Manchester City midfielder Fernando expects to face a fired-up Aston Villa when Remi Garde takes charge of the Premier League’s bottom side for the first time.
Leaders City enter the Villa Park clash in high spirits having extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight matches with an emphatic 3-1 Champions League win over Sevilla on Tuesday.
Fernando, who struggled during his debut season with Manuel Pellegrini’s squad but has found his feet this time around, was a key factor in the victory with a dominant display in the midfield holding role.
The Brazilian believes similar application will be required against lowly Villa, who remain winless in the league since their 1-0 opening-day triumph at AFC Bournemouth.
“Every game in the Premier League is a tough one,” Fernando told City’s official website.
“Although Aston Villa are at the bottom of the table, we know they are a team that play hard and are capable of playing very well. They are aggressive, they have a new manager, but we have to be focused in order to earn another three points.
“Based on the players they have, we know it will be a hard match and I am sure they will cause us problems, but we are aiming to play the way we know we can and win the game.”
Villa boast a significant ex-City contingent, with Micah Richards back from suspension and pushing for a start alongside Joleon Lescott and Scott Sinclair.
“They are great players with a lot of experience and they are doing their best to help their team,” Fernando added. “We will catch up with them after the game, but we are going to Villa Park for the win.”
Sinclair endured three fruitless seasons on City’s books, when he started two Premier League games and was loaned out to West Brom and Villa.
Having made his Villa Park switch permanent, Sinclair warned his team-mates of the ample quality in City’s ranks.
“It’s going to be difficult because Man City are packed with world-class players,” he told Villa’s official website.
“We know we’ll need to be at our very best against them but we are going into the game feeling positive.
“I’m sure the atmosphere will be great, our fans always get behind us and we just need to try our best to give them something to shout about.”
Former Lyon boss Garde must assess midfielder Ashley Westwood, who is nursing a head injury.
City remain without David Silva (ankle), Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri (hamstring) and Pablo Zabaleta, although Fabian Delph could be set for a feisty reception on his return to the club he left in controversial circumstances over the close season having returned from a hamstring injury.
Key Opta stats:
– Aston Villa have failed to score in five of the last seven league meetings with Manchester City.
– City have won seven and lost one of the last eight Premier League games against Villa.
– City have scored four goals from the 88th minute onwards in their last three top-flight meetings with Villa.
– Remi Garde will only be the sixth different Frenchman to take charge of a Premier League game after Arsene Wenger, Gerard Houllier, Jean Tigana, Jacques Santini and Alain Perrin.
– Yaya Toure has scored all nine penalties he’s taken in the Premier League.