Manchester City set out to continue their hot streak of form this weekend as they travel to take on Dean Smith’s Aston Villa. Pep Guardiola’s men are on a run of four games unbeaten, and come into Sunday’s clash off the back of a highly-impressive 3-1 victory at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup Semi-Final First-Leg.
This time round, it’s a very different proposition, with Aston Villa struggling towards the foot of the table, and securing just two wins in their last six games in all competitions. Ahead of this one, we spoke to Dan Bardell of the Athletic and the Villa View, to get his thoughts on a number of notable talking points.
Dan, thanks for joining us ahead of Sunday’s game! Douglas Luiz has been the most recent direct connection between the two clubs facing off this weekend in terms of playing personnel. It’s been spoken about on numerous occasions amongst the City faithful, but do you feel Luiz has the quality to one day return to the Etihad Stadium?
I think he’s got really good attributes, but in a side that’s struggling, I think he has defensive weaknesses that get exposed. I’ve no doubt if you put him in your side, he would do very well. That’s my main problem with the deal. As soon as he shows signs of hitting the top level, he will be back with you. Pep Guardiola obviously rates him!
Currently for me, he wants too much time on the ball and he over complicates things on occasion as well. Saying all that, he’s young, he’s learning and I like the fact he never hides!
On the topic of current Aston Villa players featuring in a Manchester City starting XI, which current Villa member would best fit within the Guardiola system?
Jack Grealish. The lad could play for anyone in the country – he’s that good! Tyrone Mings would genuinely improve your backline as well. John Stones gives me a heart attack when he plays for England, and I genuinely think the way your defence has been left is negligible!
Following the season he’s had so far, do you believe Jack Grealish will be on the plane for EURO 2020 with the rest of the England squad?
If he isn’t, then he should be! There is no English midfielder like him. His numbers are there this season, and he is a joy to watch. He’s a player that when he does play for England, the whole country will fall in love with! A big statement, but he’s the best player I’ve ever seen in an Aston Villa shirt, and I’ve had a season ticket since 1994!
The transfer window is well and truly underway, but who is the one striker you’d want at Villa Park to hopefully save your season? Former Manchester City forward Wilfried Bony is available on a free…
I’d have Christian Benteke back – totally wasted at Crystal Palace. They don’t actually play to his strengths at all. I’m convinced he’d fire if he came back to B6!
Wilfried Bony – what a signing that was!
Who is the biggest loss ahead of the weekend’s clash – Tom Heaten OR John McGinn?
You’d have to say John McGinn – irreplaceable. I love Tom Heaton as well. Nyland has done well in his absence to be fair, but John Mcginn is one of a kind – we aren’t going to get anyone in who can do the things he can!
We don’t have the depth to be without a game changer like him and there is nobody with a more effective derrière in football. If you’ve watched him, you’ll know what I mean!
How do you see the weekend’s game going?
We’ve firmed up since going three at the back – a lot more resolute, which is something we’ve struggled with all season. If you’re on song, you’ll be sure to best us. However I don’t think you’re the same side as the last few years.
If we had a striker I’d be more confident, but at this current time we don’t. I think Kevin De Bruyne will be too good for us. 1-3 unfortunately!
You can follow our guest here: @DanBardell