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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Manchester City vs. Aston Villa

Eastlands

Wednesday 2nd March

19:445 GMT

VMC Cup Preview: City v Villa, Team Predictions

The winner of this tie will face Reading in the quarters.

Vital Quotes:

Roberto Mancini

'We have a big chance of winning something. The next 20 days are very important because we play tomorrow against Aston Villa then the following week in the Europa League. We have two options. If we win one trophy it will lead to more trophies. This is important for our team. When I accepted this job I knew it was difficult but it is a big challenge and I believe we can win a trophy.

'It is better we have all these games because it means we are still involved in every competition. Everything is important for us. But our problem is having players injured. When you play every three days you cannot work, only recover with perhaps a light session. Is it difficult motivating the players? We are tired here (in our heads) because when you play every three days and use the same players it is very difficult. This is a big problem but only this.

'It is starting to get tough. The priorities are third place and to win a cup. It is important to be in the cup competitions but it is also important that we reach the Champions League. Now Tottenham are three points behind with a game in hand and Chelsea have two. It will be hard but we are third and we should do everything to stay there.'

Gerard Houllier

'If we won the FA Cup it would be fantastic because it would mean two trophies in the same city. We will win things, I know that for sure. It is not the fact our rivals and neighbours have won something that is going to change my mind about what we are doing here.'

Manchester City Team News:

Mancini has complained about fixture congestion and the amassing numbers of injuries, but the simple fact is, that we must chug on and attempt to progress. The draw with Fulham was slightly painful, devoid of our main creative force in David Silva, we lacked impetus and drive from midfield. The number of runs made by Balotelli that went unnoticed was criminal. Thankfully, Asian Dave is back and should be risked whilst the in-form Micah Richards should also return.

Vincent Kompany has been ruled out with the hip injury sustained in the Aris win. Nigel de Jong is still sidelined but could make the bench for Wigan, AJ on the other hand could return in around three weeks time. There are still doubts surrounding the fitness of Milne, meaning he is likely to take up a place on the bench.

As for the team selection - the return of Richards will push Zabaleta out to right back with Kolarov possibly moving into a wing berth. The improving Lescott should partner Kolo in defence with Hart remaining the constant in goal. Barry and Yaya will anchor the midfield with Silva, Balotelli and Kolarov ahead. Tevez may play as the lone ranger; I think Dzeko will drop the bench after his jaded showing at the weekend. To end on a positive note I will mention that Michael Johnson will take up a place on the Berti and could get 20-30 minutes playing time.

Probable City Team:

25) Hart

2) Richards - 28) Toure - 19) Lescott - 5) Zabaleta

42) Yaya - 18) Barry

45) Balotelli - 21) Silva - 13) Kolarov

32) Tevez

Player to watch: Mario Balotelli

After what I thought was an encouraging performance against Fulham, Balotelli will be keen to add to his goal tally and link with the returning Spaniard. At the weekend, Balotelli made a host of darting runs across the backline. However, no one seemed to notice these intuitive breaks, preferring to stick with the painfully slow tempo. With the expected return of Silva, Mario should have a reliable supply line - allowing him to get in-behind Dunney monster.

Aston Villa Team News:

Like Roberto Mancini, Gerard Houiller has worrying injury problems of his own. Barker is out with concusion, Collins has a calf injury and Cuellar a hamstring strain. These absences mean that Delph may be forced to fill-in at left back with Clark moving to partner Dunne. Makoun is suspended so Bannan may get a start in central midfield. Darren Bent is cup-tied.

Probable Villa Team:

Friedel

Walker - Dunne - Clark - Delph

Downing - Reo-Coker - Petrov - Albrighton

Young

Heskey

Player to watch: Ashley Young

Villa`s top goal scorer this term has put his recent successes down to playing in a more central role. Young has enjoyed the space and freedom available in the middle of the park, opposed to out wide. He has impressed Houllier so much that he took the armband for their recent win over Blackburn.

Match Facts & Stats

This is the 158th competitive meeting of these clubs, and their third this season. Honours are even after the two Premier League clashes.

Manchester City progressed for the fifth time in their most recent clash this month five years ago. They won 2-1 in a fifth round replay at Eastlands.

City needed home replays to get past Leicester and Notts County in the previous two rounds.

Villa have not knocked out City since a 3-2 triumph in the 1938 quarter-finals.

Villa have been knocked out by Premier League clubs in nine of the last 11 occasions they have been drawn against them in the competition.

