Garde on Man City clash: Fast start is absolutely key this afternoon
Rémi Garde has extolled the qualities of "dedication and commitment" - and the importance of a fast start - as Villa strive for victory over Man City.
Garde is well aware of the strengths of the City side as the men from the Etihad Stadium look to get their title bid back on track.
But Garde has confidence that his players - with the necessary approach - can spring an upset over the champions.
He said: "We have to fight for the football club - to avoid something that could be very painful for everybody.
"Today we know this Man City team well. We played them in the FA Cup. It's a top team.
"They are desperate for points like us. They have dropped a little bit in the table so they can't afford mistakes. It will be difficult.
"We will have to put all our energy into it - to work hard all together as a team.
"We need a lot of dedication and commitment. That will be necessary to have a result there."
There was newspaper suggestions of a split in the claret and blue camp on the eve of the game.
But Garde - strongly denying these stories - believes the perfect response would be on the field this afternoon.
He continued: "Hopefully we will prove once again in football that there is some speculation before games, there are things in the paper - and then there is the game itself.
"Sometimes in the game itself the team that is supposed to be the weakest one is the strongest one that day. We will try to do this."
The manager also knows that a strong start is paramount in the bid for points.
He added: "When I see my team concede the first goal I see that the players are very hurt by that.
"Everything has been difficult for them since the beginning of the season - and conceding the first goal is another big blow within the game.
"I would like that we go further in the match. That would give us more confidence during the 90 minutes."
Follow our MATCH COVERAGE of Man City v Villa.