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Kevin De Bruyne drops to bench, Jack Grealish makes starting return – Predicted XI: Manchester City vs Aston Villa (Premier League)



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Manchester City look to get back on track in the Premier League title race as they host Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

Pep Guardiola’s side come into the contest off the back of a 0-0 draw with title-rivals Arsenal at home, seeing the Blues drop to a three-point gap to current league leaders Liverpool with just nine games remaining in the campaign.

But the Etihad outfit will have little time to let their guard down as a resurgent Aston Villa side travel to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, having beaten the champions in the December reverse fixture.

Injuries could tell the story of this clash as both sides will come into the midweek fixture without a plethora of first-team stars; namely Ollie Watkins and Jacob Ramsey, while John McGinn will miss out through suspension for the visitors.

For Manchester City, Kyle Walker, Ederson, and Nathan Ake’s absences have been confirmed by Pep Guardiola during his pre-match press conference, while John Stones’ fitness status is still relatively unknown after making the bench against Arsenal.

With all of that in mind, this is how we believe Manchester City could set up against Aston Villa on Wednesday night in the first of eight matches across the course of April.

Predicted XI

Stefan Ortega Moreno remains in goal for Manchester City as Ederson continues a delayed return from the thigh injury sustained against Liverpool, with yet another opportunity for the German to impress.

With injuries galore, and even more so in defensive areas for the Treble winners, Pep Guardiola’s back-four ultimately picks itself this week, starting with Rico Lewis in the right-back role.

As the central defensive pairing, we believe Manuel Akanji will partner Ruben Dias after Nathan Ake’s injury against Arsenal, and John Stones unlikely to be risked as he continues to build up the necessary match fitness.

Meanwhile, Josko Gvardiol will slot in at left-back once again – a role he excelled in against the Gunners at the weekend, as the Croatian continues to develop his understanding of Pep Guardiola’s system following the summer move to the Etihad.

The first name on the team sheet is always Rodri these days, and he paired nicely with Mateo Kovacic at the weekend, and as such we expect those two to reign over the centre of the park once again.

What better time is there to rejoin the action from the start than against your boyhood club? That’s exactly what we expect Jack Grealish to do on Wednesday night as Manchester City look to get him rolling again at the start of the business end of the season.

On the other flank, Bernardo Silva will play a similar style to Grealish, setting the tempo and trying find those tricky balls in behind for Manchester City’s most advanced of their attacking stars to convert into clear chances.

That leaves the true attacking thrust to come from Phil Foden in the middle. The attacker was perhaps misused and in the eyes of some, wrongfully substituted, against Arsenal, so his chance to prove those theories should come against the Villains on Wednesday night.

That leaves Erling Haaland up front once again. The Norwegian striker has gone somewhat cold in front of goal as of late, but with his outstanding ability, a freak scoring night is never too far off in the distance.

Starting XI: Ortega Moreno; Lewis, Akanji, Dias, Gvardiol; Kovacic, Rodri; Bernardo, Foden, Grealish; Haaland.

Substitutes: Carson, Stones, Gomez, Wright, Nunes, De Bruyne, Bobb, Doku, Alvarez.