Aston Villa leapfrog struggling Man City with superb win
Leon Bailey’s deflected shot gave Aston Villa a fully deserved victory over Manchester City as the visitors’ recent slump in form continued.
Villa dominated the champions throughout, who have now gone four Premier League games without a win for the first time in more than seven years.
City missed the suspended Rodri’s influence once more, having lost their last five games when the Spaniard was sidelined, but nothing should detract from an incredible Villa performance that confirmed their stunning growth under Unai Emery’s supervision.
From the start, Villa were reckless in attack, with City keeper Ederson making two excellent early saves from Paul Torres and Bailey, while opposite number Emi Martinez did brilliantly to deny Erling Haaland twice in quick succession.
The Villa goal came 16 minutes from time, when Bailey’s drive from the edge of the area took a touch from Ruben Dias and floated past the hapless Ederson.
Villa now sit third in the Premier League rankings, having won 14 straight home games, while City are six points behind leaders Arsenal.
Villa look the real deal
Emery is making tremendous progress at Villa, and their dramatic victory over last season’s Treble champions is possibly the best example of his influence thus far.
Villa won their 14th home league game in a row with a high-quality performance combined with the manager’s characteristic fiery intensity and organization.
The 22 shots Villa threw at Ederson’s goal were the most Pep Guardiola has seen his team face since taking over at City, whose meager two attempts in total reflected the hosts’ supremacy.
Bailey’s pace and inventiveness tormented City out wide, while John McGinn embodied Villa’s never-say-die attitude until the last whistle.
If City had scored an equalizer, which did not appear likely at any point, it would have been thievery and brutal to Villa.
In the end, Villa held on comfortably, even looking more likely to score again as the game approached its conclusion.
The ovation Emery and his team received after the whistle blew was completely deserved.
Man City out of form and off the pace
City’s deterioration in form is not a crisis, but this run of four league games without a win will definitely worry Guardiola.
Yes, City were missing Rodri, but there was lot more to this loss than his absence.
In a hostile Villa Park environment, City lacked imagination and were overrun on several occasions by Villa’s sheer desire and determination.
City may have justified their last three draws – against Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham – by claiming they played well enough to win, but not this time.
They finished second best overall, and the expected boost in tempo and pressure after the break did not materialize.
City, understandably, is missing world-class Kevin De Bruyne due to injury, and erstwhile captain Ilkay Gundogan has yet to be adequately replaced. Perhaps there is a hangover after last season’s fantastic Treble.
Only a fool would question or dismiss Guardiola’s City, but there is no denying that something is currently lacking from what is ordinarily a flawless footballing machine.