By Sam Stone

14th Feb, 2023 | 7:49pm

View: Three mistakes Aston Villa made in Manchester City loss

Aston Villa suffered their second defeat on the spin as Manchester City ran away comfortable 3-1 winners at The Etihad on Sunday afternoon.

The game was wrapped up before halftime with City already three goals to the good before Ollie Watkins scored what was a consolation goal in the second period.

Although this was always going to be a hard game to win, Villa’s first-half performance was not up to the standard required and was easily the most disappointing to date under Unai Emery.

Here Villa News takes a look at three glaring issues which emerged from the defeat in Manchester.

Soft goals

Against Pep Guardiola’s team, you know you’re going to be under the cosh for the majority of the game, which is why you cannot gift them a lead. Defending set pieces is absolutely essential and sadly Villa failed at the first hurdle.


Rodri’s opening goal was schoolboy defending from Villa. City didn’t need to put a 20-pass move together or rely on a piece of Erling Haaland magic to put them in front. It was a simple delivery to the front post which was easily guided home by the Spaniard who was unmarked.

Boubacar Kamara completely loses the Manchester City midfielder, who makes a run to the front post. Ashley Young, who was guarding the area where Rodri scores from makes no attempt to challenge or contest the ball, which is a basic requirement. These are basic requirements which went missing right from the off and set the tone of what was going to be a long afternoon.

Villa have now conceded eleven goals from set-pieces, which is now the second-highest in the Premier League. It’s certainly an area for Emery to address.

Defensive shape

When a side visits the Etihad, they have to go there knowing that their defensive shape has to be absolutely spot on. Spurs were excellent last week at funnelling City’s main threats into areas they didn’t want to play in. The same cannot be said for Emery’s men.

The image above was Villa’s back four just before İlkay Gündoğan put Manchester City 2-0 up. Lucas Digne and Ashley Young are far too high up and not in a compact back four which Emery would want.

The screenshot below is an example of how Spurs’ backline remained compacted, despite playing relatively high up the field.

They were far more organised against City and considering their awful result which followed against Leicester City, they clearly aren’t too far ahead of Villa in terms of quality. The naivety of the Villans’ on Sunday was extremely concerning.


No matter what level of football, doing the basics correctly is absolutely essential and Aston Villa failed miserably at the Etihad. Their duel success rate was 10 per cent lower than their season average, along with the number of ball recoveries they attempted. Furthermore, their success rate when it came to aerial duels was significantly down (20 per cent) and their level of pressing was nearly twice as bad as what they’ve averaged this season.

We’ve seen sides go to the Etihad and be successful this season, but ensuring they’re doing all the basics defensively is an absolute must, and all the previously mentioned statistics show that Villa were a long way short, particularly in the first half.

In other Aston Villa news, the club face competition from Barcelona to secure the signing of a striker at the end of the season.