Manchester City move closer to claiming Premier League title
One point against West Ham on Sunday will see Manuel Pellegrini’s team crowned champions after victory over Aston Villa
Edin Dzeko of Manchester City celebrates scoring the opening goal during their Premier League match against Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Manchester City 4
Aston Villa 0
For Manchester City, everything is now in place. Manuel Pellegrini’s team took their time before showing why they are champions-in-waiting, with the open-top bus parade already pencilled in for Monday, but they finished this match wonderfully and the bottom line now is that one more point in their final game will be enough for the coronation.
That comes on Sunday against West Ham and what an irony that it will be a year to the day that City lost to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final and loud, impassioned chants went around Wembley informing the club’s owners in Abu Dhabi they could “stick your Pellegrini up your arse”.
A year on, City are enjoying the view from the top of the table and Pellegrini is on the verge of completing the job he was assigned when he was brought in to replace Roberto Mancini.
They made their crowd wait and it was not until the 64th minute that Edin Dzeko settled everyone down with the opening goal but, after that, we were reminded why City are on the verge of returning the championship trophy to their part of Manchester. Dzeko’s second goal arrived within seven minutes.
The songs are very different now and if they complete their work this weekend, Steven Gerrard may have to grow painfully accustomed to the cruel new ditty commemorating Demba Ba’s goal in Liverpool’s defeat by Chelsea. One fan had made a banner for the occasion showing Gerrard and the words: “Caution, We Must Not Let it Slip.”
Yet, for the most part, there was no great sense of triumphalism. Liverpool’s fans have been bellowing out “we’re going to win the league” for the last couple of months. It is more reserved at the Etihad, almost as if the crowd still do not entirely trust the team to lapse into old ways. At times, there was the distinct feel of anxiety in the air.
Pellegrini’s players spent most of the opening 45 minutes in the opposition half but Villa defended en masse and the longer it stayed goalless the greater the crowd’s apprehension. Yaya Toure had an early chance to soothe the mood but his goal-bound shot was blocked by Ron Vlaar and the rest of the first half brought enough frustrations for the team to start looking listless.
A team in Villa’s position could easily have slipped into end-of-season mode but in fairness to Paul Lambert’s side it quickly became clear this was not going to be a rollover.