Premier League preview: Aston Villa v Manchester City
Manchester City will be fighting to keep their faint title hopes alive when they face relegation-threatened Aston Villa on Saturday.
City left the door ajar for an unlikely second consecutive Premier League championship by winning their first league match in four attempts at the weekend when they downed Chelsea 2-0 at Etihad Stadium.
That result ended a terrible run for City in the premiership that saw them lose to struggling Southampton and record draws against bottom-placed Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool (at home).
But Roberto Mancini's second-placed team will need everything to go their way in the final 11 matches if they intend to defend their crown as they find themselves 12 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester United.
Anything less than a victory against Paul Lambert's men at Villa Park this week will all but shut the gate on Manchester City's premiership hopes.
But the Villans have it all to play for as well as they try to avoid being relegated from England's top flight for the first time in 26 years.
The Claret and Blue (18th on 24 points) are currently in the relegation zone on goal difference thanks to their recent track record which has seen them win just one of their past 10 league matches.
Aston Villa have earned a total of just six points in that period, although they did claim a recent win against West Ham on February 10.
Villa will also have to overcome a worrying record against City if they are to earn points with six of the last eight encounters between the two sides being won by Mancini's charges.
The heaviest of those defeats came in their most recent outing when the Sky Blues recorded a 5-0 hammering on November 18.
But this season has delivered some joy for Villa against City as they claimed a memorable 4-2 extra-time League Cup win in September.