. Courtesy@MCFC

Villa’s home form adds further credence to City closing the gap on Chelsea to just two points by the end of the night. They’ve won just 14 of their last 56 league outings at Villa Park, losing 28 and averaging a point a game.

That said, nobody envisaged Lambert’s Lambs taking the spoils last time, especially as they had just 33% possession and eight attempts on goal, compared to City’s 21.

Tonight could see the return of standout striker, Christian Benteke after six months out with a ruptured Achilles, but Villa will still be missing skipper Ron Vlaar from the centre of defence with a calf injury.

City may well be beating the drums for Fernando, with the defensive midfielder poised to add some steel to a team that is prone to leaking goals.

He's back - Fernando is back in Pellegrini's squad after missing 6 matches. Courtesy@MCFC

He’s back – Fernando is back in Pellegrini’s squad after missing 6 matches. Courtesy@MCFC

The loss of the £12m summer signing from Porto has been cited as a major factor in the conceding of goals and dropping of points, since he limped out of the horrible home defeat to Stoke in late August.

Just one clean sheet in half-a-dozen PL matches is most unusual for City, a team often lauded for their goalscoring exploits, but always built on a solid showing in the goals against column.

Eliaquim Mangala could replace Martin Demichelis in the centre of defence, but that would in no way reflect on the popular Argentine’s performance levels. The 33-year old looks likely to be offered a new one-year deal before his current two year term runs its course this season.

Sticking around - Martin Demichelis should be extending his City contract by another 12 months. Courtesy@MCFC

Sticking around – Martin Demichelis should be extending his City contract by another 12 months. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini may continue his rotation system and bring in Aleksander Kolarov to replace Gael Clichy at left back.

The practice of keeping players fresh by resting them and ensuring playing time for the majority of the City squad, is not without obvious merit. It doesn’t however, help foster understanding, especially among the back four.

Is it a factor in City’s inability to keep clean sheets?

Jolly Joe - City's No 1 keeper in humorous mood at MCFC training. Courtesy@MCFC

Jolly Joe – City’s No 1 keeper in humorous mood at MCFC training. Courtesy@MCFC

We’ll have to leave that one to our trusted MP, albeit those trust levels are being examined a little more closely after Pellegrini selected his favoured 4-4-2 formation against Roma, only to be overrun by the opposition’s 4-5-1 in the middle of the park. It happened before against Barcelona and Bayern – it can’t keep happening.

With only Samir Nasri ruled out, there can be no excuses for failure, despite Villa’s feisty start to the campaign.

A Gabriel Agbonlahor winner at Anfield brought almost as much joy to City fans, as it did Villa’s, such is the intense dislike for bleating Brenda and Slippy G after Liverpool fans proclaimed themselves as champions on April 13 – the last time City lost away in the PL.

Holte End hero - just sign the contract! City supporters are desperate for Milner to stay at the Etihad. Courtesy@MCFC

Holte End hero – just sign the contract! City supporters are desperate for Milner to stay at the Etihad. Courtesy@MCFC

Former Holte End hero James Milner must surely start the match given his recent outstanding efforts. He has still to sign a new contract before his current deal runs out at the end of this season, and you’d be hard pressed to find a City fan who doesn’t want ‘Jimmy’ signed up like a US President – for four more years.

It boils down to hopefully four more months for Super Frankie Lampard, as City hope to extend his stay following his dramatic impact during his loan from New York City.

The ex-Chelsea legend, in keeping with his temporary Mancunian (via Abu Dhabi) employers, loves playing against Villa, having put the ball in their net on 13 occasions – the most against any single opponent.

Take a bow - Lampard has been superb in his short spell with City. Courtesy@MCFC

Take a bow – Lampard has been superb in his short spell with City. Courtesy@MCFC

With recent history in mind, it seems bizarre to say a Villa win would lift them above City in the table. It’s unthinkable, but it’s far from the realms of the impossible.

Any Champions League hangover could see Villa give Pellegrini a monstrous headache with only an unpalatable pill to swallow.

It simply must not happen.

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

 

Dedicated to a kind, considerate and courageous man who most of us had never met or even heard of until recent times of anxiety, terror and now tragedy.

Kind  & Courageous - RIP Alan Henning.

Kind & Courageous – RIP Alan Henning.

Alan Henning never wanted to be a hero, he just wanted to help those who were in desperate need. We can but salute a wonderful man and honour his memory. RIP Alan.

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

  

LAST CALL…

COMPETITION TIME IN CONJUNCTION WITH ETIHAD AIRWAYS

 

READ BUT NEVER RED IS DELIGHTED TO INVITE READERS TO WIN A BOXED MANCHESTER CITY HOME SHIRT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CITY’S SHIRT SPONSOR ETIHAD AIRWAYS www.etihad.com @EtihadAirways

A special one-off T-shirt has been produced to reflect the international flavour of Manuel Pellegrini’s squad – all you have to do is tell us how many individual players are named on the shirt and how many countries? If a player’s name appears on multiple occasions PLEASE ONLY COUNT IT ONCE.

