Manchester City dominated Aston Villa with a 3-1 victory in an electrifying match filled with energy and passion.
The first-half goals from Rodrigo, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez put City on the path to victory and reduced Arsenal’s lead to just three points ahead of their summit meeting on Wednesday in North London.
City started the match with determination and took the lead after just 4 minutes with a powerful header from Rodrigo off a cross from Riyad Mahrez. Ilkay Gundogan also had a shot saved by Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez, but managed to score two minutes later after a collision between Erling Haaland and Martinez.
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Despite a denied penalty by VAR, Gundogan added another goal before the break, with a low cross from Haaland. To complete the first half, Riyad Mahrez confidently scored a penalty, after Jacob Ramsey fouled Jack Grealish.
The second half saw Julian Alvarez replacing Haaland and Manuel Akanji taking over for Ruben Dias. Although City attempted to secure the points with a fourth goal, Villa managed to get one back with a shot from Ollie Watkins. Despite some half-chances for City, the team managed to control the remainder of the game comfortably.
City coach Pep Guardiola made strategic changes to the starting XI, with experienced players Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne all making a comeback. The team adopted a formation that allowed Bernardo and De Bruyne more freedom to roam, while Rodrigo and Gundogan provided additional cover.
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This top-of-the-table clash with Arsenal on Wednesday, February 15th at the Emirates Stadium has taken on even more significance, as City has the opportunity to go above Arsenal with a victory. The match starts at 19:30 (UK) or 21:30 (CAT). City will then face a test of their title credentials when they take on Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest next Saturday at the City Ground.
The star of the match was Rodrigo, who put in a solid display and set the tone for the afternoon with his goal.