Dubai: Manchester City are currently in the most turbulent period of their 143 year history having been charged by the Premier League for breaching more than 100 Financial Fair Play rules relating to sponsorship income, revenue and operating costs.
If found guilty City could be hit with points deductions, a fine, transfer ban or relegation. Coach Pep Guardiola will have to somehow get his players to focus on matters on the pitch rather than off it when they host Aston Villa in the Premier League clash on Sunday. The Spaniard will want to get back to winning ways having lost 1-0 against Tottenham Hotspur last time out.
City have denied all allegations but there will have been a somber mood at the training ground this week and it will be up to Guardiola to get his troops ready for Villa and pick up a much needed three points to keep the pressure on current league leaders Arsenal.
The reigning champions failed to take advantage of the Gunners’ slip-up at Everton last weekend but with home advantage they will fancy their chances against Unai Emery’s men who lost their last match 4-2 against Leicester.
Emery had made a positive impact since he took over from Steven Gerrard until the unexpected defeat last weekend where they missed the chance to go above Chelsea and Liverpool into the top half.
They have won their last three away matches and will hope to keep that run going at the Etihad Stadium and will be boosted by the fact City will again be without defender John Stones. The centre back could be the only absentee as Phil Foden should have recovered from illness.
Guardiola may give Kevin De Bruyne a starting role having only named him on the bench against Spurs while Ilkay Gundogan is also expected to be recalled to the side.
Mahrez on form
Riyad Mahrez has been one of City’s most dangerous players this season and will likely start on the right with Jack Grealish lining up against his old club on the left.
Villa are still without Jed Steer and Diego Carlos and could be missing Ashley Young but Bertrand Traore is back in training and could feature.
City are a wounded animal at the moment and though their off field events have threatened to derail their season they still ought to have too much for Villa. If Mahrez, Grealish, De Bruyne and Erling Haaland shine then Villa could be on the wrong end of a hiding.