Manchester City will look to continue to draw home comfort from a disappointing season with a victory over FA Cup finalists Aston Villa on Saturday which would edge them closer to a top-four finish in the Premier League.
With City 12 points adrift of leaders Chelsea, their focus now is on ensuring they qualify for next season’s Champions League by holding off the challenge from below of Liverpool in fifth and sixth-placed Tottenham, who they play on Sunday week.
The defending champions have struggled to regain last season’s form and focus which saw City win the Premier League for the second time in three years.
But despite that, Manuel Pellegrini’s side has been beaten just twice in the league at Eastlands this season and have won their last four home games — scoring 12 goals and conceding none.
City have often had to try to prise open teams who have come with a defensive line-up in a bid to stifle the champions.
And while they have overcome that problem in recent matches, defender Bacary Sagna believes that has made life difficult for Pellegrini’s players who, he said, remained united in their pursuit of Champions League football.
“I think we’ve dropped many points this year,” said France international Sagna.
“But in some of the games we were maybe unlucky and were in a good position but we couldn’t score and it’s not easy to play in front of a wall.
“We are doing our best to get back to a winning team and to finish the season well.”