Manchester City moving in a very good form, three goals in the 2nd half ensuring victory and the closing of the gap to Liverpool to two points, at least until the leaders entertain Tottenham on Sunday. Football fans can book Premier League Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.
Pep Guardiola was happy with the win over an Aston Villa who came to play; there was anger at the display before the break. “We played a good 45 minutes, not the other ones. Credit to Aston Villa,” he said. “The second half we were better, we play in the way we normally are but we have to try and play 90 minutes not just 45.”
Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock 23 seconds into the 2nd half. “Normally you use the word aggressive when you don’t have the ball,” Guardiola said. “I like to use this word aggressive when you have the ball. Raheem was the only player who was aggressive with the ball in the first half. In the 2nd half, we imitate him. Be aggressive with the ball and we [were] not aggressive.”
Rodri’s injury problem had cleared the way for John Stones to make his first start since mid-September while Gabriel Jesus, again preferred to Sergio Aguero, missed an early chance, steering wide of Tom Heaton’s left post. Manchester City controlled the ball and space for most of the challenge, camping inside the visitors’ half with Sterling, the two Silvas – Bernardo and David – and Kevin De Bruyne a blue blur that Villa twisted to slow.
Villa showed they should be taken seriously, too, as they wanted a first win against City since September 2013. Wesley, the lone striker, was a powerful focal point, and Trezeguet, Jack Grealish, and John McGinn looked risky in combination. After Sterling‘s shot hit Bjorn Engels in the area VAR ruled no penalty and moments later the same adjudication came at the other end. Ederson saved a McGinn effort to his left, the ball spilled to Douglas Luiz and as Fernandinho and João Cancelo closed on the midfielder he went down but City escaped.
David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan’s radars are off City can struggle, though Ederson’s capability to fire 60-yard passes – such as the one Heaton raced out to chest away illustrates their all-round strength. Guardiola has been worried at the chances passed by his team, with Trezeguet and Wesley have given room to shoot in the penalty area. As half-time approached the lack of callousness in the opposite box was also illustrated when Sterling teed up David Silva but he sprayed wide.
23 seconds into the 2nd half and Sterling showed Silva how. A high ball was knocked into his path and, after advancing on Heaton’s goal, he fired his finish through the goalkeeper’s legs. This was Sterling’s 13th strike of the term for Manchester City and his 7th in the league, two behind the top scorer, Jamie Vardy.
When Manchester City scores once they often do so a 2nd time or more. Not long after the opener, Benjamin Mendy’s shot could have doubled the margin, and then Jesus missed a second sitter of the game, unable to finish from a few yards out. This had Guardiola stamping in anger. Soon they had the 2nd goal. De Bruyne passes with Mendy from the corner on the left. The Belgian swung the ball in, and it passed David Silva and Sterling and went in. Cue a VAR delay to see if Sterling was offside before the goal was ruled to be good and credited to De Bruyne.
Dean Smith was in no doubt. “The 2nd goal I believe is offside,” he said, before pointing to the Belgian being awarded it, believing Silva to have touched the ball. “That’s a get-out for the officials.”Manchester City was soon 3-0 up following a melee at a corner Gundogan volleyed sweetly home.
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