Aston Villa vs Manchester City | Wednesday 21st April 2021, 20:15 | Sky Sports
An intriguing clash at Villa Park awaits as, after Pep Guardiola’s well-spoken words around the formation of the European Super League being “not sport” where ‘it doesn't matter if you win or lose', we have seemingly seen the end of the universally slammed breakaway competition – for now at least.
Given those words from their manager, as well as the end by Chelsea of the Citizens quadruple dream at Wembley on Saturday, we should see a fired-up Manchester City here.
The champions elect visit on the back of nine successive away EPL wins, despite a 5-0 win at the Hawthorns and scoring four at Anfield most of the wins have seen the opposition still in the game until at least past the hour mark.
Coupled with the Villans respectable home record which has only seen them defeated by two or more goals on three occasions (West Ham 1-3, Spurs 0-2, Leeds 0-3) we should see a keenly fought, competitive game here.
In the reverse fixture City didn’t make the breakthrough until the 79th minute and it took a 90th minute Ilkay Gundogan penalty to finally make the points safe, a game which we will remember for a stunned Dean Smith being sent to the stands for unsportsmanlike conduct by referee Jon Moss.
Having expended a fair amount of energy in chasing the equaliser at Wembley last weekend we should expect some kind of rotation here to compensate but of course with the squad depth at Pep’s disposal a high-quality line up who will, as always, dominate the ball.
An average of 60.9% sees City top the possession charts in the EPL and since Villa returned to the top flight the league leaders have enjoyed the greater share of the ball comfortably in all four matches, with 63%, 71% and 69% in the league encounters and 70% in the 2020 Carabao Cup final – so we should see a similar dominance here.
Aston Villa are a pale imitation in the absence of skipper and talisman Jack Grealish who is still a little way off a return to action so we should expect a game plan of keeping things tight and trying to hit on the break – with a defence that have conceded the third lowest total in the league that is not out of their reach.
Dean Smith’s side have picked up two or more cards in seven of their last ten fixtures, the joint highest in the league alongside our good friends Sheffield United – Man City top the cards charts over the last ten games too, but in opposition cards against them away from home, with eight of their last ten road trips having the hosts cross the two or more line.
The last three head to heads have seen Villa pick up two or more cards, with the likes of Matty Cash, Matt Targett, John McGinn and Douglas Luiz all available and having seen six or more yellow cards this season.
Referee Peter Bankes has the fifth highest booking point average in the league at 36.15, gave Villa two yellows the last time he was in charge of them (Matt Targett, Ahmed El Mohamady) and three yellows to Man City’s opponents (West Brom) the last time he officiated one of their games.
For those reasons I’m happy to put Aston Villa to have over 1.5 total cards at 1/1 with Unibet.
Aston Villa vs Manchester City – Aston Villa Over 1.5 Cards (1/1 Unibet)