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John Stones to start, Rico Lewis to join Mateo Kovacic in Rodri role – Predicted XI: Aston Villa vs Manchester City (Premier League)



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Manchester City travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa on Wednesday night, as the Premier League champions look to stabilise themselves amidst a period of difficult results.

The gruelling winter schedule is well underway in the English top-flight, with a difficult midweek clash against a high-flying Aston Villa side being the latest challenge on the road for Pep Guardiola’s players.

A draw away to Bournemouth was the most recent result for Unai Emery’s side, which was a point matched by Manchester City later that afternoon, as they conceded a late dagger to Ange Postecoglou’s resilient Tottenham side in an entertaining 3-3 draw at the Etihad.

Feeling justifiably aggrieved with a merely ridiculous refereeing decision late on in the game, City must not deflect from the internal issues, as a poor display of finishing left them with just one win in their last four top-flight matches.

However, Pep Guardiola has reassured both his players and City fans during his pre-match press conference, by admitting that, “At this time, my feeling is we are going to win (the Premier League title).”

The Manchester City boss also gave a positive injury update on his squad, revealed that John Stones is now “ready” for the clash on Wednesday night, but did state that Jeremy Doku will be assessed ahead of the game, after he came off injured at the weekend.

Wednesday’s match is the first of three successive away fixtures for the blues, with Luton Town and a UEFA Champions League tie against Red Star Belgrade to follow, as Manchester City close out their group stage campaign.

Pep Guardiola will certainly be looking to steer his team back on track, with his side currently sitting in third position, and only one point ahead of Wednesday’s opponent, giving Unai Emery’s side a chance to leapfrog the champions with a victory at Villa Park.

The return of John Stones is a timely one for Manchester City, as the ever-reliable Rodri will miss the clash, as well as Aston Villa academy graduate Jack Grealish, with the pair ineligible through suspension.

Manchester City will have to fill the void left by the duo with their remaining options, and here is the side we think will be tasked with doing so and earning an invaluable three points on the road for the champions!

Predicted XI

Ederson made somewhat of a costly error in judgement to concede the first goal on Sunday afternoon, but we expect him to retain his place in goal, as per standard procedure in Premier League action.

We think Kyle Walker may be handed the opportunity to sit this one out following a run of appearances, with Manuel Akanji slotting in to the wide full-back role instead, starting on the right of a back four.

Pep Guardiola confirmed the return of John Stones to full fitness during his pre-match press conference on Tuesday afternoon, and as such we expect the England international to start at Villa Park, partnering Ruben Dias in the centre of defence.

Josko Gvardiol did not perhaps have his finest hour against Tottenham at the weekend. In a decision that could be connected to that, we think Nathan Ake will be given the nod this time around, completing the back four.

The hole left by Rodri due to suspension is gaping at the base of midfield, and while Pep Guardiola teased the idea of a Kalvin Phillips start in this one, we think Mateo Kovacic will be given a start in place of the Spaniard.

Rico Lewis may have started his Manchester City career as a right back, but the teenager has established himself as a midfielder now, and on several occasions already this season, in an attacking role.

We expect the teenage sensation to start this one, partnering Bernardo Silva in the more advanced of the midfield roles.

Phil Foden netted once again on Sunday afternoon, as the star man in attack continues his rich vein of form this season. We expect the Stockport-born playmaker to keep his place in a wider role, starting on the right of the Manchester City attack.

It’s safe to say Erling Haaland was not best pleased with the officials at the weekend. The Norway international will start this one, with the 23-year-old hopefully taking his anger out on an Aston Villa defence and their goal on Wednesday night.

Julian Alvarez should complete the starting 11, with Jeremy Doku doubtful due to an injury concern and subsequent lack of fitness and Jack Grealish being ineligible for this one as a result of a one-match suspension.

Predicted XI: Ederson; Akanji, Stones, Dias, Ake; Kovacic, Lewis, Bernardo; Alvarez, Haaland, Foden.

Substitutes: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Walker, Gvardiol, Gomez, Phillips, Nunes, Bobb, Doku.