MAN CITY meet Aston Villa on Wednesday night at The Etihad. Brett Curtis (@Brett_Curtis92) is on-hand to deliver his favourite fancies.
Manchester City vs Aston Villa | Wednesday 20th January 2021, 18:00 | BT Sport
Manchester City can move top of the Premier League with a win here, albeit perhaps temporarily with their rivals Manchester United playing at Fulham later in the evening.
Aston Villa, meanwhile, are set to play in their first league game since the 2-1 loss at United on New Years' Day after a COVID-19 outbreak in the squad. Nine players were reported to have tested positive for the virus, although Trezeguet is the only confirmed first team player to have been among them, with most of Villa's key players pictured returning to training on Monday.
Crucially, one man who was among them was Jack Grealish; with the 26-year-old undoubtedly in n the form of his career, Villa always have a chance in games. The England man is by far the most fouled player in the league, which makes Joao Cancelo's odds of 7/2 (Sky Bet) very appealing given that he leads City's tackles and fouls per game and has been carded three times in his 12 league starts this season.
Cancelo tends to tuck inside from his nominal right-back position when City have possession to effectively become a second holding midfielder alongside his doppelganger Rodri, who also appeals at 4/1 (bet365).
With Grealish drifting between the lines, but generally with more of a left-side bias, he is likely to find himself ghosting past Cancelo on several occasions.
However, Pep Guardiola could choose to go with Cancelo at left-back instead of Oleksandr Zinchenko, with Kyle Walker at right-back, in which case the England man's odds of 8/1 (bet365) look massive. It's one to keep an eye on until the team news, but if Cancelo starts at right-back, he's my man.
Something to bear in mind with regards to cards, though, is that Jonathan Moss officiates the game, with the 50-year-old only showing an average of 2.70 cards per game this season.
However, given that Grealish is the most fouled player in the league and Villa are the most fouled team in the league, I'm still surprised to receive odds of 4/5 (bet365) for each team to receive a card given the amount of attacking talent and tactical fouling likely to be on display. The same bet is only 4/11 with Sky Bet, for example.
I also think Manchester City to receive the Most Booking Points at 9/4 (Sky Bet) is a good price given that Villa are likely to be the side spending most of their time counter-attacking. In their recent games against top six opposition, United had four cards to Villa's zero, with Chelsea picking up three to Villa's one.
Lastly, providing he starts, I'm backing Ilkay Gundogan to have a shot on target once again at 11/10 (Betfair). This has landed in City's last six games, with the Germany midfielder scoring a cracker against Crystal Palace at the weekend and likely to be full of confidence.