If ever a fixture was destined to end City’s abysmal run of away form, then this was it. Villa Park was the scene of the blues’ only other away win in 2006 and the Villains have become something of a pleasure to play against in recent years. Prior to this game, City were unbeaten in ten games against Villa, a statistic that seemed to affect a Villa side that had yet to lose at home this season.
City started like the proverbial house on fire as the team looked determined to prove that Saturday’s defeat at Liverpool was a clear case of rough justice. Samaras and Vassell forced early saves from Villa keeper, Stuart Taylor, before Vassell continued his personal vendetta against his ex-employees, notching a fifth goal in five games against the side he both supported and played for.
Instead of sitting back on the lead the blues continued to dominate throughout the first 45 and it came as no surprise when they doubled their lead on 32 minutes, Joey Barton firing home to finsh off a slick move involving Distin and Samaras.
Villa’s first chance of the half didn’t arrive until the stroke of half-time, such was City’s dominance, Petrov hitting the underside of the bar from a fierce free-kick.
The second half saw Villa come out of their shell a little, more so after the introduction of Davis. McCann managed to pull one back for Villa on 66 minutes with a long range curler and they briefly threatend to make a game of it.
All chance of a Villa comeback was extinguished however when Distin scored a fine individual effort on 75 minutes. The centre half picked up the ball just outside his own 18 yard box, exchanged passes with Samaras on half way before taking the ball past Ridgewell and firing a screamer beyond Taylor in the Villa goal.
At 3-1 Villa were seen off and the game put to bed. City’s tale of woe on the road was ended at the scene of their last away day triumph.
Pearce got the tactics spot on this time. City cannot play five in midfield, they simply do not have the resources to support a lone front man.
Here Samaras and Corradi were reunited and City looked better for the renewal of their increasingly improving partnership.
It’s hard to judge the Villa on just one game, but on last night’s evidence it seems as if the new owner needs to spend in January to sustain their european push.
Watford (h) – Monday 5th December 2006 8pm.