As they prepare to face each other in Round 4 of the FA Cup, both Manchester City and Aston Villa know that their current fortunes are as far away from each other as they have ever been in the long and illustrious history of the two clubs.

While Manchester City are currently chasing surprise league leaders Leicester City from the second spot in the Premier League table, Aston Villa are rooted to the bottom spot and it looks like they may need more than a miracle for dig themselves out of the hole.

However, Remi Garde’s men would know that the FA Cup brings with it the opportunity for both the sides to start on a level field and a one-off win can knock the citizens out of the competition.

The Managers

Can all of Remi Garde’s men put Villa back together again?

Aston Villa vs Leicester CityAston Villa have been one of the bigger clubs in the history of English football. Now however, with their current predicament, it seems that they will very likely slip into the obscurity of the Championship, as their transfer policy of selling off their best players has not worked out well at all.

The fundamental problem with Aston Villa seems to be that they do not have the key leaders in their squad to guide them out of the difficult times. They also look like they could do with a regular goalscorer and good playmaker. However the main problem for Garde is to attract quality players to what already looks like a sinking vessel.

Manuel Pellegrini up for the quadruple?

Manchester City vs Crystal PalaceThere has been a lot of talk about Manchester City having enough depth in their squad to challenge for all the tournaments in which they are playing. However, this season has been testament to the fact that even they are quite reliant on certain players like captain Vincent Kompany in defence, Yaya Toure in midfield and Sergio Aguero in attack.

While the Argentine striker has still carried their attack through, the defence looks like a complete failure without the presence of their captain. In the midfield as well, Toure has started to get a little less consistent as he once was, and this may be a sign of age advancing upon an otherwise brilliant attacking midfielder. Pellegrini has been trying to give Fabian Delph that kind of responsibility and it would be interesting to see how the Englishman fares against his former side.

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Key battles

Jordan Ayew vs. Gael Clichy

Aston Villa vs Manchester CityIt is the battle of the two former Ligue 1 players, and it would be interesting to see how Ayew and Clichy match up to each other. Clichy has lost a lot of pace from his former self and this is something that Ayew can exploit, attacking the Citizens from the left flank. The Ghanaian forward has been one of the few shining lights in an otherwise horrendous season for Villa, and would relish the chance to run at the unsure Manchester City defenders during the game. On the flip side, Clichy has a lot of experience, and he would know that isolating Ayew from the rest of the team could work very well in Manchester City’s favour.

Jordan Veretout vs. Fabian Delph

Manchester City vs Crystal PalaceDelph might be a former Aston Villa player, but there will be no quarters given in this battle, as the Englishman would like to show his former team what they missed out on by selling him off. It is not just the attack where Delph would be contributing. He would also have to double back in defence, as one of the two midfield pivots, and needs to keep the likes of Veretout in check, if Manchester City want to keep their clean sheet.

Joleon Lescott & Micah Richards vs. Sergio Aguero

Leicester City vs Manchester CityOut of the defensive pairing of former Manchester City men Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott, the latter is the slower one, and Sergio Aguero would be looking to exploit this by targeting him. Aston Villa have conceded 38 goals from 23 games in the Premier League, and their defence could be in for quite a beating if they are not careful. To keep Aguero in check, Richards needs to cover for his defensive partner on the night. The problem with that though, is that there are other attacking players in Manchester City’s team, like Raheem Sterling and David Silva, who would get more space to work around with.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa Vs Manchester UnitedStrengths

  • They might not be playing too well, but Aston Villa are very good in the air, and this might just help them nick something from a set piece.
  • With the presence of Ayew, Aston Villa have a lot of opportunity to attack down the wings, which meant that they are like to send in a lot of crosses.

Weaknesses

  • Coordination is a key factor in defence is a key area where Aston Villa are lacking and they can be quite easily undone with a good through ball.
  • Finishing off the few chances that they get is also an issue for Astons Villa and that could hurt them big time in this match.

Manchester City

Manchester City vs Crystal PalaceStrengths

  • Manchester City have one of he most lethal striker in the world, in the form of Sergio Aguero, and the Argentine posses the ability to finish off even the half chances.
  • The Citizens are expected to play a possession game that would with the attacking four expected to create a lot of chances.

Weaknesses

  • The cover that the midfield pivots provide to the defence is not adequate enough, and a little bit of skillful play can help Aston Villa score the goals.
  • Manchester City’s defence falls too far back for a team that likes to play possession football, and this allows their opponents a lot of space on the counter attack.

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