Aston Villa – Manchester City: Dominant Manchester City Run Riot Against Hapless Aston Villa (1-6)
Aston Villa’s trepidation at going head-to-head with Manchester City proved prophetic as Pep Guardiola’s visitors demolished the home side in a stunning performance at Villa Park. Faced with a nightmarish injury list, Dean Smith could perhaps be forgiven for throwing in the towel, yet the manner of the defeat raises serious questions about the home side’s ability to prolong their stay in the English top flight.
Tactical analysis and match report by Manasvin Andra.
There were concerns aplenty for Villa and Dean Smith coming into the game, as Watford’s victory over Bournemouth meant that the home side found themselves in the relegation spots. Any positives from the 1-2 victory over Burnley were quickly forgotten with the revelation that goalkeeper Tom Heaton and striker Wesley had sustained serious knee injuries, making the game against City a test of Villa’s resolve as they were dragged into the relegation quagmire.
Pep Guardiola sent City out in their usual 4-3-3 formation, making two changes in the process as Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker were benched in favour of Gabriel Jesus and João Cancelo. The addition of Jesus meant that City were playing with two strikers instead of one, and the exact dynamics of how they would operate together remained an interesting question going into the game.
It became clear very quickly that Dean Smith had sent Villa out with a mandate to defend, and soon enough the game settled into the kind of rhythm that precedes a vintage City performance. Villa sat deep in a 5-3-2 shape with wing-backs Neil Taylor and Ahmed Elmohamady instructed to . . .