Benteke Back in Contention While Pellegrini Praises “Special” Villa Players

Aston Villa vs Manchester City Match Preview

While Villa fans will undoubtedly be reflecting on the 3-2 win last season, Pellegrini’s men are practically injury free this time around. Villa’s defensive frailties have unfortunately been exposed recently but Man City have had defensive issues of their own… it could be a good chance to put in a performance that hints at the bold vision of Tom Fox…

Lambert on Christian Benteke

“If everything goes okay tomorrow and he feels okay, then I will put Christian in the squad.

“He’s come through the last few weeks unscathed and he played for an hour on Monday in the U-21s. We will see how he is tomorrow but my intention is that he’ll be in the squad.

“First and foremost, his leg is better – his Achilles is okay. He has no ill effects on it whatsoever.”

Pellegrini on the last Villa Park clash and Villa this season

“I remember it was a game we played very well. It was very similar, though the goals were not the same, to the game against Cardiff. We couldn’t win both games. We lost both games 3-2.

“After that I think we improve a lot playing away. I hope the game we play last year in Birmingham will be a good experience and we will try to play tomorrow with 100% concentration and intensity you need to win the games.

“Aston Villa have special players and they are normally a team that puts pressure on us for 90 minutes. But we have important players too so we can react to it, try to work in attack as we always do, and concentrate more on defending because we need a clean sheet.”

Pellegrini on player criticism

“I think Sergio is 100%, maybe the same as Yaya. I don’t think you should criticise one player. Sergio has scored five goals at the moment, we know he is such a good player so he can score 10 goals, but I don’t think he is in a bad moment or not 100%. I am sure he will continue to show that this week.”

Memory Match

28th September 2013 Aston Villa 3 Manchester City 2

After a dodgy start to the campaign the second big upset of last season saw Villa somehow beat Pellegrini’s men. Thanks to a goal from El Ahmadi, a terrific free-kick from Bacuna and defensive mix-up that led to a Weimann tap-in, an unlikely three points were recorded.

Villa– Last five matches at home: W 2, D 2, L 1

Man City – Last five matches away: W 4, D 1,

Villa have won twice in the last five encounters at home to Man City.

One to Watch

Sergio Aguero – City’s top scorer this season has a good record against Villa and has scored 10 goals in his last 12 away games.

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

At the start of the season Villa weren’t scoring much but we weren’t conceding either. Villa are still struggling to have that cutting edge in front of goal (we have the fewest shots on target in the league at just nine efforts) but we’ve now conceded six goals in two games. Man City will provide another tough test for Villa’s forwards, even if Benteke is involved – we’ve failed to score in four of the last give games against them.

Any chance of replicating last season’s 3-2 win looks unlikely, and City have lost just one of their last 16 Premier League away games. After a disappointing result in the Champions League against Roma, Pellegrini will be keen for his side to increase the pressure on Chelsea with three points.

What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide

Despite seeing little of the ball against Man City last time we played them at home, we managed to stay in the game and take the few chances that came our way. This season we’ve lacked some of the more clinical performances we saw last season; if we can get the balance right the likes of Weimann and Agbonlahor can impress in Benteke’s absence. If the Belgian striker is to be involved in some capacity, lets hope he isn’t rushed back too soon and is able to gain confidence from a spell on the pitch.

Why Villa have got this game in the bag

Approaching Saturday’s game all the pressure will be on Man City, and despite their good away record they have shown some defensive lapses on their travels. City have conceded four times in their last two away games and are at risk of drifting away in the table from the league leaders. At a packed Villa Park, the expectation to win could be too much for City which could result in history repeating itself.

Villa managed to beat City without Benteke and with the likes of Clark, Luna, Baker, El Ahmadi and Bacuna all starting. None of them would make Villa’s first xi this season.