Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Manchester City 3-2 Aston Villa: Main Talking Points As Pep Guardiola’s Men Recapture Their Premier League Crown With A Thriller

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 23 May 2022

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In what will long be remembered as another Etihad classic on Sunday afternoon, Manchester City recaptured their Premier League crown with a remarkable 3-2 win against Aston Villa.

Heading into their final meeting of the 2021/22 campaign knowing that three points would be enough to finish the job off, Pep Guardiola’s side really went about it the hard way after watching Villa storm their way to a shock 2-0 lead.

However, a decade on from Sergio Aguero’s heroics against QPR and one of the Premier League’s most iconic moments, İlkay Gündoğan also wrote himself into Manchester City folklore.

Spearheading a famous late charge that saw the Sky Blues bag a trio of second-half strikes in the space of just five minutes, Guardiola’s side will now know that only a victory here would have been enough for them to claim their sixth Premier League title.

Watching Liverpool mount their own comeback at home against Wolves as they eventually picked up a 3-1 victory, there is no doubt that Sunday will live long in the memory.

On a stunning final weekend from up and down the Premier League, we have taken a look at the major talking points.

Another Etihad thriller on the final weekend

Having to mount another second-half comeback away at West Ham last weekend as they eventually snatched a 2-2 draw in east London, Guardiola would have been desperate for a far more routine afternoon on home soil.

With it all going down to the wire and holding just a one-point buffer over Liverpool ahead of Sunday’s showdown, all eyes from across Europe fell firmly on the Etihad here.

However, watching Villa storm their way to a 2-0 lead and with Fernandinho enduring a torrid time in his final appearances for the club, Guardiola would have been having flashbacks to City’s Champions League collapse out in Madrid on May 4th.

Despite crashing out of Europe after a remarkable injury-time flurry from Los Blancos earlier in the month, the one-time Bayern Munich boss was clearly overwhelmed by the resolve that his side have shown over recent weeks.

Mounting what was another famous Etihad comeback on the final weekend as his second-half subs really paid off, the emotional scenes at the final whistle only topped off what has been a stellar domestic campaign for City.

Claiming their sixth Premier League crown following Sunday’s stunning 3-2 victory, the arrival of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund this summer will only be an additional boost to Guardiola’s star-studded squad.

In a campaign that has seen Kevin De Bruyne once again steal many of the headlines around Manchester, it is hard to argue that the Sky Blues were not a worthy winner in this season’s epic title chase.

Villa’s Scouse icons almost cause an almighty upset

While Aston Villa might have known that they needed a real miracle on Sunday if they were to clinch a top-half finish, Steve Gerrard’s side came within minutes of pulling off an almighty upset.

With the ex-Liverpool skipper determined to hand his former club that chance to claim their second Premier League trophy at Anfield, Villa’s scouse connection silenced the Etihad on either side of the half-time break.

Watching another former Liverpool icon in Philippe Coutinho double Gerrard’s lead after Matty Cash’s first-half header, it was on a plate for Sunday’s guests to play the pantomime villain.

However, while Villa might have once again impressed for large spells here, the one-time Rangers boss would have been left furious by the way that his side threw away a golden chance – both for himself and his boyhood club 30 miles down the road.

Shipping three goals in the space of just five minutes after a real collapse at the Etihad, Gerrard’s side limped their way to a 14th-place finish after an inconsistent spell over recent months.

Despite The Athletic reporting prior to Sunday’s showdown that Marseille starlet Boubacar Kamara is close to agreeing a five-year deal at Villa Park, they could only sign off the 2021/22 campaign with a pair of wins from their final 11 appearances.

With many expecting what could be another squad overhaul in the midlands this summer, Gerrard will know that the pressure could start to build if his side don’t find some much-needed stability next season.

İlkay Gündoğan – A City Legend

While a certain De Bruyne might have received the most plaudits heading into Sunday’s finale at the Etihad, there is no doubt that İlkay Gündoğan stole all of the headlines after a famous cameo display.

Coming off the bench seconds before Coutinho doubled Villa’s lead in the 69th-minute, the German international wrote himself into Manchester City folklore here.

Nodding home at the back stick as the one-time Borussia Dortmund midfielder halved the deficit minutes after coming on, Gündoğan then sent the Etihad into overdrive as he tapped in from close range to complete City’s iconic turnaround.

With Rodri’s sublime driven effort from the edge of the box sandwiched between Gündoğan’s quickfire double, Guardiola was filled with praise for the 31-year-old who claimed his fourth individual Premier League winners medal.

However, despite cementing his spot as a Manchester City legend on Sunday afternoon, it remains to be seen if this heroic display will be his final appearance in a Sky Blue shirt.

With his current deal at the newly-crowned Premier League champions set to expire next summer, The Daily Mail reported last week that Gündoğan is set to look for a move away over the coming weeks.

Nevertheless, despite links to the likes of Arsenal, Guardiola has made it clear that he does not want Sunday’s hero to leave ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

Match Report:

Manchester City: Ederson, Stones, Fernandinho, Laporte, Cancelo, De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva, Mahrez, Jesus, Foden

Subs: Gündoğan, Sterling, Zinchenko

Aston Villa: Olsen, Cash, Chambers, Mings, Digne, McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey, Buendia, Coutinho, Watkins

Subs: Ings, Young, Nkamba

Goals: Manchester City: Gündogan (76′, 81′), Rodri (78′) – Aston Villa: Cash (37′), Coutinho (69′)

Yellow Cards: Nkamba, Mings

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Michael Oliver

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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