Manchester City dispatched visitors Aston Villa 3-1 Sunday in front of a passionate Etihad crowd. The club wasted little time announcing their intentions by scoring three first-half goals en route to a comfortable thrashing of the Villans. Let’s have a look at the trending storylines coming out of this one.
Rúben Dias - It had been some time since the Portugal International saw his name on the starting lineup. Coincidentally, it had been some time since City looked as solid in central defence as they did in the first half against Villa. Dias has earned the chance to start again, and Pep said as much by pulling him when City were up 3-0 at the break.
Title Race - City had the Premier League title in their hands a week ago when leaders Arsenal FC lost away to Everton. Now the Gunners have dropped points again with a home draw with Brentford. Had City won their remaining games after Arsenal’s loss, there would have been nothing Mikal Arteta’s side could do. Now if City win out there would still be the possibility of the Londoners stealing the trophy on goal difference. The Mancunians currently hold a 6 goal advantage.
Etihad Atmosphere - More than a few have lamented the lack of energy at the Etihad over the years. I feel it can be overstated, but opposing fans have latched on to the narrative regardless. City are playing their 20th season at the old girl now, and the club have experienced their greatest successes in that time. It can take time for a ground to build an identity and certainly there need to be moments around which it can galvanize. The Premier League may well have provided one such moment to the City faithful.
New Rules - The Premier League is insisting that there is no ‘Third Man In’ rule, but Dias sure did get a yellow card for coming to talk to official Robert Jones and, wouldn’t you know it, he was the third man to do so. According to Matthew Holt of Manchester Evening News, “the FA and PGMOL are both set to stamp down on dissent in the game, if they feel a player comes over to challenge a decision by either their demeanor or by something they happen to say.” Seems like a slippery slope.
The EPL Anthem - I would just go ahead and drop it from the Etihad pre-match playlist mate. The City of Manchester Stadium was witness to lusty boos from MCFC supporters during the playing of the Premier League anthem before the match against Villa. Not much to say but get used to it I guess.
There you have it. What storylines do you have your eye on after the match against the Villans? Let us know in the comments.