Manchester : Manchester City reduced the points deficit with table-toppers Arsenal, as they defeated Aston Villa 3-1 on Sunday at Emirates Stadium in a match that saw their star striker Erling Haaland taken off with an apparent injury.
After a troublesome week which saw the club being hit with 100 charges of rule-breaking by the Premier League, Pep Guardiola's side roared back with a massive win. But Haaland, who has scored 25 goals for the side this season, was withdrawn at the break due to an apparent thigh injury, which puts his status for Wednesday's clash against Arsenal in doubt. At the start of the match, the Premier League anthem was met with heavy boos by City fans and there was clear determination in the players to prove a point following allegations of financial fair-play breaches.
Rodri scored in the fourth minute, celebrating his goal by thumping the club badge on his chest. City continued to dominate Aston for most of the first half. Rodgri also almost set up a second goal shortly after his goal, but Ilkay Gundogan's effort was saved.
The hosts continued to make chances for themselves, including Jack Grealish, who got close to scoring twice. In the 39th minute, Gundogan doubled City's lead. Haaland, who had not even registered a shot against Tottenham, caused massive damage to Aston after he accelerated onto a loose ball after a poor header from Chambers and made an assist to Gundogan at the far post.
City won a penalty just minutes before the break and Riyad Karim Mahrez stepped in to beat Emiliano Martinez to score. The scoreline read 3-0 at 45+1 minutes. By this time, Haaland also picked up a thigh issue and did not come out for the second half. Ruben Dias was also withdrawn and Julian Alvarez and Manuel Akanji joined the side on the pitch.
In the second half, City's defence became a little sloppy and Ollie Watkins made full use of it to score in the 61st minute, making the scoreline 3-1.
But Aston failed to make a comeback further into the game and lost the match.
After the match, Man City boss Pep was quoted as saying to Sky Sports, "We played a really good game. We played better in the second half. I had the feeling we were going to score more but after we concede always at 3-1 in the Premier League it is open, but in general we played a good game."
On Erling Haaland's injury scare, he said: "He had a big knock, he was comfortable and we did not want to take a risk. We will see and assess in the next days. If he is not ready [for Arsenal], we will play another one. Hopefully, he is ready like everyone - we will see in the next days. His presence is really good, he has to take a look a little bit more when we have pressure on the ball. When the opponent has a high line, we need to find him a bit more. That is a process, we will do it in the future."
On reducing the point deficit with Arsenal to just three, Pep said, "Finally when they drop we were there to reduce the distance as in the past when we could have put pressure on them we fail. When they dropped points, we fail - finally today we could do it."
Aston Villa boss Unai Emery also told Sky Sports: "We were very competitive away [in our previous games] but today we knew before that it was a tough match and it was like that. The first half, we were not competitive. They were also clinical but the mistakes were ours today. Three goals we could normally avoid in other matches."
"In the second half, we tried to be consistent on the pitch, tried to forget the result and to be again competitive and I think we did that. But in the first half they were better than us. They decided the match without mistakes."
"I can only say sorry to the supporters but we continue in our way. Our next match is our challenge, against Arsenal at home. We want to show our supporters a good performance," concluded Emery.
Manchester City is in the second position in the points table, with 48 points and 15 wins in 22 games. On the other hand, Aston Villa is in 11th position in the points table with 28 points and just eight wins in 22 matches.