Champions Manchester City returned to the summit of the Premier League for the first time since being crowned last May with an emphatic 5-0 demolition of a vapid Aston Villa.
Déjà vu was a welcome companion for Roberto Mancini’s marauders as history repeated. Rewind to October 2011 – City won 4-1 and sat aloft the English game for the next 22 weeks.
A similar table-topping exercise – plus the addition of a few more weeks – would once again see City in a sky blue heaven with the retention of their precious PL title.
Ask any City fan what single trophy they want come May 2013 and you’ll get the same answer – PL champs two years on the bounce. Do that and Mancini has a mandate to go again in 2014 – forget Guardiola, Mourinho and the untried, but oft mentioned, Uncle Tom Cobley!
It took City 44 minutes to register their opening goal – a testimony to a stoical Villa defence and some over engineered City attacking. Intricate, ornate call it what you will, City’s approach play is for the purists.
That said, David Silva’s first goal of the campaign was as scrappy as a cat fight in a fishmonger’s dustbins. The silky Spaniard connected inside the Villa six-yard box after the ball ricocheted off Kompany and Tevez.
A thing of beauty it definitely was not, but 1-0 is 1-0 in any language.
It followed a half of complete Manchester domination apart from a testing Christian Benteke header that allowed Joe Hart to demonstrate his undoubted class after his midweek Swede bashing with England.
The half time whistle was nothing more than a stay of execution while City’s sharpshooters gathered their weapons and munitions aplenty.
But it was more of a phantom arm than an armory that lit the blue touch paper for the City onslaught, begging the question when is a penalty not a penalty? The answer – when there’s no offence and no appeals!
An inswinging Silva corner was adjudged to have been handled by Andreas Weimann when it had actually been headed by City’s Matija Nastasic.
Pragmatic Aguero placed the ball on the penalty spot as Villa protested their innocence, before proceeding to expertly dispatch seconds later. It was harsh on Villa.
City had been denied four penalties the previous week against Ajax and Spurs but, as welcome as this was, it was hardly adequate ‘compensation’.
10 minutes later and another City penalty. Barry Bannan handballed and Tevez executed after Aguero deferred to his countryman. Obviously no team spirit at City as the Argentine strikers shared the goals around!
If Villa were a boxer at this point the legs had gone and the eyes were beginning to glaze. City on the other wanted a knockout…and a stylish one at that. Aguero obliged within two minutes with a sublime blow to Villa’s solar plexus.
Ripping the punch drunk Brummie rearguard apart, the pocket battleship zipped down the right side channel into the Villa box and whizzed his low shot through the tightest of angles at Guzan’s near post. It defied the rules of trigonometry, but go figure.
Aguero left the arena to rapturous applause in readiness for Real Madrid. Dzeko entered the slaughter with Kolarov and Sinclair following soon after for Clichy and Silva.
Tevez delivered the coup de grace with a simple tap in following Nasri’s low probing cross in the 73rd minute.
The Villains had sought to resist stoutly but to no avail. City were imperious with 67% possession and 26 attempts on goal.
They once again boast the best defence in the PL and are fast closing in on being two years unbeaten at home in the PL. Ironically it was Villa’s less illustrious neighbours, Birmingham who last stopped City scoring at the Etihad…on November 13, 2010.
As much as the victory had been anticipated, who could have foreseen a decent no nonsense refereeing performance from PL novice Jon Moss. No posturing, no outbreaks of self-importance, just an official going about his business in an unobtrusive manner.
Maybe we should sign him up before Fergie swoops?
Joking apart, a 5-0 win, top of the table, the Canaries stuffing a bunch of turkeys and the best still yet to come from Mancini’s men…oh I never felt more like singing the blues…