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Five Things Learned: Manchester City 4-1 Aston Villa (Premier League)



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Phil Foden’s hat-trick allowed Manchester City to grab a vital three points against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening.

After dropping points during the weekend against Arsenal, the fixture was a must-win for Manchester City, who were thoroughly outplayed by Aston Villa in December. It was arguably the squad’s worst performance under Pep Guardiola. However, the defending treble-winners made sure to take control from the start on Wednesday night.

Rodri opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Jeremy Doku’s excellent cut-back found the Spaniard making a run. It was started by Phil Foden, who played Doku through down the wing, the Belgian beat his man and drove towards the by-line to set-up the goal.

However, Villa responded immediately and Jhon Duran scored the equaliser in the 20th minute from a well-worked counter attack. 

Despite losing their lead so quickly, Manchester City continued to fight for a second and retook the lead just before half-time when Foden’s free-kick split the wall and calmly found the back of the net. 

After scoring a thrilling goal at the end of first-half, Foden grabbed his second goal in the 62nd minute when Rodri set the Englishman up, and his first-time effort left the keeper dumbfounded. 

Just seven minutes later Foden secured a third career hat-trick – Manchester City won the ball back with their press and immediately found the 23-year-old, who turned and fired a world class effort from outside of the box!

It was a dominating performance to regain the Sky Blues’ confidence before the match against Crystal Palace on Saturday. 

Here are our the Five Things Learned from Manchester City’s win over Aston Villa!

Phil Foden’s best position is through the middle

It has simply become more and more obvious with each and every match that Phil Foden should no longer be relegated to playing on the right wing. It is imperative for Guardiola to find a way to incorporate both Kevin De Bruyne and Foden into midfield.

We need this version Jack Grealish

It’s been a rough 2024 for Jack Grealish due to injuries. However, this was probably his best performance of the season. Despite the constant booing from his former fans, this was the most aggressive Grealish has ever looked on the ball in a Manchester City shirt. 

The control was still there, obviously. But there was an extra willingness to take his man on that hasn’t always been there since he signed. 

Jeremy Doku can play on the right wing

Guardiola has lamented time and time again this season that Jeremy Doku needs to improve his ability to play on the right wing. And this performance against Aston Villa will hopefully provide the Belgian with the confidence to continue to improve his playmaking and decision making in the final third, in order to make the switch there full-time.

Doku made easy work of Lucas Digne on several occasions, created a few chances, and the cut-back to Rodri for the opener was excellent. If he continues to play this well on the right then Foden will HAVE to play centrally.  

Peak Ruben Dias has returned

It’s hard to stand out as a defender in this Manchester City side, at least in a positive way. It’s very easy to see the mistakes, whether it’s a misplaced pass, lost possession or being caught out of position on the counter. 

However, Ruben Dias was immense Wednesday night. The former Benfica defender won every duel, consistently thwarted counter-attacks before they could hatch, and was solid in possession as always. It was a rough winter period for the defender but he looks back to his best. 

Justice for Rico Lewis

We are already in April and Rico Lewis has somehow only played around 60% of the minutes he had played in last season. Despite the severe lack of playing time, the 19-year-old still looks as sharp as he ever has. 

His technical ability looks to be on par with anyone else in the squad and it’s scary to think that he’s still only a teenager. Just have to hope the lack of minutes doesn’t cause him to rethink his future this summer.