Manchester City’s run of three straight Premier League draws ended in the worst possible way, as an atrocious showing saw the excellent Aston Villa deservedly win.
In keeping with City’s recent struggles, the home side started the better of the two squads, and Ederson was called into action to impressively deny Leon Bailey and Pau Torres within the first five minutes.
Manchester City then found a foothold in the match and should have taken the lead, with Erling Haaland drawing a top double save from Emiliano Martinez from a pair of close-range efforts in the 10th minute.
Aston Villa remained a threat with their quick breakaways though, and Leon Bailey again asked a question of Ederson after 20 minutes, this time from range. The opening half-hour most certainly belonged to the hosts, and their best chance yet went begging when Ezri Konsa looped a free header over the bar from Douglas Luiz’s free-kick, with Bailey once more shooting waywardly soon after.
Josko Gvardiol then came close to handing Aston Villa the opener on a silver plate when he ceded possession with Ederson out of his goal, but the Croatian atoned with a perfect challenge to stop Youri Tielemans from capitalising.
The Aston Villa pressure barely relented for the entire first period, and the writing was on the wall that champions would be breached before long, none more so than when Douglas Luiz’s header was narrowly ruled out for the ball going out in the build-up.
Despite a better first 15 minutes of the second half, Villa again had the first big opening, John McGinn chopping onto his right and shooting low and just wide. The hosts were smelling blood again, and they eventually found it; Leon Bailey was again allowed to run for far too long, before his strike clipped the toe of Ruben Dias and deflected into Ederson’s top corner.
It didn’t stop there, with Douglas Luiz soon testing Ederson again, with Manchester City’s Brazilian denying his Villa countrymate, before his post came to the rescue when the former City midfielder’s shot had him beaten.
In stark contrast to previous occasions Manchester City have been trailing, there was barely a whisper of a response from the Blues, with Villa riding out the rest of the match with serene comfort. It was more or less a disgraceful display, and Pep Guardiola will need to have a serious think about the names on his teamsheet for Sunday’s trip to Luton after this farce.
Here are our assessments of the individual player performances on Wednesday night!
Ederson – 6.5
Made several saves in the first half, most of which you’d expect him to, but which could easily have deceived him. No chance after the deflection on the goal.
Kyle Walker – 5
Didn’t face too much direct threat down his side, but had little to no impact in possession.
Ruben Dias – 6.5 (MOTM)
Probably his type of game, with plenty of balls to head, clear and tackle away, all of which he did with relish. Very unlucky for the deflection on the goal.
Josko Gvardiol – 4.5
Did well on the ball when he had time, although was a little more flappable when pressured. Did his defending against Bailey for the most part, but lost him on the goal.
Manuel Akanji – 4
Had his better moments when defending as a natural centre-back as opposed to when stepping into midfield to help Stones. Invisible in the centre.
John Stones – 5.5
You can see the difference he will make to City in the long-term, even if not quite fully sharp. A few classy moments in his unnatural position of defensive midfield, even if he did look unsure going forward.
Rico Lewis – 3
No one can ever accuse him of being overawed by an occasion, but it simply wasn’t his night, either through the middle in the first half or on the right in the second.
Julian Alvarez – 2.5
Struggled badly to cope with the high Villa pressure. Couldn’t really help his side create chances when he had space either, and was rightly withdrawn.
Bernardo Silva – 3.5
Almost entirely ineffective on the right wing. Restored a little control early in the second half, before then being bypassed again.
Erling Haaland – 3.5
Failed to take the two early chances he had, and was feeding off less than scraps thereafter. Some decent holdup play but was otherwise completely kept out of the game.
Phil Foden – 5
Looked the only chance City had of creating anything. Some really good touches in advanced areas, but was strangely withdrawn with the game in the balance.
Mateo Kovacic – 5.5
Kept his head well in the middle and gave some more control, if not the thrust City needed.
Matheus Nunes – 3.5
Got on the ball a fair amount in and around the area, but did the square root of nothing with it.
Oscar Bobb – 4.5
More or less as much of a bystander in his time on the pitch as he was in his time on the bench.
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