Manchester City (A) Match Report (Review)
It was a tough result to take when the full-time whistle blew at the Etihad last night. Villa’s tough ask was made even harder when they were facing 12-man Man City. Jon Moss the referee, who has been known to officiate poorly against Villa in the past, was up to his old tricks again last night.
The first half went pretty well for Villa. Martinez had a shaky start early on, misjudging a Rodri header, but made a strong save to make up for from close range as Bernardo Silva’s expense, before a Tyrone Mings/Matty Cash last ditch clearance on the line, this was all in the first few minutes!! After this, if the Villa players didn’t know already, they knew it was going to be the toughest of games, especially with Man City in song. Not many can stop them. Villa did have their own chances though, Ross Barkley should have done better in a 3v2 situation, trying to pick out Jack Grealish, but it was well read by Cancelo, and Bertrand Traore after a terrific goal kick, sat Kevin De Bruyne down on his backside and was through, one-on-one, only to cut inside and fire a weak effort from just outside the box towards Ederson’s net. A few other chances came both team’s way, but the story of the first half was City Cross, Villa clear, City Corner, Villa head away.
At half time, Dean Smith would have been pretty pleased, but he obviously wasn’t too pleased as he seemed to make a tactical tweak with the Wingers, Jack Grealish, and Bertrand Traore, were a lot deeper in the second half. This could have also been because of City’s constant pressure/dominance from the first whistle in the second half. The second half certainly started as the first ended, all Man City. City must have though their luck was o-out as on many occasions lady luck and outrageous defending, saved Aston Villa with Manchester City hitting the crossbar through Joao Cancelo and a goalmouth scramble with Gundogan somehow stepping over the ball 5 yards out with Targett clearing his lines. On the 68th minute Villa were rejuvenated by two substitutions from Dean Smith, replacing Bertrand Traore and Ross Barkley with Anwar El Ghazi and Jacob Ramsey. This gave the Visitors a lift and helped create a few chances, Ollie Watkins found himself on the left, trying to play in Jacob Ramsey only for Ruben Dias to pull out some defensive masterclass to re-direct the ball to Ramsey’s surprise. Not long after, a few crosses were put in, with one being cleared to Douglas Luiz’s feet on the edge of the box before hitting a superb volley, saved by Ederson. Another chance for Villa went begging after Jack Grealish did some superb work on the left-hand side, taking 3 players out of the game before simply rolling the ball into John McGinn’s path for the Scotsman to rush it, slip and miskick the ball. The Scotsman was then booked for “delaying the play” after a foul by Douglas Luiz, Dean Smith called the decision a “pathetic yellow” this means that McGinn will now miss Villa’s next game vs Newcastle at Villa Park on Saturday. Villa were made to rue their missed chances as Manchester City scored a controversial first goal.
It all stemmed from an Emi Martinez goal kick, which to be honest, caused Villa problems all night, with most of them handing the home side possession, with Villa not keen on playing out, which is understandable with City’s press. The kick was intercepted and won by Bernardo Silva of all people! As the short Portuguese-man headed towards Tyrone Mings’ vicinity, who began to chest it down, not knowing that an offside Rodri was on his tail, as Mings was about to control, Rodri, who was in an offside position, pick-pocketed Mings and played the ball through to a rushing Bernardo Silva, who finished the move he started. Villa were incensed and rightfully so, Rodri was in an offside position when he challenged Tyrone Mings for possession, the Villa players surrounded referee, Jon Moss and were expecting either VAR to check it, or him to go to the monitor himself. This was not the case, as the goal was allowed to stand, with Dean Smith, asking the Fourth Official, David Coote if he got “Juggling balls for Christmas” before getting a yellow card, and when told by Jon Moss that he was following the rules, Smith simply said, “Should have done that earlier” and just like that was sent to the stands, likely suspended for Newcastle. Smith, who was still angry, after the game said that he felt like he was “treated differently” after the game, and no other manager in the division would have been sent off for those comments. In my opinion, the goal it was harsh for the goal to stand, although, I think Tyrone Mings should be doing better in that situations and clearing his lines, how was he, or anyone for that matter to know that Rodri, running from 10 yards behind him, was an active threat, so you can’t really put any blame on Villa’s England International. I think that the rules need to be clarified or maybe even tweaked, as the players, playing the game don’t even know the rules of the game they play! How does that work?
