Roberto Mancini’s sides have been in irresistible form during the early stages of the Premier League season and are only being kept below neighbours United by goal difference. Despite the shadow cast by Carlos Tevez and his petulant behavior in Munich last month the Citizens haven’t let it affect their performance. They thrashed lowly Blackburn 4-0 before the international break and back on home soil against Villa they’ll be hoping for a similar score line this week. They’ll have to do it without their record signing though with Sergio Agüero sidelined with an abductor strain. The arrival of the Argentinian has turned City into real title contenders and it will be interesting to see how they fare without him. That could mean Mario Balotelli starts again after his virtuoso performance against Rovers two weeks ago. The broody Italian’s display will have encouraged Mancini and given him to confidence to rely on Balotelli when needs be. With David Silva and Samir Nasri also in fine form the City boss has plenty of attacking options capable of ending Villa’s unbeaten run.
The Midlands side have started surprisingly well under new boss Alex McLeish and have yet to taste defeat in their opening seven league games. Despite five of them being draws the Villa defence has been tightened up by the Scot who has also got Gabriel Agbonlahor firing on all cylinders. The Birmingham born striker has struck four goals already this season after finding the net only five times in the previous campaign. His partnership with England striker Darren Bent is blossoming and McLeish will be delighted with the pair’s goal return. The emergence of Barry Bannan has also been a highlight and Villa will need his guile and razor sharp passing skills if they are to unlock a City defence that has conceded only five goals this term. They should also pay attention to the fact they’ve failed to win at the Etihad Stadium since snatching a 1-0 victory back in 2007 with last seasons corresponding fixture seeing them ship four without reply.
Samir Nasri – The Frenchman has settled into the squad with ease since his summer move from Arsenal and has been at his creative best since pulling on a City shirt. He tops the assists table with six already this season and will be a major threat to Villa down the flanks.
Gabriel Agbonlahor – Four goals already this campaign and some energetic performances has seen Villa fans demand an England recall for the striker. His pace and willingness to run into the channels will be vital to the Villan’s chances on Saturday.