Yesterday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium only added to the Villans’ woes, as four second-half goals from the hosts kept their title charge alive and kept the Villans rooted to the bottom of the table, with increasingly little hope of defying the odds and beating the drop.
The hosts showed their dominance from the outset, enjoying 98% of possession in the opening five minutes. However, the Villa defenders’ efforts meant the home side struggled to get the ball to the Villa area.
Aguero should have put his side ahead after eleven minutes, when he brought down a high ball and cut through before aiming for the top corner. A superb fingertip save by Guzan kept the ball out.
A few minutes later, Bony met Clichy’s inviting cross after a promising run but the striker somehow fired wide.
A powerful shot from Sanchez followed, leaving Guzan to claw the ball clear.
The visitors continued to defend quite well but the hosts found occasional gaps in the defence and did their best to exploit them. Bony set up Aguero after twenty-five minutes but the Argentinian’s shot fizzed wide.
As the ball broke to him on the edge of the area, Ayew then tested Hart and forced a fine save from the City goalkeeper.
Rising to meet a corner after thirty-four minutes, Bony planted his header well wide, much to the frustration of the home crowd.
The hosts’ seventh corner of the game soon followed but Otamendi’s headed effort posed no problems for Guzan.
There was no sign of a goal as the first half drew to a close with a yellow card for Veretout for lunging at Aguero.
With no changes for either side, the second half began as the first one had ended – with the Villans defending deeply and in numbers.
However, it did not take long for the defence to be breached as Aguero’s bursting run down the right enabled him to cut back for Silva, who made a simple pass across goal for Toure to steer into the bottom corner in the forty-eighth minute of the match.
The inevitable claret and blue collapse ensued, with Richards unintentionally turning an attempted clearance in off Aguero to make it 2-0 just two minutes after Toure’s opener.
The visitors continued to defend in numbers and were unable to break quickly enough when in possession. Hutton over-hit his cross after fifty-six minutes and then, unmarked and crying out for the ball, he was let down by Agbonlahor, whose pass wound its way over the defender’s head.
Aguero bagged his brace on the hour mark, latching on to Silva’s lob and firing a low shot past Guzan at the near post.
Sterling replaced Bony after sixty-three minutes and made his presence felt immediately, testing Guzan with a looping effort.
Three minutes later, the substitute compounded the visitors’ misery with a tap in from close range to make it 4-0.
Garde made his first substitution with twenty minutes left to go, as Gestede came on in place of Agbonlahor.
Things went from bad to worse, as Clark fouled Iheanacho to concede a penalty. Aguero failed to score a hat-trick when his penalty shot struck the outside of the post. The miss was scant consolation for a visiting side that was already well beaten.
Sinclair replaced Ayew long after the game ended as a contest. This time, there would not even be a consolation goal and as the referee’s whistle blew, the claret and blue faithful were left to reflect on another depressing afternoon in which their team had managed only one shot on target and crumbled like a ruined tower.
Speaking post-match, Garde said:
“We collapsed totally in the second half after a good first half. The game plan was to defend well as long as we could, but as soon as they scored we collapsed again.
The first forty-five minutes was not entertaining but we knew it was the only solution for us. We had one chance in the first 45, and I told the players if we played like that we might get another.
We can do it but we have to be realistic, if we play like we did in the first half, we have a chance but if we play like in the second half, it is difficult.”