Match Prediction:

This is tricky one. There are some obvious positives ahead of this fixture - the absence of Bent, the return of Silva and the actual return of MJ. But after a very laboured performance against Fulham, in which the players looked drained due to the volume of games and mass of injuries. For me, securing a 4th place finish is of absolute paramount importance. I don't mind waiting however many more years for a cup, I'd much rather secure Champions League football and be able to attract the very best players. I just hope Mancini doesn't prioritise winning a cup, at the expense of our eventual league position come May. With Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Newcastle all out, the FA Cup represents a realistic chance of silverware. However, I think our style of play is more suited to the Europa League, meaning that I think we have a better chance of winning that competition. Admittedly, I may be worrying a little to much but the league is the most important competition for me. As for tomorrow's game, I think it will be tight. We can't afford another languid start - we must spring out of the blocks and attack Villa. Noticeably, we haven't pressed teams like we did at the start of the season. I'd like to see us pressurise Villa from the off, forcing errors. the return of Richards will boost our wide threat whilst all will be hoping Yaya can put in a good shift. All in all, it's a difficult one to predict. Villa's form has picked up of late and they have started to play more like a team. But I think if we shackle Young sufficiently, Villa will lack a goal threat without Darren Bent. Prediction: MCFC 1 - 0 Villa.

Next Fixtures:

Saturday 05th March v Wigan (H)
Thursday 10th March v Dynamo Kiev - EUROPE (A)




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The journalist

Writer: bigal84 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday March 1 2011

Time: 10:17PM

Your Comments

So our 'player to watch' is Ashley Young and you haven't put him in the predicted starting line-up? Interesting that! Guaranteed that Agbonlahor will start this game, he was rested against Blackburn.
astvil123
My mistake, miss read the line-up thought it didn't include Ash. But if their's one thing we've learnt about GH it's that you can never, ever predict the line up. Makes a very nice change for us!
astvil123
Doh! Foot in mouth moment there astvil123.;-)
bluedub
Difficult game, at least Bent is cup-tied for them. I wouldn't know what to predict as it entirely depend which City shows up, the one that could give top European sides a tough game or the one that threatens to lose to Notts County. We shall see.
StuMCFC
Hopefully Barry is benched, he never shows up against his old club. Two of his worst performances for us against Villa. Not sure about Milner, doubt he has the same connection to them as he was only there for a couple of seasons and left more harmoniously.
StuMCFC
Not sure whether Milner is fit enough to start
scragg
Milner and Barry both love Villa to be honest. Read their comments once signing for you regarding Villa. If the money wasn't offered then they would definately still be with us, especially Milner anyway. Barry fell in love with Villa and Milner loved his time at Villa and the fans actually still love him! We want him back!
astvil123
Without being harsh to your club, I think it's fair to say that you are disrupting the development of one of England's best talents. He is a central midfielder who need regular football, for the sake of Jimmy please just play him! Why spend £28m on our best player to put him on your bench, play him LM or as full back? To weaken Villa and take away competition maybe? He is not a LM or full back, RM maybe but definately a CM. Look how he played for us first game of the season, you are ruining a great prospect and I feel sorry for him (despite the fact he's a money grabbing little .... lol)
astvil123
Milner plays regularly for us, he's just been injured lately. He has 29 appearances this season, hardly a bench warmer, and depending on our cup progress we could still have around 20 games left this season. I agree he is better in the middle and has made a few more appearances there lately but the problem is no one displaces De Jong and Yaya Toure, so it is between Barry and Milner really and Mancini likes Barry in the middle for the added insurance.
StuMCFC
Which ever team wins tonight, get the hardest next round, Reading containing the City reject Matthew Mills.
Buzz Lightyear
Nice scene setter Scragg! I think we are in for a cup cracker tonight. All eyes on the City dressing room. With Vinny Ko, NDJ and of course AJ deffo out, will Silva pass his late fitness test? His presence crucial.
Johnny Baguette
Astvil, first up Milner cost £24 million( or £16 mil plus Ireland ). Do you not think that the opportunity to play for a club that has genuine aspirations to compete at the top level in Europe had any bearing on Barry or Milner's decisions? If it all about the money then I'm sure you won't be giving Darren Bent much adulation?Like Stu has pointed out Milner has been involved in most of our games this season playing mainly on the wing but also at times in the central role which I agree suits him better. I think you're well wide of the mark when you say City are disrupting his development, he has an opportunity here to play and train with some quality players which can only help in his development.
Bluedub
Bluedub, you're the sort of Man City fan that gives the rest of us a bad name, one of the recent 'new' fans of our beloved club I guess
2fishinatank
2fishinatank - what makes you say that? I've been supporting City since the late eighties.
Bluedub
I'm highly offended by that remark 2fish, if you are reading would you mind explaining to me why you feel that way, please.
Bluedub
And you are the sort of fan whose opinions aren't poarticularly welcome on Vital 2fish - if you want to diss other blues I'd suggest Bluemoon Forum is the place for you.
fifthcolumnblue
Blues, 2fishinatank is registered with Vital Villa. File under WUM.
Johnny Baguette
Don't worry Bluedub, your post was top notch... Stu, the 29 apps..... i'd say the majority of those were as a sub but I'm open to correction on that. I don't feel as though Milner has been a City regular this season. I feel like I've barely seen him play, and I certainly haven't seen him playing to his potential - this has a lot, if not everything to do with the position he's been played by Mancini. I'd love to see Yaya dropped for a game and play Milner through the middle with Silva and Balotelli on the flanks... Nige in behind. Anyone else think that would be wicked, no?
rojo2010
 

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