The champions have drawn their last three in the league and have dropped to third place, three points behind leaders Arsenal. City have also conceded 10 goals in the last four games in all competitions and Pep Guardiola admitted last week that his side must start defending better.
“When you have long balls you have to win the duels, you have to be strong there and we were not,” he said after the comeback win over RB Leipzig. “We made individual mistakes and individually we were sloppy, and at that level there is no chance. Maybe for the future it is good to win in that game, not comfortably, to realise, look in the mirror and say we must do better.”
Defending well will be particularly important against a Villa side who are rampant at home. Unai Emery’s men have won the last 13 league matches at Villa Park and currently sit fourth, despite dropping points away to Bournemouth last weekend. In fact, a win for Villa would see them leapfrog City in the table.
Therefore, it could prove to be one of City’s toughest away assignments of the season, and their chances of securing three points won’t be helped by suspensions to key players. Rodri and Jack Grealish both picked up their fifth bookings of the season in Sunday’s 3-3 draw against Tottenham Hotspur, meaning they have incurred automatic one-match bans.
With Jeremy Doku and injury doubt and John Stones potentially having to be rushed back, it means City aren’t particularly well prepared for such an imposing challenge, and Guardiola may have to make a few changes to his starting XI.
Here’s how we think City will line up in Wednesday’s trip to Villa...