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UEFA’s Aleksander Čeferin put in a terrific performance on Monday afternoon when addressing the elephant in the room. He said that things always change in football and stated that Aston Villa were once a big club – and that brought joy to both Villa fans for their recognition, but also their rivals because of the qualifier that was in the past tense.
That, in a nutshell, is the good essence of football – and it just so happens that a lot of people’s poster boy club for the modern era of the sport are now being put against them midweek in a game that can really derail their slow march to the title.
Villa are overachieving due to their hard work on the training ground, a promising native of the country of the league in which they’re participating and due to a management team that combines a high-profile experienced former international and a gaffer who’s progressed up the footballing ladder.
They’re the pinnacle of an older era. And for all the traditionalists, this will be one that they’ll love to see a scalp in. But is it likely? Here’s a Bet Builder that could land you a few quid.
Losing De Bruyne really seemed to deflate the entire City performance. And that’s not taking anything away from the Chelsea effort, but there seems to be a cloud hanging over the club right now; accelerated by the loss in the semi-final, and with the news of them breaking away with the other 11 clubs, it’s not a very happy time at present.
Wednesday 20:15 – Aston Villa v Man City
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League
Villa, much like Leeds and Brighton, will carry an element of pride with them into these games as they look to issue a sucker punch, a dose of reality and a humbling defeat to the so-called super clubs. That’s hardly enough to guarantee a result, but Villa are ninth for a reason.
Much like the other games this week, a tired side who’ve had a heavy workload as they’re competing on all fronts this late in the season will either have to make wholesale changes or risk being sloppy and tired.
City have the luxury to do the former, but their second-string reshuffle is a notable drop-off from their first-teamers. A side who are build on defensive solidarity are the ones you worry about in these situations and while they’re typically flashy, the focus required to stop a very athletic, quick and well-drilled Villa frontline might not be at the peak of its powers.
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City will ultimately find the net out of the sheer amount of goalscoring threats they could introduce if things aren’t going their way. I suppose that’s the benefit of wealth. It can’t buy you happiness or respect, but it can land you a 75th-minute equaliser against Aston Villa on a Wednesday night.
The edge they’ll have will be early in the game. They’ll be sharper than City, but might not have the staying power nor the bench available to them to see out what would still be a mammoth effort.
Dean Smith will tell them to go hard in the first 45 and then try and frustrate from there. If Villa are to nab something, I suspect it’ll come from their work in the first 25 minutes.
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