Among plenty of controversy and negative news, Manchester City were in dire need of some positives heading to the final of EFL Cup against Aston Villa.
In Premier League, City have only a theoretical chance of catching up with Liverpool already 22 points ahead and Aston Villa are in the middle of relegation battle, currently second to last in the league. The quality difference between the clubs is rather stunning, even if newly promoted Aston Villa did splash the cash upon return to the Premier League. According to Transfermarkt’s valuation, City’s squad is worth £1.16bn while Aston Villa’s is meager £235M.
The difference in quality was clearly visible in the EFL Cup final, with City fielding the likes of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Agüero. Villa went on with their number one starters and performed to a highest standard, still being outplayed by City. City took control of the game and kept the possession for 70% of the game, which was highly expected. Aston Villa were overwhelmed from the start and it took only 30 minutes for City to take a comfortable 0-2 lead. Sergio Agüero got on the score sheet first on 20th minute and Rodri added the second on the 30th.
While it looked all over at that point, Aston Villa fought back bravely. Mbwana Samata gave Villa a lifeline by the end of the first half and the underdog came close to equalizing in the final minutes of the game. City would’ve hoped to finish off the game earlier, but Aston Villa didn’t let go easy. The final score 1-2 was deserved, but could’ve been something else entirely with a bit of luck for Aston Villa.
It is obvious that Pep Guardiola and Manchester City have their sights set on other competition than the EFL Cup, but winning silverware in the troublesome times must be somewhat of a relief for the City faithful. Premier League is out of their hands, but in Champions League it’s all up for grabs – and as we know, that’s the only goal Guardiola cares about.