The Sky Blues, who thrashed Nottingham Forest 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, will have the opportunity to move to the top of the Premier League table with a win at Villa Park. Erling Haaland scored a second consecutive hat-trick in midweek, netting three times in the first-half. Joao Cancelo and Julian Alvarez were also on the scoresheet, with the latter scoring two second-half goals. Wednesday’s victory came five days after a stunning 4-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace, as Guardiola’s side bounced back from 2-0 down. City travel to Birmingham on Saturday, to face a Villa side who have lost four of their opening five Premier League matches. Guardiola saw his side dramatically come back from 2-0 down to seal the title with an incredible 3-2 win the last time the Champions played Steven Gerrard’s side. Haaland has now scored a record nine goals from his opening five Premier League matches, with the Norwegian looking to hit double figures at Villa Park this weekend.
It remains to be seen whether Jack Grealish will feature against his boyhood club, after the 26 year-old swapped the Midlands for Manchester in 2021. Ahead of this weekend’s clash, here is how fans across the world can tune into the action! Pep Guardiola’s side will be full of confidence after a dominating performance against Nottingham Forest last time out, and will be hoping to replicate that against Aston Villa on Saturday. Steven Gerrard is under pressure, so the game won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination. We here at City Transfer Room have all the team news you need for both sides below. Manchester City will aim to return to the top of the Premier League table – for 24 hours at least – when they make the trip to take on Aston Villa on Saturday evening. The champions put six past Nottingham Forest without reply in midweek, while Steven Gerrard’s side went down 2-1 to early pacesetters Arsenal.
Steven Gerrard can take solace in the fact that he will not be the first managerial casualty of the Premier League season – that unwanted honour belongs to Scott Parker – but the 42-year-old has admitted that he is fearing for his future in the Villa hotseat. How the Lions were not blown out of the water by Arsenal in the first half of Wednesday’s contest remains a mystery, with only Gabriel Jesus’s goal separating the two sides at the midway point, and Villa threatened to end the Gunners’ perfect start through Douglas Luiz’s direct corner goal before Gabriel Martinelli hit back less than three minutes later. While Villa demonstrated a greater sense of urgency in the second 45 minutes, the scoreline certainly flattered Gerrard’s men, who have now suffered three straight Premier League defeats – all to London clubs – and can only boast three points from a possible 15 so far.
Such dismal fortunes leave the Lions below the dotted line in 19th, and while there is still a lot of football to be played in the coming months, the early signs of discontent can be heard across the West Midlands as Gerrard desperately tries to find the formula to best the champions. Now without a clean sheet in 10 Premier League matches dating back to April’s 2-0 victory over Norwich City, Villa’s defensive frailties could certainly be exposed by City’s in-form marksman Erling Braut Haaland, whose name has already been etched into the history books.Newly-promoted teams visiting the Etihad Stadium is almost always a recipe for success for Pep Guardiola’s side, whose towering talisman Haaland once again saw very little of the ball but ended up taking it home with him after a second successive hat-trick.
The 22-year-old had three strikes to his name by the 38-minute mark on Wednesday night – setting a new record for the most goals scored in a player’s opening five Premier League games with nine – before fellow new signing Julian Alvarez bagged a brace on his first Premier League start, and there was time for Joao Cancelo to get in on the act with a cracking finish. With Liverpool faltering in the early stages of the new season, only Guardiola’s former student Arteta has managed to glean more points with his side in their opening five games, and City’s 13 points sees them sit two behind the table-topping Gunners, who are not in action until Sunday against Manchester United. The Citizens have continued their theme of scoring at least twice in a Premier League match to rack up a league-leading 19 in total so far this term, and not since March’s goalless draw at Crystal Palace have City not found the back of the net at least twice in the top flight – a remarkable streak of 14 matches.
Now aiming to make it 18 games unbeaten in the Premier League, Man City could only win 2-1 at Villa Park last term before the final-day drama that unfolded at the Etihad, as Gerrard’s side failed to hang on to a 2-0 lead and ultimately lost 3-2 before the title celebrations commenced. The luxury of a near fully-fit squad did not benefit Villa at the Emirates, and Gerrard did not pick up any fresh injury concerns on Wednesday night, leaving long-term absentee Diego Carlos on his own in the treatment room. Amid links with a deadline-day switch to Liverpool, Luiz’s eye-catching equaliser direct from a corner led to calls for the Brazil international to start over John McGinn, and he should certainly be in with a chance of forcing his way back into the first XI. Leon Bailey was one of the bright sparks of Villa’s defeat to the Gunners and will expect to hold his place in the forward line, and Emiliano Martinez is in no danger of losing his place in goal despite failing to cover himself in glory for both of Arsenal’s goals.
In contrast, City boss Guardiola was without a number of players for the 6-0 thumping of Nottingham Forest and will continue to make do without Aymeric Laporte until the end of September or the start of October. In brighter news, Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish and Nathan Ake could potentially return from shoulder, knee and groin injuries respectively to make themselves available, while Manuel Akanji will likely be confirmed as a City player before the weekend. Any debut for the Swiss centre-back is sure to come from the bench, while Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez will both aim to return to the first XI in place of Bernardo Silva and Alvarez, but Guardiola does have the imminent Champions League showdown with Sevilla to keep in mind.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; Luiz, Kamara, Ramsey; Bailey, Watkins, Buendia
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Gomez; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Haaland, Alvarez