Not long after that, Riyad Mahrez was allowed to put a dangerous cross into an unmarked Gabriel Jesus, who then headered against an on-rushing Matty Cash, hitting one of his flailing arms, firstly, the header from Gabriel Jesus, was not going in, so Cash is not stopping a goal-scoring opportunity and secondly it hits him a point blank range, although, we are aware that “any handball in the box is penalised” I am certain that if a City player did that in their own penalty area that a penalty kick would not have been given, I would bet my house on that. There certainly seem like there is some corruption circling around the referees because simple decisions are only being checked/changed when it suits them, and guess what? It only suits them when it involves a top 6 club. The FA and the Premier League need to have a meeting at the end of the season as this is not the way forward. Is it not possible to bring in top Refs from around the world to handle VAR? There would be less sway towards the “top clubs” then and I am sure this would make us understand decisions more and why they are made, instead of turning the television off and heading straight to Twitter after the game, with VAR and referees always overshadowing the football played on the pitch, let’s be honest. The game was really good to watch tonight, two wonderful teams, attacking each other, end-to-end and it made out to be a great watch, but it shouldn’t have been decided as it was.
Aston Villa Player Ratings:
Martinez – 8.0
I thought Emi Martinez was solid and made a few great saves to keep City at bay, his handling and catching was brilliant, but I did think his distribution was a little off today, so an 8 for Martinez.
Cash – 8.5
Cash was brilliant defensively last night, made a last-ditch block to deny Foden late in the first half and defended well without much help from Traore.
Konsa – 9.0
Blocked and cleared every cross, the man showed why no player has dribbled past him all season, and he still has that outstanding stat to his name, after this one, has to be a 9 for Konsa.
Mings – 8.5
Like Konsa, Mings was a rock in the defence, he headed most corners away and cleared every cross that Konsa didn’t. Little error for City’s first, but I explained that earlier so no need to dwell on that. 8.5 for Mings.
Targett – 10.0
My MOTM, I thought Targett was phenomenal, he kept Sterling at bay, with City actually avoiding going at him, targeting Cash on the right. Before he went off injured, nothing was getting past him
Douglas Luiz – 7.0
I thought Douglas Luiz put in a classy performance, doing his job, winning fouls, and a few classy roulettes, he looked at home at The Etihad, I really hope Villa can tie him down to a new deal soon. 7 for Luiz.
John McGinn – 7.0
The Scotsman was a bit sloppy on the ball in my opinion, trying the “Hollywood” pass a bit too often, but he had some nice touches, probably should have scored in the moment when he miskicked the ball, did a nice turn against De Bruyne, so overall a 7 for McGinn.
Bertrand Traore – 7.2
Traore was one of Villa’s most dangerous players in this game, sitting De Bruyne down and having Zinchenko and Cancel for dinner, breezing past them, however, the end product was not always there, and he switched off defensively leaving Cash isolated. 7.2 for Bert.
Ross Barkley – 7.0
Ross showed his quality today but also showed that it is his first game since the end of November and Villa fans need to be patient. He held onto the ball too long at times and looked rusty, I believe in a few games time he will be back to his best, promising signs, a 7 for Ross.
Jack Grealish – 7.2
Our superstar Jack, wasn’t at his wonderful, flying best against City, but maybe it was the occasion or the fact he hasn’t played for 3 weeks, he was still classy, he still breezed past players and created at least one clear cut chance, we are lucky to be able to watch him week in week out, we are sometimes disappointed by, still a good performance as we know what he is capable of. 7.2 for Jack.
Ollie Watkins – 7.0
Watkins put in a great shift, as always. Pressing from the front, he is our most important defender. He didn’t really have any opportunities of note but held the ball up well and won fouls and throws for the team. What a team player he is. 7 for Ollie.
Neil Taylor – 6.8 – Goat, absolutely smashed one of the City players. Got booked
Jacob Ramsey – 7.0 – Looked promising, would have scored but for Dias. Hope to see him start vs Newcastle.
Anwar El Ghazi – 7.0 – looked okay, didn’t really get the opportunity to run at defenders or impress, hope to see more of him vs Newcastle.