Manchester City 2-0 Aston Villa
Manchester City pushed their Premier League winning streak to six games in a row with a hard-fought 2-0 home victory over Aston Villa. The win saw the Sky Blues back in top spot for a couple of hours, until Manchester United reclaimed the lead with their win at Fulham.
Aston Villa, who were playing their first Premier League match since New Year’s due to a Covid outbreak within the club, gave City all they could handle. But City created numerous chances and eventually found a way through with a controversial Bernardo Silva goal that had Villa boss Dean Smith seething.
Highlights of the game
Pep Guardiola once again elected to start without an out-and-out centre-forward. Bernardo Silva had the task of leading the line, and he produced the first big chance just three minutes into the match.
From a City corner, Rodri’s looping header fell to Silva, who looked like he had an easy tap-in right in front of goal. But Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez made a magnificent save using his leg to deny the Portuguese forward.
Villa picked themselves right up and had a couple of promising attacks led by the returning Ross Barkley within the first 10 minutes, but neither one resulted in a shot on goal.
City were on the front foot for majority of the first half, but Villa’s impressive defence did well to keep them at bay. City were limited to shots from the edge of the box, which were deflected.
Amid City’s dominance, though, Villa were still causing some concern on the counterattack, with Barkley the primary threat.
City continued their assault on the Aston Villa goal after the break. Five minutes into the second half, Ilkay Gundogan — who has been in fine goalscoring form of late — fired a dangerous shot just over the bar. Then, Joao Cancelo broke into the box and was unlucky to hit the bar with his left-footed shot.
Guardiola surprisingly took off Kevin De Bruyne on the hour mark for Gabriel Jesus. Although, it almost paid immediate dividends as Phil Foden got behind the Villa defence and cut it back to Jesus, but the Brazilian was unable to get a shot off.
Just a couple of minutes later, Gundogan again had a great chance that he couldn’t get on target. And on the other end, Villa defensive midfielder Douglas Luiz tried his luck with a couple of long-range shots, both of which were comfortably saved by City keeper Ederson.
Meanwhile, chances continued to fall for Gundogan. His header from a corner forced another fine save from Martinez, and neither Gundogan nor Ruben Dias could bundle the ball in on the rebound.
Dias then made a crucial defensive stop to deny Villa youngster Jacob Ramsey from getting on the end of a dangerous cross.
All of City’s pressure finally paid off on 79 minutes as they took the lead through Bernardo Silva, who thumped the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Villa contested that the goal should be waved off by VAR as Rodri, who dispossessed Tyrone Mings in the build-up to the goal, was coming from an offside position. But despite their protests, the goal stood. Villa boss Dean Smith was so incensed by the decision that he got sent off for his overzealous objection.
And City sealed the win with a second goal in stoppage time. They were awarded a penalty for a Matty Cash handball, and Gundogan stepped up to get his deserved goal.
SBOTOP noted in the preview to this match that City would have the clear upper hand as they faced a Villa side that would likely be a bit rusty after not playing in a while.
What transpired was a vintage City attacking performance as they produced an impressive volume of chances against Villa. They controlled 69 per cent of possession and had 28 total shots, nine of which were on target.
Gundogan led the way with 6 shots as he continues to produce Premier League 2021 highlights in his new role in this revised City system. The German midfielder has now scored 5 goals in his last 7 appearances.
Meanwhile, City’s defence continues to look unbeatable at the moment. They have now recorded 8 clean sheets in the last 10 league games and conceded just two goals during that time. One of those goals was an own-goal and the other was a stoppage-time consolation against Chelsea.
City will be in action in the FA Cup over the weekend as they travel to Cheltenham. Then, they have a couple of very winnable games at West Brom and against Sheffield United. Needless to say, the Premier League 2021 betting odds will be overwhelmingly in the Sky Blues’ favour against those two relegation-threatened clubs.
As for Villa, they will be in league action over the weekend against Newcastle as they begin to catch up after their recent postponements. The Villans should fancy picking up a home win against a Newcastle side that’s lost three in a row and is winless in its last seven in the league.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.