On Saturday 17th November 2012 I went to the Etihad Stadium to watch reigning Premier League champions Manchester City play Aston Villa.
Manchester City are my nearest top flight club and I had made two visits to the Etihad Stadium last season to watch them play, against Wolves in the Premiership and Manchester United in the FA Cup. It is a fantastic place to watch football and I was delighted to get the opportunity to see another game at the stadium.
The journey to Manchester is always very simple and you can walk to the stadium from Manchester Piccadilly train station in 15 minutes. We arrived in plenty of time and had a walk around the ground, watching some o the build up in City Square and just soaking up the big match atmosphere.
I spotted City legend and Club Ambassador Mike Summerbee outside the ground and I had a picture with the man who made 357 appearences for the club. The Manchester City team coach then arrived and we watched Roberto Mancini as well as the likes of Joe Hart, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero make their way in to the stadium.
With around three quarters of an hour to go until kick off, we decided to head through the turnstiles and takes our seats. The view from our seats in the third tier of the East Stand was brilliant and it gave us a much better view of all the action than when we had sat behind the goal for my other two visits.
After a hugely successful 2010/11 season, City had started this league campaign just as strongly and were yet to defeated. The Citizens sat in 2nd place, just two points behind their biggest rivals Manchester United, and they were looking to continue a run that had seen them unbeaten at home since December 2010 in the Premiership.
Today’s opponents, Aston Villa were struggling at the wrong end of the league table in 17th position and just 3 points away from the relegation zone. Villa had won just one of their last seven and Paul Lambert’s side were in desperate need of a victory in today’s game against the champions to help them move away from the danger zone.
Roberto Mancini made two changes to the side that had defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 last week, with Maicon and Samir Nasri replacing Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta in the starting 11. Meanwhile, Paul Lambert named the same line up after his side’s last gasp defeat to Manchester United last week.
City dominated the early stages of the game but failed to create many clear cut chances as the Villa defence held out strongly. At the other end, Joe Hart twice had to be alert to keep the game goalless. Vincent Kompany almost directed the ball in to his own net before Christian Benteke’s powerful header was well saved by the England first choice stopper.
Carlos Tevez saw a low shot tipped wide by Brad Guzan but that was about as close as City came until the stroke of half time. A corner led to a goalmouth scramble which eventually saw Spaniard David Silva poke the ball home from just yards out to give the home side the advantage at the break.
The home side continued to control the play in the second half Sergio Aguero came very close to doubling the advantage when he was played in a goal before a last ditch tackle from Ron Vlaar saved Villa.
City were then gifted an opportunity to double their lead when the linesman awarded a very controversial penalty on the 54th minute. A Silva corner was judged to have deflected off the hand of Andreas Weimann and a decision was made that baffled the players and supporters alike. Aguero, who had struggled to have much of an effect up until this point, calmly fired the ball in to the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
The game was all but over in the 65th minute when Tevez converted a second penalty to make the score 3-0 to the home side. There could be little doubt about this decision as Barry Bannan handled the ball in the area to leave the referee with little choice.
With the result beyond doubt, City began to play some exhibition football as there passing and movement outclassed the opposition. Just two minutes later and it was 4-0. Aguero charged forward and fired home from a tight angle to score his second and City’s fourth goal of the game.
It was 5-0 in the 74th minute when Samir Nasri’s ball across goal left Tevez with a simple tap in to make sure that both the forward’s had a brace to their name. The opportunities dried up a little after this but the home side continued to dominate and certainly looked like a team worthy of the Premiership crown.
A final talking point, for us at least, was the late introduction of Jordan Bowery for Aston Villa. The former Chesterfield striker had joined Villa in the summer and finally made his debut today for the final seven minutes of the game.
At full time the score was 5-0 and it was a well deserved victory for Manchester City. The result saw them move to the summit of the league table as both Manchester United and Chelsea lost. Paul Lambert and Aston Villa will be wondering what might have been had the incredibly harsh penalty decision not been given, but in reality they had been well beaten and could have few complaints.
I always enjoy my trips to the Etihad Stadium and it was a pleasure to watch a footballing masterclass from Manchester City this afternoon. It isn’t long until my next Premiership game as I am going to Stamford Bridge on Sunday to watch Chelsea v Manchester City. Champions of Europe vs Champions of England, there’s worse ways to spend a Sunday!
Manchester City 5–0 Aston Villa
Silva ’43, Aguero ’54 (pen), ’67, Tevez ’65 (pen), 74Hart, Maicon, Kompany, Clichy (Kolarov ’73), Nastasic, Nasri, Barry, Silva (Sinclair ’76), Y Toure, Aguero (Dzeko ’69), Tevez Guzan, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, Lowton, Ireland (Albrighton ’62), Westwood, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke (Bowery ’83), Weimann (Holman ’62) Attendance: 47,072