Away at Manchester City is one of those Premier League matches that is a free shot at points — anything gained is a positive. With that in mind Dean Smith dropped Hourihane and put in former City man (kind of) David Luiz. Trezeguet got the start on the right.
It was a bright start for Villa earning a corner in the first few minutes. McGinn made the decision to sent it deep and it came to nothing — but hey there have been entire matches where Villa had no corners.
But then City showed what City can do. Gabriel Jesus should have opened the scoring at the five minute mark when he turned and fired wide at the top of the six yard box. The chance came from a lucky bounce for hosts — but City make their own luck as well. But thankfully — for Villa — the shot went harmlessly wide.
Villa fullbacks made sure the opening ten minutes finished goalless as both had to make critical clearances at the far posts. City were more than happy to keep creating chances through crosses.
City had a half-hearted claim for a handball against Engels in the box. The ball hit the arm of the defender but both the referee and VAR waved it off because Engels’ arm was tucked in. Corner was given and cleared.
The less-than-noble Mr. VAR was not done though. After a McGinn shot was saved — there was a penalty shout by Douglas Luiz. It too was dismissed.
Jack Grealish picked up a yellow in the 35’ .... for Sterling falling into him. Seriously. I think that is what the official foul was. Sterling was running next to Jack. Sterling began to fall over — and did so toward Jack. So naturally, yellow card for the Villa captain. Dumb.
Just short of halftime — City should have (again) opened the scoring. This time it was a shocking miss from David Silva. It was an open net. Villa very lucky. At the other end — Trezeguet tried to hit a lower header from an excellent cross... but he missed the ball... completely. It would have taken a perfect header to score.
The halftime whistle blew and Villa’s midfield and fullbacks were happy to get a rest.
Sadly the rest may have backfired.
40 seconds into the second half a long ball finds Sterling and he slotted it under Heaton. Mings should have done better with the long ball. Heaton very nearly stopped the shot. But the hosts were up 1-0.
Villa reacted well to the goal. The defense gathered and seemed to reset themselves — until they tried to totally undo all their good work. This time it was Engels with a really poor pass and decision — meant City were one-on-one with Heaton. The keeper got a piece of the ball but it was Mings on the line using every bit of his thigh to save the goal.
Tyrone Mings making his case for backup keeper. pic.twitter.com/ntKOOeZlox— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 26, 2019
Fernandinho picked up a yellow for a professional foul on Grealish. No complaints for the City player. But once again the free kick was wasted. It is the price to pay for the midfield choices — dropping Hourihane cuts out Villa’s set piece danger.
City — on the other hand — made their next corner count. They played it short and after some short passes the ball was in the net. De Bruyne sent a cross/shot into the box. Silva may have gotten a touch. Sterling (who looked offside) jumped out of the way — kind of. VAR checked it. But did not over turn it. The hosts doubled their lead with an assist to Mr. VAR. This decision will be talked about by Villa supporters — and ignored by the rest.
The hosts weren’t done. Gundogan with an excellent volley made it three.
After the goal Keinan Davis was sent on for Wesley. It was a sub that should have been made at half or 60’. Wesley is a frustrating character. I’m not sure he knows what kind of striker he is. And in a match-up against one of the top teams in the world — Villa need more from the man leading the line. He did not pressure City. He did not hold the ball up. He can — but didn’t today — drop deep and start attacks. He didn’t get on the end of any free kicks — nor does the team try to find him. And he doesn’t have the pace to out run defenders. So what is he? He — along with the coaches — need to figure it out.
With seven minutes left captain Jack Grealish made way with a leg injury. He had been carrying it for awhile going back to a clash with a city player. He passed the armband to Mings and El Ghazi entered the arena.
Fernandinho made his second professional foul of the match — this time on Davis. And well... you can’t do that. Second yellow shown.
Red Card for City as Pep knows our record a man down and makes that tactical change— 7500 to Holte (@7500toHolte) October 26, 2019
Can’t wait for Villa record against 10-men talking point.
Keinan Davis very nearly broke the clean sheet in the 94’. Ederson saved it — but right to McGinn — who put it off the post. It would have been a nice consolation goal.
A word for the traveling Villa fans — you were fantastic. The City fans were asleep until the third goal — but the Villa faithful were there to be heard on the broadcast.
The match end 3-0. It was a free shot at points. Villa played well in the first half. Weren’t up to do it again in the second. On to Wolves in the Cup and another tough match-up next week against Liverpool.
Up the Villa!