Manchester City – Aston Villa Preview: City aim to strengthen grip on top spot

Manchester City will stand on the verge of winning a second Premier League title in three years with victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Liverpool’s 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace on Monday left Brendan Rodgers’ men just a single point clear at the top, meaning victory in their game in hand against Villa at the Etihad Stadium will see City leading the way heading into the final weekend of the season.
Avoiding defeat against West Ham on Sunday would then likely be enough for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, with the 2011-12 champions boasting a significantly better goal difference than Liverpool.

City arguably overcame their biggest hurdle in the run-in by battling to a 3-2 victory at Everton on Saturday, and forthcoming home clashes with Villa and West Ham will not fill many of the club’s fans with much dread.

However, Villa triumphed over City by the same scoreline when these sides met at Villa Park in September, so this match is by no means a foregone conclusion.

That said, midfielder Yaya Toure is in a confident mood ahead of the last two fixtures of what has been a fascinating season at the top of the table.

“We definitely expect to win it,” he told the club’s official website. “As a team at the top you always expect to win.

“We have worked so hard this year and if we don’t win, it would be a massive disappointment for us, for the fans and for the club as well.

“I hope we complete the job, but it depends how sharp we are, how we prepare mentally and physically.

“Our target was always to win something, but for us the League Cup is not enough.

“The Premier League was always our target, so now we need to do be at our optimum levels when Aston Villa come to our stadium on Wednesday.”

Toure will be fit for the visit of Paul Lambert’s Villa, despite coming off in the 66th minute at Goodison Park at the weekend, while Sergio Aguero moved to reassure fans on Twitter after appearing to aggravate his hamstring on Merseyside.

The pressure is off for the visitors after sealing their top-flight survival with a 3-1 victory over Hull City on Saturday.

Lambert will be under pressure though, as doubts remain over his future after another season of flirting with relegation.

Gabriel Agbonlahor (knee) is a doubt for Villa after limping off at the weekend and is the latest striker to make his way to the Villa Park treatment room, with forwards Christian Benteke (Achilles) and Libor Kozak (broken leg) already sidelined.

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