Premier League

Manchester City-Aston Villa Preview

Pep Guardiola has looked to temper the rising expectations on Manchester City star Erling Haaland.

The City striker endured a difficult debut in the Community Shield against Liverpool in July, but has enjoyed a wonderful start to the Premier League season, scoring a record-breaking nine goals in his first five appearances.

That includes back-to-back hat-tricks against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, allowing City to keep up the chase with early pacesetters Arsenal at the summit of the table.

Guardiola is trying to keep perspective, however, ahead of this weekend's trip to struggling Aston Villa.

"I admire all the people that can anticipate what is going to happen in the future, I'm not able to do it," he said. "One month ago it was a disaster because of the Community Shield, now (Haaland) is going to break absolutely everything.

"I don't know what is going to happen (Saturday), so to imagine what is going to happen in one, two, three years? We are delighted because he has settled well, not just Erling but all the new players. First and foremost, the backroom staff especially, it's so important how they help to adapt, to settle quickly with the new players. It's really good and that's why it is easy, that's why it is the most important thing.

As for Villa, they managed to hold onto a key player on the final day of the window, rebuffing Arsenal's interest in former City midfielder Douglas Luiz.

Steven Gerrard finds himself under scrutiny after a run of four defeats from five matches, but he is sure Luiz will not be too disappointed by staying at Villa.

"Knowing the boy and the player, I doubt it (will be an issue)," Gerrard said. "I've got confidence he'll understand the situation and the club's decision, that we didn't want to lose a very important player and a top player so late in the window."

Aston Villa – Douglas Luiz

Luiz scored his second goal this season direct from a corner in Villa's defeat at Arsenal, and after the club kept firm in their efforts to keep him, will be hoping to show his former side what they are missing with a tenacious midfield display.

Manchester City – Erling Haaland

Haaland has scored nine goals in his first five Premier League appearances, a record for a player in their first five games in the competition. The fastest a player has scored 10 goals is six matches, set by Mick Quinn back in December 1992. He is also looking to become the first ever player to score a hat-trick in three consecutive Premier League appearances.

- Haaland has scored three goals in his two Premier League away games so far, netting twice at West Ham and once at Newcastle. Only four players have ever scored in their first three on the road in the competition – Peter Beardsley, Jürgen Klinsmann, Francesco Baiano and Alen Boksic.

- In 2022, the only current Premier League side to lose more top-flight games than Villa (13) are Everton (15). Since a run of three wins in a row in February and March, the Villans have won three of 16 league games (D3 L10).

- City remain unbeaten in their last 20 away games in the Premier League (W15 D5). In the competition's history, there have only been four occasions of a longer such run: Liverpool (21 in Feb 2020), Arsenal twice (23 in Sep 2002, 27 in Sep 2004) and Manchester United (29 in Sep 2021).

- City have scored 19 goals in their opening five Premier League matches this season, their most ever at this stage of a league season. Only twice have they scored 20+ goals in their opening six league games, scoring 21 in 2017-18 and 24 in 2019-20, both under Guardiola.

- Villa have lost 15 of their last 16 Premier League games against reigning champions, with the exception being a 7-2 victory over Liverpool in October 2020. Their seven goals in that game account for almost half the goals they have scored in those 16 games (7/15).

Updated September 2, 2022

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