City to take no pity on struggling Villa
Aston Villa v Man City | 17:30 Live on ESPN
January is normally a month for fiscal prudence, the time of year when the average man is tightening his belt after the over spending at Christmas. Frugality is not a word that you would associate with Manchester City these days and surprisingly, not with Aston Villa in this January transfer window.
The Villans will hand home debuts to £18 million signing Darren Bent and £6 million midfielder Jean Makoun, whom they signed from Lyon earlier in the window. City may have made just the one acquisition but at £27 million Edin Dzeko is by far the most expensive signing thus far.
Bent, Makoun and their new Villa team mates will be looking to put an end to a n awful run of form that sees them win only one of their last ten league matches and slide down the table into seventeenth position, ominously hovering above the relegation zone on goal difference alone. By kick-off at Villa Park though, despite how unthinkable and improbable it may be, Villa could be bottom of the Premier League table.
Manchester City and Aston Villa squared up against each other less than four weeks ago at Eastlands. The memory of that match will be raw in the minds of Villa players and fans alike as they surrendered meekly to City, accepting a 4-0 defeat without as much as a whimper. The hat-trick hero that day, Mario Balotelli, will be absent for this game for City but with such a plethora of talent on their books I doubt they'll miss the Italian too much.
Since that match City have collected seven points from three league games and progressed through to the FA Cup fourth round as well. City's title charge is well and truly in motion as they occupy second place going into the weekend's games. However, their usually watertight defence has shown more leaks than a dodgy tap in the last two games, conceding three against lowly Wolves and two against Championship Leicester.
Manchester City have only lost two of their last 18 league and cup meetings with Villa and it is no surprise to see them installed as favourites at 23/20 to win the game.
Villa are priced at 12/5 to win the game but considering that the Villans have beaten City at home just twice in 13 Premier League encounters at Villa Park, you'd be hard pushed to back them here.
William Hill's match winner offers for this game are centred around the big name signings for both teams. Both offers are wincasts, for Darren Bent to score and Aston Villa to win you'll get 5/1 while you can back Edin Dzeko to score and Man City to win at odds of 5/2.
Other possibilities for the first scorer markets surely point to City's captain and talisman Carlos Tevez. The Argentinian hitman can be backed at 4/1 to open the scoring and even money just to score at anytime. Tevez showed his class and predatory instincts with two goals against Wolves last weekend and a sterling effort against Leicester in midweek.
For the home side, Gerard Houllier will be hoping that the arrival of Darren Bent will relieve the pressure on Gabriel Agbonlahor and allow the forward to recapture his form of 18 months ago. Agbonlahor seems to have lost a bit of his confidence in that time but his pace and movement are still a major threat and could be worth the gamble at 15/2 first scorer, 9/4 anytime.
With over 500 Villa games between them, James Milner and Gareth Barry will be no strangers to the surroundings of Villa Park. If you fancy either to mark their return with a goal, you can get 5/1 for Milner and 6/1 for Barry in the anytime goal scorer market.
Man City/Man City Double Result @ 21/10
City to keep a clean sheet @ 21/10