Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City: 5 Talking Points as 10-man City return to winning ways | Premier League 2020-21

Aston Villa vs Manchester City - Premier League
Aston Villa vs Manchester City - Premier League
Harsh Pillai

Manchester City returned to winning ways with a come-from-behind 2-1 win at Aston Villa to go 11 points clear at the top of the 2020-21 Premier League.

After a disappointing loss to Leeds United and another against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, Manchester City travelled to Birmingham to take on Aston Villa.

The visitors opened the scoring on the night when Ollie Watkins set up John McGinn for a comfortable tap-in inside the first two minutes of the game. However, Manchester City responded in the 22nd minute, courtesy a fabulous strike from Phil Foden, to restore parity at Villa Park.

After a beautiful build-up, Bernardo Silva made a cut-back from the right-wing to Foden, and the 19-year-old placed the ball into the net with his weaker foot.

It was one-way traffic after that, as Manchester City dominated possession and took the lead in the 40th minute. Once again, it was Silva who sent in a looping cross into the box, and Rodri rose highest to head home.

Manchester City were reduced to ten men on the cusp of half-time but hung on to take all three points on the night.

On that note, let's take a look at the five talking points from this game.

#1 Manchester City show character and resilience

Aston Villa vs Manchester City - Premier League
Aston Villa vs Manchester City - Premier League

Just before the first-half whistle, a prolonged VAR check for a foul by John Stones on Jacob Ramsey saw the English centre-back sent off.

On review, the clip showed that Stones went in with his boot up, which meant there was a risk of a knee injury to the opposition player. The red card was awarded and Manchester City were down to ten men just before the half-time whistle.

However, that didn't bring Aston Villa into the game. Aymeric Laporte was introduced as Manchester City looked to frustrate, tire and eventually kill Villa's hopes of restoring parity.

Manchester City dropped to a 4-4-1 shape without the ball, which meant the hosts had fewer attempts on goal in the second half. Villa's numerical superiority lasted only 12 minutes into the second half, as Matty Cash was shown a second yellow card for a silly foul on Phil Foden.

Nevertheless, Manchester City displayed character and resilience to hold their citadel intact and claim all three points.

#2 Phil Foden impresses for Manchester City

When was the last time Phil Foden had a bad game? The 21-year-old has set the league alight with his consistent displays every week.

The Englishman was yet again on target for Manchester City, inspiring an impressive comeback against Aston Villa, a team who had not dropped a single point in the league this season after leading.

After his tremendous strike against Borrusia Dortmund in the quarter-finals secured Manchester City their first Champions League semi-final in five years, Phil Foden returned to domestic duties and outshone a physical Aston Villa team in the middle of the park.

No player has scored more goals in all competitions before turning 21 for Pep Guardiola's team than Phil Foden, who'll now savour the prospect of winning his maiden Champions League title.

#3 Aston Villa continue their underperformance in the second half of the season

Aston Villa vs Manchester City - Premier League
Aston Villa vs Manchester City - Premier League

Aston Villa took the lead against league leaders Manchester City but eventually returned empty-handed from the game.

A team that beat Liverpool, Arsenal and Leicester City and shared the spoils with Chelsea have struggled to get going in the second half of the season.

Dean Smith's men went from fighting for survival in 2019 to aiming for a spot in Europe last year, the improvement witnessed at Villa being quite surreal. But their intensity and competitiveness have dropped down, with the injury to Jack Grealish not making things any easy.

Aston Villa have won just twice in their last ten Premier League games and eight of their last twenty. For a team wishing to finish mid-table, that is a decent return. But Aston Villa could've achieved more, given they have decent squad depth, considering the investments they made in quality players like Bertrand Traore, Matt Targett and Ollie Watkins, to name a few.

#4 Is the red card a blessing in disguise for John Stones?

The 26-year-old was sent off for a reckless standing tackle on Jacob Ramsey, putting his team under pressure as Manchester City could have slumped to consecutive Premier League defeats. The visitors, however, secured all three points, and the red card might have been a blessing in disguise for John Stones.

Pep Guardiola's rotation is unbelievably unpredictable. The only regular in his team throughout the season has been Ederson in goal, Ruben Dias in defence, Rodri in midfield and Bernardo Silva, to a certain extent. The former Barcelona manager loves to rotate his players, so with the key clash against PSG coming up in the Champions League semi-finals, Stones has earned himself a week off on the sidelines.

Aymeric Laporte is likely to start the EFL cup final against Tottenham Hotspur alongside Ruben Dias. After three days of that game, they travel to Paris. Stones would be fresh for the PSG game, and that could augur well for Manchester City's hopes of returning from the French capital with a positive result.

#5 Bernardo Silva produces a 'Man of the Match' performance

While Phil Foden and Rodri got their names on the scoresheet, the goals came from the composure, technique and class of Bernardo Silva, who got the better of Aston Villa's defence. With 86 touches, three key passes, three big chances created, five dribbles and five duels won, Bernardo Silva, who also produced two assists, had a stellar outing.

Pep Guardiola has seemed to prefer the likes of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan over the Portuguese. But Silva has already taken Sterling's place in the team, while Foden likes to play as a left-winger.

Manchester City have won games without a striker and defensive midfielder and have also deployed inverted full-backs at times. The tactical nous of Pep Guardiola is impeccable, and Bernardo Silva is a player who has truly flourished under the Spaniard.

Edited by Bhargav
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