Aston Villa v Manchester City: Match preview

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Captain Ron Vlaar will return to Aston Villa's backline for their Premier League encounter with Manchester City at Villa Park tonight. Dutchman Vlaar was absent from Villa's 2-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium with a calf injury, but manager Paul Lambert will be boosted by his return to playing duty as they attempt to haul themselves out of the relegation zone.

Shay Given has recovered from a groin injury but will not replace American goalkeeper Brad Guzan and will have to settle for a spot on the bench, while England striker Darren Bent is doubtful with a foot problem.

Premier League champions Manchester City will again be without their captain Vincent Kompany, who has yet to overcome calf problems. Joleon Lescott and Matija Nastasic are expected to start in the centre of defence for Roberto Mancini's side.

Gareth Barry, who has missed City's previous two matches with an ankle injury, is fit to return to the ground where he played for over a decade.


Roberto Mancini: Manchester City players must accept responsibility


Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has called for his squad to take responsibility for their form as they aim to close to gap at the top of the Premier League.

City sit 15 points behind rivals Manchester United and their chances of retaining their Premier League title look slim, but victory at Villa Park would take the deficit to 12 points with 10 games remaining.

Mancini, who has criticised under-performing players such as Samir Nasri and Joe Hart in recent weeks, expects his side to apologise after poor results.

The Italian said ahead of tonight's game: "I say what I think and sometimes it's important that one player takes his responsibility because when you are a top player you earn a lot of money and you should play at 100 per cent always.

"When I was a player I was always took responsibility. When I didn't play well, I said, 'Sorry I didn't play well and will do my best in the next game,' and it should be like this.

"I don't like players that never think it's their fault.

"I want strong players that are upset with me when they don't play but after that show me on the pitch that they deserve to play."

Mancini also said it would be hard for his side to retain the title from their current position.

"It's difficult to win a championship here," he said. "We won last year but we won very quickly.

"Usually when you manage a team that hasn't won for 40 years, I think that you need four, five or six years to win a Premier League.

"We won the championship after two years and it's clear it's more difficult the year after, but we had the chance."

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