While Manchester City might have failed to find a way to the top of the Premier League table on Wednesday night, the Sky Blues did extend on what has been a recent purple patch.
Although Pep Guardiola might have been open about his selection issues ahead of their trip to Villa Park, the defending Premier League champions did manage to land a 2-1 win in the Midlands.
Handing Steven Gerrard his first defeat as Aston Villa boss since the former Liverpool icon took charge last month, we have taken a look at the main talking points as City made it five wins on the bounce in midweek.
City march on
While Manchester City might have endured a minor blip when drawing an end to October, Guardiola’s side have certainly bounced back on either side of the latest international break.
Booking their spot in the knockout stage of this year’s Champions League thanks to an eye-catching 2-1 win against French giants PSG exactly a week ago, it is hard to argue that the Sky Blues were not a worthy winner on Wednesday night.
Taking a more than deserved lead as Ruben Dias produced a sublime driven strike after 27 minutes, City really topped off their stunning first-half display with a wonderful team goal to double their lead moments before the break.
Watching the red-hot Bernardo Silva find the roof of the net with a spectacular volley, they do appear to be finding their best form before heading into the Christmas schedule.
Although Guardiola might have been public with his selection issues ahead of their trip to Villa Park, the former Bayern Munich boss was right to praise another professional display on the road.
Able to hand Jack Grealish a brief cameo appearance against his former club after returning from a knock, City fans couldn’t have wished for a better night’s work after dealing with injuries and suspensions in their camp.
Second-half positives for Gerrard to build on
Making the decision to leave Rangers and replace Dean Smith at Villa Park last month, Gerard certainly saw his tenure get off to a flying start as he secured back-to-back wins against Brighton and Crystal Palace.
However, while Villa’s new boss might have gained plenty of early plaudits since arriving in the Midlands, there is no doubt that the 41-year-old would have been more than aware he faced a stern test on Wednesday night.
Despite being 2-0 down heading into the half-time break, Gerrard should take the positives away from their showing against arguably Europe’s best side.
Watching Ollie Watkins bag his fourth Premier League goal of the season just two minutes after the interval, there were spells in the second-half where Villa did look the more likely to find the net.
With 18-year-old starlet Carney Chukwuemeka forcing Ederson into a smart save with just 15 minutes left on the clock, Gerard’s side could have felt they might have deserved to have snatched an unlikely point.
Nevertheless, although Villa’s new boss might have suffered his first defeat on Wednesday night, the Clarets should still be excited by the prospect of life under Gerrard.
What’s next for both?
While Manchester City might have failed to have found a route back to the top of the table on Wednesday night, there is no doubt that the defending champions will be boosted by another professional display.
A deserved winner at Villa Park and current riding a real wave, Guardiola’s side will be desperate to keep up their momentum over what will be a hectic schedule.
Next up for the Sky Blues, City will be next seen on Saturday evening when they make the trip to Vicarage Road and face off against Watford.
As for Aston Villa, with Gerrard suffering his first defeat since making the move from Rangers last month, the ex-England skipper will be calling on his side to bounce immediately back this weekend.
Ahead of an emotional meeting against Liverpool on December 11th, the midweek hosts will be next seen when they welcome a struggling Leicester to Villa Park on Sunday afternoon.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, McGinn, Nakamba, Luiz, Bailey, Watkins, Buendia
Subs: Young, Sanson, Chukwuemeka
Manchester City: Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Rodri, Silva, Sterling, Jesus, Mahrez
Goals: Aston Villa: Watkins 47′ – Manchester City: Dias 27′, Silva 43′
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Mike Dean
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