Number's game - count how many INDIVIDUAL names and countries appear on the special Eitihad Airways commissioned T-shirt and you could win a Man City boxed home shirt with Read But Never Red.

Number’s game – count how many INDIVIDUAL names and countries appear on the special Eitihad Airways commissioned T-shirt and you could win a Man City boxed home shirt with Read But Never Red.

You can enter by leaving your answer in the comments section on the www.readbutneverred.com website or www.rbnr.co.uk alternatively on Twitter by following us @ReadButNeverRed and leaving your answer or posting on Facebook and if you like us click the LIKE button 😉

Win with Read But Never Red & Etihad Airways - a boxed MCFC home shirt awaits the winning entry.

Win with Read But Never Red & Etihad Airways – a boxed MCFC home shirt awaits the winning entry.

The winner will be drawn at random tomorrow and announced in the Read But Never Red match report and reflections on Villa v City.

24 Comments

  1. October 4, 2014  9:54 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    Good morning David.

    Home game for you today!

    It was against 'The Villa' last season that Yaya scored his wonder goal, not much has gone right for him since then. Today he might spend some time on the bench, because if anyone is in need of 'stock rotation' it is him.

    I like Paul Lambert. He's a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) manager not prone to histrionics and his teams (when I've been watching) try and play football. I like Lerner too, which goes to show that a American owner and a Scottish manager can a sometimes be good for football.

    To comment on your 'Cups half full half empty 'remarks. On Tuesday neither were available, because Uefa in its wisdom has decided the CL should be alcohol free. Ironic as Heineken are their major sponsors. No wonder thousands commandeered the TV, ordered a pizza and took a six pack out of the fridge.

    Question. Were the prawn sandwich brigade denied their Sauvignon Blanc fix on Tuesday night, or was it just the plebs?

    • October 4, 2014  10:05 am by David Walker Reply

      I was okay as a long distance driver I was on the 'coke' but I think I must be doing something wrong. Am I supposed to get a headache when I snort the stuff up my snout? I think it's the bubbles and fizz that do it. It's the same with Diet Pepsi!

  2. October 4, 2014  10:27 am by Glenn Kavanagh Reply

    Very sick puppies are them i.s or isil or whatever their calling themselves, very sad about Mr Henning its not hard to be a "macho" guy with a sword & a balaclava. Pure & utter dirt. Rip to a good man. Back to the fantasy drop the 42 put milner in the center with Fernando (great to have him back) villa have pace up front so mangala can cove that. Sergio was very very poor during the week, he needs to be more involved. Navas to start, kolorov on the left, if Alex hits the crosses over to dzeko first time we will cause villa big problems. He has been a touch slow lately in getting the ball into the box. The only way we play well is with a high tempo. 3 points badly needed. I'm glad to hear that Marty d is to get a new contract. Any truth in pogba been bought in the summer in place of the 42???? Surely their not going to spend fifty big ones on Barkley???

    • October 4, 2014  10:58 am by David Walker Reply

      Good input GK I'd go with Mangala and AK47, Milner & Fernando as definite starters. Super Frankie might be best deployed as as 60th minute sub depending on circumstances. The day of Yaya sitting on a bench cannot be that far away unless there is an upturn in performance. As for ISIS if you re-arrange the letters it actually spells murdering scumbags who should be wiped from the face of the planet strange that isn't it? I'd take Pogba over Barkley every day, but both are homegrown, both are young and, by next summer we'll be able to spend big without any FFP restrictions. Is it either or, or is it we'll have both if we can please?

  3. October 4, 2014  10:39 am by pete lynch Reply

    Great read David, apologies ive missed a couple due to work commitments. Really need a morale boosting thumping win. 3 0 with a Milner special will do! Fitting tribute to Alan Henning #RIP

    • October 4, 2014  11:02 am by David Walker Reply

      Hell, no need to apologise! I'll be happy with a 1 goal winning margin in whatever guise turns up. I forgot to mention in the article the ref is Mike Dean. One can only hope he feels ashamed of his performance against Chelsea and that will work in our favour. In respect of Alan Henning, it was just something I felt I could say with no ulterior motive other than to express what the whole country must be feeling today.

      Events such as his murder put football into perspective. Thanks again Pete.

      • October 4, 2014  3:47 pm by Mark Shaw Reply

        Couldn't help but notice you had Mike Dean down as referee, David. Not sure but I think it's Chris Foy? Which is just as bad an appointment if not worse!

        • October 5, 2014  3:01 pm by David Walker Reply

          I read it pre-match and thought it strange to be getting him so soon after the Chelsea debacle. Yes, Foy is generally useless, but on this occasion relatively innocuous.

