Aston Villa-Manchester City Preview
Manchester City will seek to avoid another shock home defeat against Aston Villa on Saturday when the sides meet for the second time this season at the Etihad.
Villa eliminated City from the Capital One Cup in September and joined Manchester United and Liverpool as the only sides to win a competitive match at the Etihad Stadium this calendar year.
The Birmingham side will be facing Manchester opposition for the second consecutive week having led United 2-0 at home last Saturday before succumbing to a 3-2 defeat.
"I thought the performance against Manchester United was a good indicator of where we're heading," goalkeeper Brad Guzan told the club website. "I think it's a sign of good things to come. We want to create something special and the manager (Paul Lambert) wants to do that too.
"I feel the pieces of his jigsaw are starting to be put in place. It will take time but we're on the right road definitely. That's starting to show. Everyone watching could see what we're all about - desire, determination and a real attacking philosophy."
Villa (2-3-6) are just three points above the drop, but Guzan insists his side is on the right path under manager Lambert.
"We will continue to grow and build under the gaffer. We're improving all the time. We're starting to create an identity for ourselves as a team under the manager. It's exciting times ahead."
Undefeated in the league, Manchester City (7-4-0) will have the opportunity to retake first place with a win, at least for a couple of hours until neighbours United travel to Norwich in the evening kick-off.
Despite the strong play in the Premiership, manager Roberto Mancini has been criticised for his team's sub-par performances in the Champions League - his reaction essentially conceding his team won't progress from the group after a 2-2 draw Nov. 6 with Ajax - followed by scraping out a 2-1 victory Sunday over Tottenham on Edin Dzeko's goal in the 86th minute.
It was the sixth goal as a sub for Dzeko, who has a team-high seven in 16 matches over all competition.
"It shows our character that we are strong even when we are losing," Dzeko told the team's official website. "After the Spurs goal, I think we played better and were the better team over 90 minutes so we deserved three points in the end."
Mancini will be hoping this match keeps the status quo for Manchester City at home. Going into Saturday, City have won 28 of their last 30 matches, with two drawn, at Etihad dating back to March 2011. They have gone 46 Premier League matches at home without a defeat since losing to Everton in December 2010.
In contrast, Aston Villa have won just three of 27 Premier League matches since Feb. 1, scoring a total of 21 goals in that time. The Citizens have scored 20 already this season.
This will be the 162nd meeting between the sides in all competitions, with City owning 65 wins to Villa's 56. There have been 40 draws in a fixture that dates back to October 1899.
City claimed all six points last season, cruising to a 4-1 win at the Etihad behind goals from Mario Balotelli, Adam Johnson, Vincent Kompany and James Milner. Stephen Warnock scored the consolation for Villa. City snuck a 1-0 win at Villa Park, where Joleon Lescott scored just after the hour mark.