All the eyes of West London and the Merseyside were upon Etihad Stadium last night, as Liverpool and Chelsea fans alike were hoping that Manchester City would succumb to pressure of controlling their own destiny in the title race. Both sets of fans would watch helplessly as City sprinted to a 4-0 victory over bottom-half Aston Villa, collecting all four goals after the halftime interval.
Villa from the onset pinned themselves back in their own half, looking to play the roll of spoilers and defended well for an hour until the on-form Edin Džeko struck home a goal in the 64 minute and added in a second 8 minutes later to settle the tie.
City created a flurry of chances in the first half but Aston Villa’s defense held strong with American goalkeeper Brad Guzan making a couple of high quality saves to deny chances from Yaya Touré and Aleksander Kolarov. He was also aided with a bit of poor finishing from the City side, which saw Samir Nasri go wide off a volley on the near-post. Villa was able to create a very good chance on the break, with Jordan Bowery volleying wide off a cross from Andreas Weimann.
City continued to crank up the pressure in the second half and it seemed like it was only a matter of time until City were to score, to which the City fans were relieved to see Džeko turn home Pablo Zabaleta’s low cross.
Substitute Stevan Jovetic was able to score in the 85 minute and Touré got his name on the score sheet with a brilliant solo-run in injury time to put an exclamation point in the game.
The Manchester City victory closed the books on Chelsea’s outside chance of escaping with the title on the final day, and puts City in a position where they only need a point against West Ham (and keep their superior goal differential to Liverpool) to win their second Premier League crown in three years.
Even though some Chelsea fans may feel this season has been disappointing, especially with all the hype that surrounded the return of José Mourinho, I believe it should still be considered a success even without adding any silverware to the trophy cabinet.
This was one of the stronger league performances in recent years and it was the first time in four years where Chelsea were really in contention for winning the title. It certainly beats 2011/12’s sixth place performance and last year’s limp to third place in which Chelsea was well behind the title winners.
Chelsea also returned to the Champions League knockout stages and was bested by an extremely strong Atlético Madrid side. With time and with the leadership of Mourinho, their playing style should become much more fluid and consistent where they will be getting all three points against lower league sides.
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