Wednesday, February 28, 2024
HomePremier LeagueMan City slip further: Aston Villa demystify the treble winners

Man City slip further: Aston Villa demystify the treble winners

Manchester City are treading water. In the chasing duel at Aston Villa, the champions showed a number of weaknesses, as they have done recently, looked too harmless in attack in particular and even had to let Villa pass them in the table after the 1-0 defeat. ManCity are only fourth

Aston Villa and Manchester City met for the 160th time on Wednesday. For the Sky Blues in particular, who had only won one of their last four games, the chasing duel was an important match. Coach Pep Guardiola made two changes after the emotional rollercoaster ride of the 3-3 draw against Tottenham Hotspur, bringing on Stones and Lewis for Rodri (yellow card suspension) and Doku (not in the squad).

The Villans had also drawn recently, but the 2-2 draw at Bournemouth was also their fifth successive competitive game without defeat (4-1-0). Unsurprisingly, coach Unai Emery saw little reason to make changes, with only Kamara starting in place of Zaniolo (bench).

Emery’s plan is working

Villa had only lost one of their last twelve competitive games, so they welcomed the champions with a broad chest – and quickly showed that they could take on City. The club from Birmingham shone from the kick-off with high tempo, an attentive collective and strong pressing.

Emery’s side repeatedly gained the upper hand in midfield against the visitors, who were not entirely flawless, and created more chances despite having a smaller share of the game: Digne (4), Bailey (6, 22), Konsa (29), Tielemans (33) and Douglas Luiz (41) missed some first-class opportunities.

And Manchester? Haaland had two mega opportunities within seconds of each other in the 11th minute, but failed to score first with his foot and then shortly afterwards with his head against Villa keeper Martinez. Otherwise, there was not much to see offensively from the Sky Blues, partly because they could not really cope with the aggressive pressing in the center of the pitch and consequently could not build up play with their usual confidence. In the end, the visitors, who were thoroughly disappointing at times, could even be happy that the score was 0-0 at half-time

Intensity remains, but fewer chances

It’s no secret that you can’t keep up the pace Villa showed in the first half for 90 minutes – and that was evident after the break. City got a better grip on the game in the second half, while Villa became more error-prone. As a result, despite the continued high intensity, there was a lack of attacking impetus and therefore also a lack of good finishes.

That changed in the 74th minute when Gvardiol was unable to get a grip on Bailey, who was charging halfway across the pitch, and the Jamaican was then lucky that Ruben Dias deflected his harmless right-footed shot into his own net. It was a shock for the Sky Blues, from which they never recovered. Villa could even have gone one better, but Ederson made a strong save from Douglas Luiz (78′) to keep the match open until the end – but nothing more.

After ten years and 13 unsuccessful attempts (0-2-11), Aston Villa finally recorded their first win over City since September 28, 2013 (3-2), pushing Emery’s side past the Citizens into third place. The Villans can therefore go into their next clash against league leaders Arsenal FC at Villa Park on Saturday (6.30pm) with plenty of confidence. ManCity face Luton Town the following day (3pm).



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