Dean Smith
WALSALL, ENGLAND - JULY 24: Dean Smith, manager of Aston Villa looks on prior to the Pre-Season Friendly match between Walsall and Aston Villa at Banks's Stadium on July 24, 2019 in Walsall, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Aston Villa’s four-match unbeaten run came to end as they lost to Premier League champions Manchester City. City eventually overpowered a spirited Villa team, led by Dean Smith, thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan. The result sees Villa drop to 14th in the Premier League while City maintain second place.

Dean Smith and Aston Villa Lose Unbeaten Streak

Manchester City Show Their Class

Despite a fantastic first-half performance, Aston Villa couldn’t manage to keep Manchester City quiet for too long. It took City just 20 seconds of the second half to break the deadlock. An excellent flick-on from Gabriel Jesus saw Raheem Sterling run through on goal and fire the ball past Tom Heaton.

City then seized control with a controversial second goal. A short corner saw Kevin De Bruyne cross one of his dangerous balls which David Silva flicked past Tom Heaton. However, Raheem Sterling was impeding the view of Heaton. The goal at the time was given to Kevin De Bruyne so VAR couldn’t intervene, leaving Villa and Dean Smith frustrated once again.

The home side sealed their win with an excellent half volley from Ilkay Gundogan after Villa failed to clear their lines. It was a tough second half but plenty of positives for Smith and his team to take ahead of a crucial week of fixtures. Villa face local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in the League Cup before hosting Premier League leaders Liverpool next weekend.

Aston Villa Continuing to Learn Harsh Lessons

Despite their eventual loss, there were plenty of positives for the Villains to take. Aston Villa were disciplined, organised and lively in what was an excellent first-half performance. City struggled to break them down and forced one save out of Heaton. If anything, Villa had the better chances in the first half with John McGinn denied by an excellent save and Trezeguet had several shots blocked. They could and maybe should have had a spot-kick with after Trezeguet’s shot appeared to hit John Stones hands twice.

However, the Villains were given a very harsh lesson immediately from the kick-off. Keeping concentration is key and ultimately one lapse from Tyrone Mings cost Villa. Despite his mistake, the Villa centre half was excellent and certainly made up for his error with a spectacular clearance to deny Gabriel Jesus.

Villa struggled to any real create any chances after going behind and their best opportunity came once the game was out of sight. McGinn struck a post after Keinan Davis was denied by Ederson. Dean Smith will be looking to improve Villa’s counter-attacking, with the Villains struggling to create chances. Striker Wesley struggled to hold the ball up and ultimately, he must improve because several times he conceded possession. That concession of the ball ultimately saw Villa struggle to get up the pitch and out their half.

Plenty of Positives for Dean Smith Despite Their Loss

Smith will be delighted with what he saw from his team despite their loss. Heaton was solid in goal while Mings, Bjorn Engels, Frederic Guilbert and Matt Targett were outstanding, especially in that first half. Marvelous Nakamba looks a terrific signing by Smith. The Zimbabwe international has firmly become a fixture in the Villa midfield since making his debut. He broke downplay and got Villa motoring forward. Douglas Luiz also impressed on his first return to Manchester City since leaving them in the summer.

Aston Villa can take plenty of positives and will relish playing Wolves and Liverpool in the next week. The shackles will firmly come off against Wolves with a quarter-final place up for grabs. Leaders Liverpool will pose another stern test for Smith’s team and again like City, it’s going to need a passionate, determined performance. It could give a good indication as to where Villa’s season is heading.

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