Welcome back to Don't look back in anger. Aston Villa face Manchester City Sunday lunchtime, at the end of another crazy week for the club. We've seen new managers, the return of an old coach, and then on Sunday we get a visit from an old friend. What a time to be alive.
The last time we met
Last season, Villa traveled to the Etihad Stadium in the midst of a relegation dogfight. Although they failed to leave with any points, the momentum garnered in the game was enough to help Villa secure six more points, which ultimately kept them in the Premier League. This could be quite crucial this time around. It's unlikely that Villa are going to win on Sunday, but a positive showing could help Remi Garde to turn things around in the coming weeks.
Just like Villa this season, Tim Sherwood's team weren't inherently bad against Manchester City, they were just undone by moments of sheer stupidity. Three minutes in, Brad Guzan screwed up a routine clearance, giving Sergio Aguero an easy finish. It was all uphill from there as the side, particularly Guzan never fully recovered. But they fought back at least. Goals from Tom Cleverley and Carlos Sanchez pulled the game back from 2-0 to 2-2, before a late Fernandinho goal sunk the Villa.
I suppose that's all we can really ask of Villa this weekend. For fight. Sure, we may not have Tom Cleverley to score, but we have Jordan Veretout who could probably do just as well. Plus, Christian Benteke spend practically the entire game offside, that's not going to happen this time. SAYING THAT, Christian Benteke did have a goal wrongly ruled out for offside at 2-2. Combined with the fact that Aston Villa beat Manchester City 3-2 just a couple of seasons ago, there is just a tiny glimmer of optimism in me.
Snakes and Planes
I really wanted to make a snakes on a plane joke, especially after the unveiling of Remi Garde as manager was delayed because his plane was delayed. But that was because of fog and not snakes, or Fabian Delph. As an aside, it was so damn foggy on Monday here in Birmingham, it felt like something out of Silent Hill.
Now, he might be considered a snake by some, but Fabian Delph is definitely the elephant in the room ahead of Sunday. Now, the temptation is to call him out for being the snakey Judas so-and-so that he is. BUT. This is a preview of Sunday's game, and a look at Manchester City's season so far. Fabian Delph hasn't actually featured in the league for City so far this season. So with that in mind, he isn't altogether that relevant in this piece. I guess the title is a lie.
Now, Fabian Delph has slowly made his way back from injury, so he might feature on the weekend. And if he does, I recommend this:
I think on Sunday we should not boo Delph for 45 minutes then change our mind— Mark Hodson (@Hodsonm2) November 3, 2015
Manchester City this season
So Manchester City have been pretty good this year. Last year's runners up have started the season in scintillating form, winning eight of their opening eleven fixtures. New boys Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi have helped fire the two time League winners to the top of the table, helped by proven stars Sergio Aguero and David Silva among others.
City have been great yes, but there have been weaknesses. Sergio Aguero is seemingly a perennial fitness concern, and his replacement, Wilfried Bony isn't exactly setting the world alight. West Ham were able to take City apart in a 2-1 win, and once Tottenham put them on the back foot, City looked shaky. Even last week's 2-1 win over Norwich wasn't entirely convincing. Joe Hart made a howler, and they had to rely on two penalties to secure the points.
What does all this mean? Frankly, I'm not certain. It won't be easy for Aston Villa, that is for definite. Nobody expects anything from Aston Villa, also true. But Villa definitely have the right players to turn a few heads. Let's just hope that they have the right manager to do the job.