Premier League: Aston Villa v Manchester City Team News

Premier League: Aston Villa v Manchester City Team News

Gerard Houllier is hoping Aston Villa’s record breaking transfer of England striker Darren Bent will reap immediate dividends when he is handed his debut against visiting Manchester City on Saturday.

Bent scored in his first appearance for former clubs Spurs and Sunderland and Houllier gave a warning to his opposite number at the press conference in midweek: “All I can say is that he has a good habit, that when he starts somewhere, he scores," Houllier said.

“Maybe a warning to Roberto Mancini and Manchester City, but if he starts, maybe he will score."

Villa’s £24 million signing moved from Sunderland in controversial circumstances during the week and is set to be pitched straight into the Villains relegation battle. Goal difference separates Villa and Wigan Atlethic for the third relegation position and owner Randy Lerner has dug deep into his pockets to help his manager find the remedy.

Bookmakers are anticipating a flood of interest in Bent’s debut performance which will be broadcast live on ESPN and Stan James have stuck their neck out by offering best odds of 7/1 for him to open the scoring. Irish bookmaker Paddy Power bets 15/8 for Bent to score at anytime and 80/1 to make his mark with a hattrick.

City arrive in fine form as Roberto Mancini’s £mega-million squad look to have gelled at last and are mounting a serious challenge to rivals Manchester United at the top of the Premier League. The Blues are unbeaten in seven games since Christmas and have put to bed their defensive-minded reputation by scoring 10 times in the last three games.

Houllier will not have forgotten his trip to Eastlands during the festive season when Mario Balotelli stuffed the Villa turkeys with a hattrick in the 4-0 drubbing in another toothless away performance. He will be relieved to know Balotelli won’t be repeating that performance as he is in America to receive specialist treatment for a knee injury.

City captain Carlos Tevez is back on song after committing his future to the club and has hit the net 4 times in the last three games, he is joint top scorer in the Premier League with 14 goals and has taken his City scoring feat to 37 in 55 games. Tevez will be joined up front by another striking sensation Edin Dzenko who is looking to get off the mark after making his debut against Wolves last weekend. Dzeko arrived at City having scores 66 goals in 111 appearances at Wolfsburg and 17 times for Bosnia & Herzegovinia in 31 international apperances.

Possible starting lineups:
ASTON VILLA: Friedel, Walker, Dunne, Collins, Clark, Young, Petrov, Makoun, Downing, Bent, Agbonlahor.
MAN CITY: Hart, Zabaleta, K Toure, Kompany, Kolarov, de Jong, Barry, Y Toure, Silva, Dzeko, Tevez.
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