Aston Villa fell to a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at Villa Park on Wednesday night, despite John McGinn’s opener to break the deadlock after just 21 seconds.
It was a lightning-quick start from us as we took City by surprise in the first minute, but it didn’t take long for the Premier League title chasers to find their rhythm and dominate.
Goals from Phil Foden and Rodri turned things around in their favour before half-time, and despite the sending off of John Stones, we weren’t able to threaten them in the second half as Matty Cash was also dismissed to leave both sides with 10 men at the final whistle.
Brilliant start to game
The opening minute of the encounter couldn’t have gone any better for Dean Smith and the players as we carved City open within 21 seconds as McGinn gave us an early lead.
That was the crisp, direct passing needed to hurt the visitors, and we showed the attacking quality that we’re capable of producing immediately. Unfortunately, even after gaining a man advantage, we weren’t able to continue to display that level of play for the rest of the game.
Too deep, no quality to counter
Smith may look back and question whether or not we sat too deep after going ahead as we handed the initiative back to City who settled, found their rhythm and got their breakthroughs to take the lead.
The strategy could have worked if we showed the same level of urgency and quality in our counter attacking play, but we were wasteful and couldn’t string passes together to remain a threat for Pep Guardiola’s side who weren’t concerned about getting hit on the break.
Cash sending off killed any potential momentum
The dismissal of John Stones before half-time gave us fresh impetus to try and take the game to City, but that was gone with Matty Cash after his red card just before the hour mark.
We never troubled City after that as we looked flat and lacked any creative spark going forward, while they were comfortable and knocked the ball about for long periods.
Improvements needed in same old areas
It’s not new news that the midfield and attacking positions around Ollie Watkins need looking at this summer.
Douglas Luiz and Marvelous Nakamba were no real match for City’s contingent in that department, while Bertrand Traore and Jacob Ramsey weren’t able to give us creativity and a killer instinct in the final third.
Ramsey’s still young and developing so it’s too early to be dismissive of him, but if we can sign a top-class right winger to complement Jack Grealish and Watkins and add some midfield steeliness, it would be a big step in the right direction.
Smith gives Ramsey, Davis chance
Despite the disappointment over the result, it was good to see Smith give the two youngsters significant minutes to try and impress and make their case for more involvement moving forward.
It’s debatable as to whether or not they did that, but with Carney Chukwuemeka on the bench too, it’s something that many Villa fans have been calling out for and Smith is giving these young guns a chance.
With Cash now suspended for the clash with West Brom on Sunday, it would be refreshing to see Kaine Kesler get the nod at right-back instead of the tried and tested Ahmed Elmohamady.