Aston Villa vanquish the reigning champions in a 1-0 thriller – was this Pep Guardiola’s worst game as a manager or just another bad day at the office?
Is this Pep Guardiola worst game ever? After more than half a decade of trial and error, Pep Guardiola’s Man City side conquered all of Europe in 2023 and that too in some style – dropping the defending champions Los Blancos in a 4-0 squash at the Etihad along with a 4-1 win on aggregate against the German powerhouse, Bayern Munich. The addition of some of the hottest acquisitions into their roster such as Josko Gvardiol and Jeremy Doku left fans, pundits, and critics wondering if we’d be witnessing an even greater exhibition of relentless domination the following season.
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Having things turned out as expected? Have Man City truly run riot as we expected them to have?
Perhaps our expectations with respect to them were also unreasonably high as the departure of veteran Ilkay Gundogan to Barcelona along with Aymeric Laporte’s excursion to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia must’ve balanced out the squad depth and strength. The champions have had a rather average start in the Premier League, the unhinged beast in them has not been seen yet as they seem to drop points every now and then in the top flight. Draws against Chelsea, Liverpool, and Spurs coupled with a loss to Arsenal might lead to an impetus of genuine signs of concern.
Just 3 Points ahead of Man United
As ridiculous as it may sound, the Sky Blues only sit at a difference of three points with Manchester United. The latter have found themselves in a horror show with a lot of speculation around Erik Ten Hag’s future being put to question. Despite their egregious season so far, they sit at the sixth spot on the table, just 3 points away from their local rivals City who are seated at the fourth spot – both teams having played 15 games.
Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City
The 4-4 and 3-3 draw against Chelsea and Spurs respectively were all-round thrillers for general premier league fans. But for the City fans – they couldn’t help but scratch their hands at what just happened. However, they would be in for an even bigger surprise as Aston Villa left the Champions begging for mercy in a 1-0 loss. The scoreline looks very generic on paper for those who did not get a chance to watch the game live but as we delve into the specifics, that’s when the good, bad, and the downright ugly are filtered out.
Pep Guardiola worst game ever?
When you have someone with the caliber of Erling Haaland up front, tallying just 2 shots on target across 90 minutes is simply a monumental bummer. That said, with a highly compact 3 at the back defense with Manuel Akanji and John Stones playing as holding midfielders had all the ingredients for a good defensive output in the game but alas, there was too much salt! Aston Villa managed to register 22 shots, with 7 on target also shaping an xG of 2.38, in contrast to Man City’s measly 0.65 which puts Guardiola’s howler of a night under even more scrutiny.
One might argue that perhaps Pep’s 4-0 loss against Real Madrid in the 2013/14 season as Bayern Munich’s manager is his worst day at the office. However, strictly analyzing the technical and statistical aspect of the game – it can be said that he at least managed to put up a fight against the eventual champions of that edition. In that game against Real Madrid, his Bayern side managed 19 shots compared to Real’s 13, covered 112.7km as opposed to Real’s 109.4 and had an overall possession of 64% in that game. In retrospect, that was a very good night for the Bavarians – what held them back was a vengeful Sergio Ramos and a clutch CR7.
Should This Worry Man City Fans?
Having established that this was perhaps one of Guardiola’s biggest debacles, if not the biggest – the question looms over our heads, should Man City fans be worried?
As established earlier, they only sit a difference of 3 points with local rivals United and while they have been brilliant in the Champions League, they are in for some serious competition in their ambitions to make it four in a row in the annual domestic warfare – the Premier League. However, there seem to be some formidable contenders for the grandest prize in European football, the Champions League such as Real Madrid who’ve been in brilliant form along with an invigorated Bayer Leverkusen side. Manchester City have struggled against top sides in the Premier League so who’s to say they won’t against foreign sides in Europe? Going from here, this definitely is a worrisome sign for the Sky Blues and their adherents.
Does this mean a goodbye to the title race? Having instilled a lot of pessimism into our Man City scrollers, (We’re sorry!) there were still some positives to take from the game. For instance, Man City still had control of the possession at 54% and completed a total of 520 passes with an accuracy of 87% as opposed to Villa’s 436 with 85% accuracy.
It seems the Midfield managed to do their job well but the front and back lines have some work to do. It must also be noted that Man City have this superstitious power to not lose games or come up with blunders during the second half of the season as has been the trend in the last two years so cutting them out of the title race may just be an unpopular take in the realm of prophecies.
How Did Aston Villa violate Man City so easily?
Since the Unai Emery revolution, Aston Villa have been terrific. After securing a spot in the Europa Conference League last season, there seemed to be some encouraging signs for Jack Grealish’s former team. So far, they sit at third on the table with a difference of four points with league leaders Arsenal. Having beaten London’s top 1% sides Chelsea and Spurs this season, their side seems to show a lot of promise and we’d be in for a good treat if they continue this way as we all love a diverse top six in the Premier League, don’t we?