After escaping relegation the season before, Villa were a respectable 11th in the table with 44 points, well clear of the relegation zone and within a point of being mathematically safe. City had won 6-1 at Villa Park the previous season, and the home side were eager to erase the memory of that home thrashing.
The match was played amidst a backlash towards the blues and five other Premier League clubs, who had announced their intention to break away from the Premier League and for a European Super League. City were the first club to withdraw, and it was reported that the blues were not entirely enthusiastic about the plan. However, that didn’t stop anger being directed towards the club, and the spotlight was on the blues as they took to the Villa Park pitch.
And Villa wasted no time in getting stuck into the blues, with John McGinn scoring with barely 20 seconds on the clock. Ollie Watkins delivered a low cross and McGinn swept home the opening goal. Conceding so early would test City’s resolve, but they would rise to the challenge.
Phil Foden levelled for the blues in the 22nd minute, before Rodri headed City in front five minutes before have time.
Foden’s goal started at the back with Ederson pinging a 50-yard pass to Oleksandr Zinchenko on the left wing. The Ukraine international found Foden, who directed the ball to Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian released Bernardo Silva down the left and his cut-back was met by Foden, who guided home the equaliser.
Silva was also the provider for what turned out to be the winner. His cross from the City right found the Spaniard unmarked and, unchallenged, headed the ball over the keeper and into the goal.
A moment of madness ensued from John Stones four minutes later as he received his marching orders for the first time in his Premier League career. The defender went in high on Jacob Ramsey, and the referee issued a yellow card. On closer inspection and with help from VAR, the referee changed the colour of the card from yellow to red. Stones could have no complaints as it was a reckless and dangerous challenge that could have caused serious injury.
In the second half, Villa levelled up the numbers by having Matty Cash sent off. After losing the ball to Foden, Cash dived in and caught the City youngster. Having already received a yellow card, he too was sent for an early bath.
With no further goals to add, City secured their tenth successive away victory in the Premier League and moved 11 points clear of United in second.
Final score: Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City