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Aston Villa v Man City - Match preview

John McGinn admits Villa owe supporters and boss Steven Gerrard a performance as they prepare to welcome Manchester City and Erling Haaland.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard greets John McGinn
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard greets John McGinn

Four defeats in the first five Premier League matches has increased the heat on Gerrard and the prospect of facing the champions, now equipped with the phenomenal Haaland, appears a foreboding one.

Villa have little time to prepare with the match coming just 68 hours after Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at Arsenal but McGinn knows the pressure is on to perform.

“We need to turn it around quickly,” said the skipper. “We owe the manager a performance and the supporters a performance. We need to improve.”

McGinn admitted frustration at the manner of their defeat at the Emirates Stadium. Despite being under the cosh for the first hour, Villa hung on and gave themselves a chance at a draw when Douglas Luiz scored direct from a corner with 16 minutes to go. But Gabriel Martinelli quickly restored the home side’s advantage as Villa, for the third time already this season, were guilty of conceding within minutes of scoring themselves.

“We get the goal back and then we get punished right away. We need to be a lot less naive,” said McGinn.

“We showed much more of what we are capable of. I know that means nothing because we didn’t get a result but the application and the attitude was there. It hurts because the second goal came at a terrible time.

“We seem to be weak when we score a goal. It is something we need to improve if we are to take the club where we want to.

“If you don’t perform you get criticism and you can either go into your shell and worry or you can puff your chest out and try to do something about it. It is not going to turn overnight.

“It has nothing to do with the manager. Players are put out to do jobs and if we don’t perform those jobs, it is our responsibility.”

That may be so, yet it is Gerrard who is inevitably under the biggest scrutiny after a hugely underwhelming start.

A positive result against City would dramatically alter the mood, though the odds on Villa achieving it will be long.

The champions might not, yet, be at the top of the table but with Haaland in their ranks they already look better than the team which scored 99 goals en route to winning its fourth title in five years.

Haaland has scored hat-tricks in each of his last two matches, including a first-half treble in Wednesday’s 6-0 drubbing of Nottingham Forest, for a total of nine goals in his first five City appearances.

“I have to reset the group, regroup them for the weekend and prepare in the best possible way,” said Gerrard.

“I need to reiterate all these messages because we are playing another really good side.

“If we don’t get the details and the fundamentals right, we are going to face the same problems.”

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