Aston Villa vs. Manchester City: A Q&A with Bitter and Blue

Alex Livesey

Nayir Chowdhury of SB Nation's Manchester City blog stops by to answer some questions ahead of Saturday's match.

7500 to Holte: Despite the fact that the early days of City's big spending began under Mark Hughes, it's reasonable to say that the new era truly began under Roberto Mancini. Now that those days are over, what's the general feeling about Manuel Pellegrini?


Bitter And Blue: City fans have definitely taken a liking to Pellers so far, both for the person he is and his tactics. Though we all loved Mancini, it was undeniable that he wasn't the best at handling the players and took a strict, colder approach towards man management. Pellegrini has been quite the opposite and the players seem to enjoy playing for him. It'll take a bit more time to truly analyze and appreciate his tactics, though I can't complain with what he's given us so far.

The two biggest issues that needed to be addressed for City were width and a running mate to complement Yaya Toure in the middle of the park, and Pellegrini has made that a point of emphasis with the additions of Jesus Navas and Fernandinho. Both have been a huge hit so far along with Alvaro Negredo (a signing that much of the media seemed confused by) so all the credit has to be given to the new manager- he knows what he's doing, so far. I think the barometer for Pellegrini is the Champions League, so we'll see how that goes.


75k: Yaya Touré was already terrifying enough when he was one of the world's best midfielders; now he's scoring goals like they're going out of style. Is this form anywhere near sustainable?


BB: This was the big question for Toure last season. He wasn't banging in the goals in style like he is right now, but his overall game was in flux. He would give City some world class performances in which he dictated the entirety of the match, and then the following game he would disappear into the shadows and not be anywhere near as effective. Part of this likely had to do with finding the right central midfield partner for him. While Gareth Barry was a very consistent, good player for City over the years, his aging legs did not do well to complement Toure's apparent lack of desire to track back and cover the back four at times last year.

This season, Toure has given us mostly fantastic outings with a few 'meh' ones in between. The striking difference between these performances were the roles Pellegrini gave both him and Fernandinho; when deployed deeper, Toure just isn't as effective. But, when Fernandinho sits in the hole in the supporting defensive midfielder role and Toure is given license to roam around rampaging forward, he is at his best. So, if the tactics are right, Toure can continue this hot start. The free kicks have been a welcome surprise, though.


75k: This is a self-indulgent question, but I'll ask it anyways; does James Milner have a place of consequence on this squad?


BB: Milner is an interesting one. His first season at City was average, but since then he's been generally good and City fans really appreciate his work rate. He's been involved in some of our biggest wins over the years (particularly the derbies, when it's all about who wants it more) but with the addition of Fernandinho and a (hopefully) healthy Jack Rodwell this season, it's likely that Milner gets less playing time.

He can be played in advanced positions too, but the arrival of Navas and rebirth of Samir Nasri don't help him there either. Ultimately, I still think he will play an important role in the squad. Injuries are inevitable with a schedule as large as ours and even despite that, Milner should still get a run of games in here and there. I do feel bad for him as he might be the odd one out with rotation, but he is a professional and will carry on and take his chance when he gets it.As a sidenote, if anyone hasn't seen the parody @BoringMilner twitter account, definitely check it out. It's hilarious.


75k: Anything that might have flown under the radar that we should know about ahead of the game? Injuries, position battles tactical shifts; pretty much anything unlikely to be heavily covered by the media that might be of interest to the hard-core fan.


BB: These days it seems like the media covers just about everything regarding City, but there are a few players returning from injury that might have gone under the radar: Micah Richards and Gael Clichy. I don't expect either to start, as both returned to action in the midweek Capital One Cup tie, but Clichy may get his starting spot back from Kolarov, who has surprisingly played quite well in Clichy's absence. Sergio Aguero is also injured, which I'm sure is a relief for Villa's defenders. David Silva is still out, but that's okay for now with Samir Nasri in great form for a change. Other than that I can't think of anything. I'd expect City to roll with the same lineup that annihilated United last weekend, with Stevan Jovetic probably stepping in for Aguero.

75k: Predictions for the game? Don't hold back, we're all expecting to get beat pretty soundly.

BB: I'm going to go with 0-2 to City. I think the back four will hold strong and the loss of Benteke helps there too. This is the right moment for City to reverse our poor away form, which is what's holding me back from giving City a few more goals in prediction. If the players are up for the match, we should take this one convincingly. 

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