Manchester City see off Aston Villa but Haaland a worry for Arsenal test

<span>Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters</span>“src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Nw–/ “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Nw–/”</div>
<div class=
Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

It was the first chance for Manchester City players to respond on the pitch Premier League fees and they did not disappoint.

A first-half three-goal blitz pushed Aston Villa back with their particular shock and awe not seen since September-October when they scored 24 goals and won six in a row. One of the blemishes – especially for a trip to Arsenal on Wednesday – was a kick taken to the thigh by Erling Haaland, which meant he was taken off the pitch at half-time.

Connected: Guardiola built this Manchester City team and knows he can lose everything | Jonathan Wilson

Back in the fall, like this afternoon, they could score all they wanted and leave opponents with an inferiority complex, so after the last eight days it was a good performance. City’s 101 counts of alleged financial wrongdoing sparked an emotional ‘manager’s cheer’ when Pep Guardiola and his team arrived at fans holding banners chanting ‘Fuck the Premier League’ and ‘Investigate this’ (with finger in an obscene position), and the Premier League anthem was booed before the start of the match.

As a result, City were three points behind Arsenal before going to the Emirates: a win there and Guardiola’s team would be ahead on goal difference.

Of Holland, Guardiola said: “In the coming days we will see how he behaves. During the break, I talked with the doctors, they say: “Maybe not to risk it.” I agree. I think he is not injured, but tomorrow we will see. If there are any risks, he won’t play.”

After 30 seconds, City scared them. Ollie Watkins passed to Leon Bailey and his shot was saved for a corner. This did not lead to anything, unlike the first such blow of the hosts: Riyad Mahrez sent the ball from the left flank, and Rodri headed past Emiliano Martinez: the roar that welcomed this was accompanied by additional decibels, which is not surprising.

For a No. 1 who can be overconfident, this debut was a black mark against Martinez and a reminder of how the game can bite ass. But the Argentine redeemed himself when, moments later, Rodri exchanged passes with Kevin De Bruyne, and Ilkay Gundogan relieved the load: Martinez, diving to the right, saved. The goaltender’s next messy pass was Haaland crashing into him and Gundogan on a rebound, but Robert Jones ruled it out with foul number 9.

The city was rampant: a state that was rare in recent times. Jack Grealish came close to a stunning volley that would have silenced the fans of the team he used to captain and who taunted him. Haaland then missed from close range. Guardiola built his side in a 3-2-2-3 formation, perhaps to reduce gaps when he was out of possession, which bothered him. However, when his men returned to their familiar, smooth track, the defense was not effective enough.

A pass from Kyle Walker started their next move with a cross from Rodri, who moved to De Bruyne. The Belgian jumped in like a quick-footed winger and scattered Villa, received Grealish and his curling effort required Martinez’s glove to save.

Rodri (right), who scored the first goal, is happy that Ilkay Gündoğan took Manchester City 2-0 away.
Rodri (right), who scored the first goal, is happy that Ilkay Gündoğan took Manchester City 2-0 away. Photograph: Ryan Pierce/Getty Images

City’s second result was a combination of De Bruyne’s genius and Haaland’s powerful pace. The first, seeing the second lurking, turned and hit the chip without a glance. Martinez jumped out, and Calum Chambers panicked and headed past the goalkeeper, who was overtaken by a galloping Haaland: the Norwegian rolled the ball to the far post, and Gundogan scored.

A brilliant first 45 minutes ended with Jacob Ramsey tripping Grealish in the box, Jones converting a penalty and Mahrez made it 3-0. In the second period, Julian Alvarez and Manuel Akanhy replaced Haaland, while Ruben Diaz and City continued to play. De Bruyne, Grealish and Alvarez teamed up to defeat Rodri, whose efforts were held back by Martinez.

Like a contest it was over. Alvarez landed a clean shot, Walker ran for 50 yards, City loyalists told each other to “stand up for the champions”, which they did. Watkins scored after a midfield mix-up involving Bernardo Silva that allowed him to take the lead and beat Ederson. While City were still a little sleazy – Ederson had to scramble and John Duran missed the crossbar – overall, the show could signal that they’re getting into top shape towards the end of the business campaign.

With a victory over Arsenal in north London, City will overcome an eight-point gap in 27 days, and the quest to emulate Manchester United in the Premier League era with three successive crowns will be entirely in their hands.

Another moment of defiance may have come at the final whistle when The Smiths’ Panic was played. This song is not a common choice here. The Silk, who will defend the City before the independent commission and hear the accusations, is Lord Pannick C.S. Although, of course, it could just be a coincidence.


Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker