Well, it was always going to be a long-shot, and Aston Villa were just not nearly good enough to take points from Manchester City. The final result was 4-0 to the home side, but you sort of knew that this one was over after Edin Dzeko's first of two goals. Everything else, as they say, was junk-time scoring.
But, and I know this opinion is not universally held, for my money that was one of the most enjoyable spells of Aston Villa I've seen all season. Was it good football? Not really. Was it aesthetically pleasing football? Heavens no. But it was stout defensive football that had Villa playing the roll of the biggest troll in recent memory.
For the first 64 minutes of this match, Aston Villa's 5-man defense held one of the most prolific teams on the planet scoreless. They did so, of course, by parking the bus and loading the box with players. But against a team like City, that alone isn't enough. No, it also relied on some really excellent defending from Aston Villa, who performed during that spell better than I've seen them do all season. They were tested, and beaten, numerous times. Were it not for Brad Guzan, the Citizens would've scored much earlier. But there is no shame in being beaten by an obviously superior foe.
In the first half, you even got the sense for a bit that, once Villa had weathered the storm, they were going to try and go for something. Andi Weimann and Jordan Bowery had a couple of fast breaks that were largely undone by their lack of pace, but Villa spent a little spell actually looking threatening.
Then, in the 64th minutes, the seemingly inevitable happened. As the heavens opened up and began to pour, the floodgates opened on the pitch. Edin Dzeko kicked things off with his first goal of the day:
Created by a fantastic run from Pablo Zabaleta, there wasn't much that the Villa defense could do. The second for Dzeko (and City) was even luckier. Brad Guzan did fantastically to stop a Samir Nasri shot, but the rebound went right to the feet of a waiting Dzeko, who poked the ball in:
A little bit later, Andi Weimann had Villa's best chance of the day, but his header hit the crossbar and bounced straight down and off–but not over–the line. The ref checked his watch and got the signal that there was no goal, and replays showed clearly that it was the correct call. With that miss, Villa laid to rest any chance they had of clawing back into the match. The remaining two goals, from Stevan Jovetic:
and Yaya Toure:
were mere formalities.
It was probably always going to happen this way. Sure, Paul Lambert could have not parked the bus and instead gone insanely into the breach with attacking football, but then we'd likely be looking at a 7-0 or 8-0 scoreline. His style of football today was working as well as you could expect a team that cost £14.5 million to look against the behemoth that is Manchester City.
Jordan Bowery, Callum Robinson, and Jack Grealish all saw time on the pitch today. None of them were all that influential due to the fact that 1) Villa couldn't get the ball to them very often and 2) (in the cases of Robinson and Grealish) they didn't see much time.
And so Aston Villa could not play spoiler and do the work of the gods of chaos. City will likely win the title now, and if they are to fail it will be at the hands of our claret and blue brethren at West Ham. Sunday brings our last match of the season with a trip to White Hart Lane. Villa have even less to play for then than they did today. Who knows what we'll see?
Let's focus on that for a brief moment and then turn, with a relieved sigh, to the summer ahead. This season is behind us now, and Villa are safe. They couldn't beat Manchester City, but that was to be expected. At least they gave us the thrill of being the center of the football universe for 64 minutes. That's not a terrible way to go out.