Premier League: Man City v Aston Villa

The last time any English side took points from City, it was Slaven Bilic’s West Brom outfit back in December, a result that saw him sacked 14 hours later. Since then, City have been perfect, and will go top of the league for the first time this season if they see off the Villans.

After a period of fixture instability thanks to a COVID outbreak at their training base, Villa haven’t played a league game since New Year’s Day, when they were beaten 2-1 at Old Trafford. Since then, their first-team has been out of action, with only what was essentially Villa’s under-18’s losing 4-1 in the FA Cup to a full strength Liverpool.

As a result of the extended break, Dean Smith has few injury concerns ahead of the trip to Manchester, with Ross Barkley training ahead of the game and expected to feature. Brazilian striker Wesley is closing in on a return but will likely miss out, while Trezeguet has had COVID issues and isn’t available either.

Anwar El Ghazi has been in fine form recently and should be available after a knock, while Bertrand Traore is also expected to be OK. Smith will need as many players as possible with a run of six games in 18 days coming up.

Manchester City have been full of goals despite having striker issues recently, and will be without Sergio Aguero once again when Villa come to town. The Argentine is still isolating after contact with a COVID positive person recently, with Saturday’s game against Cheltenham a potential return date.

Aymeric Laporte is back in training after a thigh injury, but Guardiola confirmed he won’t be part of the squad, but Eric Garcia could return. Nathan Ake is also missing but closing in on a return.

That all means John Stones and Ruben Dias will continue at centre-back, and look to build on their incredible run of form recently. The pair have only conceded one goal in their last five games, and Stones has even chipped in with three goals as he rediscovers the form that caused City to pay £50m for his services.

As mentioned, City will go top of the league if they see off Villa, providing Leicester don’t beat Chelsea by more than four goals on Tuesday night.

Villa have three games in hand on all of the top half of the Premier League, and the table is so congested that if they manage to win all three, they’ll be second when the table levels out.

Manchester City take on Aston Villa on Wednesday, January 20th. Kick-off is at 6pm.

Premier League: Manchester City v Brighton

Pep Guardiola enjoyed the luxury of rotating some of his top players in a comfortable win over Birmingham City in the FA Cup at the weekend, but should welcome the likes of Ederson, Raheem Sterling and John Stones back to the starting XI.

Sterling was nursing a slight knock when Birmingham were swept aside, but should make it for the visit of Graham Potter’s Brighton, who Guardiola said were a “joy to watch” in his press conference on Tuesday.

Whether or not Brighton fans would agree or not is debatable, with the club sitting 17th in the table after almost a third of the season, with their possession-based approach clearly not leading to enough results so far.

One of their main issues has been scoring goals, and they struggled again in the FA Cup, needing a 90th minute strike from Solly March against Newport County, before edging a nervy penalty shootout to progress to the fourth round.

Neal Maupay has scored two in his last three Premier League games though, and has declared this week that his confidence is back after a 649-minute goal drought. He’s likely to play in the absence of Danny Welbeck against the league’s most in-form defensive partnership of John Stones and Ruben Dias, fresh from a clean sheet against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup semi-final last week.

Adam Lallana, Tariq Lamptey and Aaron Connolly will all miss the game through injury, while Alireza Jahanbaksh will be assessed closer to kick-off. Polish midfielder Jakub Moder has joined the squad after spending the first half of the season on loan at Lech Poznan, and could make the bench.

Guardiola is without Sergio Aguero once again for the visit of the Seagulls, as he continues to isolate after being in contact with a COVID-positive person recently. Eric Garcia is in the same situation as the Argentine striker, while Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake are both injured.

As this is City’s game in hand left over from the start of the season, a win will see them close the gap on Liverpool to a single point and go above Leicester City in the top four. Brighton need the points to move further away from the relegation zone, having played two games fewer than Fulham, who are three points below them.

Manchester City take on Brighton on Wednesday, January 13th. Kick-off is at 6pm.

Premier League Preview: Everton v Manchester City

The Toffees have enjoyed a brilliant run of form so far in December with four successive wins going into this clash.

Carlo Ancelotti has opted to for an alternative defensive unit in recent weeks, and despite the return to fitness of captain Seamus Coleman, he’s set to stick with his current back four.

Allan, Lucas Digne and Richarlison will all miss visit of Pep Guardiola’s side with Bernard, Tom Davies and Andre Gomes in line to rotate in.

Guardiola’s visitors go to Goodison one the back of ten games unbeaten in all competitions, but the Spaniard is still likely to shuffle his pack.

Ruben Dias will continue to cover for Kyle Walker at right back, with Fernandinho replacing the injured Rodri in midfield, and Sergio Aguero returning for his first start since October.

And it’s a late start on Merseyside for this one with 8pm Kick Off at Goodison Park.

Premier League: Manchester City 2-0 Newcastle United

Gundogan put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead on a wet Boxing Day night after fine work from Raheem Sterling with 14 minutes gone at the Etihad Stadium.

Torres added the second early in the second half and Bernardo Silva struck the post as City, who face a trip to Everton on Monday, eased to victory.

Both sides were without key players following positive Covid-19 tests, with City’s Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker following Newcastle pair Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles into self-isolation.

Not surprisingly, it was star-studded City who coped with the absences better. Again manager Pep Guardiola saw no need to rush record goalscorer, Sergio Aguero, into his starting line-up, naming the Argentinian on the bench as he eases back into action after knee trouble.

Steve Bruce tried to shake his Newcastle side up after their Carabao Cup quarter-final loss to Brentford. Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar, Joelinton and Matt Ritchie came in while Callum Wilson was on the bench and Jonjo Shelvey was left out altogether.

With the win, Pep Guardiola’s side climb to 5th in the league table on Monday night whilst Steve Bruce’s Newcastle remain just shy of mid-table in 12th.

Premier League Preview: Manchester City v Newcastle United

Pep Guardiola’s side have quietly been rediscovering their best form in the last month and the Spanish boss finally looks to have hit on winning formula this season.

However, despite being in the middle of their best run of the campaign, the demands of a packed schedule means he will be forced to rotate against the Magpies.

Pep’s defence should stay the same over the festive period but the returning Fernandinho, Phil Foden and Sergio Aguero could be drafted in.

As for Newcastle, Steve Bruce will continue to wing in terms of his line up with a Covid-19 outbreak at the club still forcing his selection.

Key pair Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamal Lascelles remain sidelined due to the virus.

But Federico Fernandez and Jamal Lewis should shake off knocks in time to start.

And Kick Off is a late one on Boxing Day with an 8pm start at the Etihad Stadium.