  4. October 4, 2014  11:16 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    The opportunity is there today to have Maureen looking over his shoulder.
    I would play Kolorov, as it is on that flank in the last two games we have been exposed and found wanting.
    A dilemma for MP today - Mart or Mangala. I think he will probably start with Mangala and let him put that confidence sapping half hour last week behind him. With Fernando hopefully playing and a bit more clinical finishing we should be too strong for a Villa.
    A clean sheet today is important, and a 2-0 victory would make a wet afternoon in Birmingham very good.

    Man's Inhumanity to Man never ceases to amaze me, and this act against Alan Henning, who was only there for compassionate reasons is, to be honest, beyond my comprehension.

    • October 4, 2014  11:35 am by David Walker Reply

      With you 100% RC. Mangala, Fernando and Milner to start - I hope. As for those psycho bastards, if for one iota of a second we could understand their motives then it'd be a worry. There's no logic, no reason, no compassion...just psychopaths with criminal intent. They have to be, and will be, eradicated.

  5. October 4, 2014  12:18 pm by Phil Entwistle Reply

    A very dour read Dave, Villa away is or was becoming a simple 3 points, lets move on. We should be able to break them down with our attacking flair but only if we dominate the midfield. Sergio needs to get revved up and get his prowess back which takes the pressure of the defence. We, City need to ignore the vitriol from that Red gargoyle on MOTD regarding Mangala, defenders do score own goals and give penalties away, that's the nature of the job, he is the answer, just unsure what question people were asking from him.
    KTF

    • October 4, 2014  2:20 pm by David Walker Reply

      Dour - oh dear! So what, more glitter and happy powder sprinkled throughout? ;-) We should win this one. We have to win games like these if we want to keep the title but, as we all know, there are no easy games in the PL.

  6. October 4, 2014  12:23 pm by David Potts Reply

    Loving this blog. The only thing wrong with it is that it doesn't appear enough! More please! Anyway, the answers to your competition is 27 players and 11 countries.
    The final word on this post should be about Alan Henning. It's incomprehensible what's happening over there. A man goes to help and is murdered for it. Such savagery should have no place in the world and it's to be hoped that the perpetrators of such an act deserve all that is coming to them. Keep smiling, Alan, the world is with you.

    • October 4, 2014  2:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks David. Your competition entry shows that you don't have to go to Specsavers! I'm writing an average of 6 blogs per week, I have to earn a living, I have a family including a very demanding MCFC cockapoo - Mollie Zaba - you can't have any more ;-) As for the unspeakable brutality of ISIS against an innocent and giving individual such as Alan Henning - there are no words. One can only hope they face an early exit from this planet and eternal damnation awaits...if such a thing exists. First things first, let's get rid of the scum.

  7. October 4, 2014  12:44 pm by carole Reply

    Not too worried about our unspectacular start....players are all at differing levels of fitness following the world cup.

    But think we're lacking our usual creativity recently....Silva is the only one offering that at the moment but he can't do it all on his own with Yaya well below par. this is our main problem IMO.

    You can talk up Milner all you like but despite his boundless energy, he doesn't create much and can't take his chances in front of goal. Nasri is a huge miss for me....he gets important goals, creates chances and is a far better passer than Milner, especially in intricate short passes around the box.

    I'm hoping Jovetic starts; he was on fire before his injury and he too is one of the most creative forwards in the PL.That's what we're lacking...in my humble opinion.

    • October 4, 2014  2:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      As ever Carole, yours is always a valid and appreciated opinion.

  8. October 4, 2014  1:41 pm by Blue inc Reply

    RIP Alan

    Looking at only a win today Dave, with Jovetic showing what we have missed, hope the Mangle shows his worth today.

    You move in the right Circles Dave, if you get chance will you ask the so called Guru of football Marwood where is Kelechi Iheanacho is now he has turned 18.

    • October 4, 2014  2:27 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Blue. I think you'll find Kelechi is cutting his teeth in the MLS with Columbus Crew, but definitely one with a very bright sky blue future.

  9. October 4, 2014  3:59 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Yes, Villa, along with Newcastle are our favoured Premier League opponents. As you indicate, David, I think there will be a few changes today, but with Nasri being our only regular absentee, we should have enough in us to win the points. 3-1 to City.

    • October 5, 2014  3:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      Not a bad call - same margin of victory and nice to see a clean sheet.

  10. October 4, 2014  6:50 pm by Guvnor Reply

    Hi Mr Walker 0-2 I hope today. Great Blog as usual.
    The competition I think
    12 Countries
    27 Players
    But what do I know, See you soon.
    Guvnor

    • October 5, 2014  3:13 pm by David Walker Reply

      Spot on with your prediction and I'd say not a bad punt on the shirt competition.

  11. October 4, 2014  8:31 pm by Blue inc Reply

    What was they all saying about our Yaya? What a goal from the big Man.
    Think the powers that be should give him a piece of cake, just like one they gave Vieira..

    • October 5, 2014  3:11 pm by David Walker Reply

      Superb goal,so he deserves a slice of perfection...with cream.

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