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Guardiola Worries as City Struggle Against Aston Villa

Guardiola previously managed Barcelona or Bayern Munich, has been on the Manchester City bench since 2016, and has coached 535 duels in five elite European competitions. Never before in the league has his team produced just two shots on goal, as they did on Wednesday. Even 20 less than the opponent, which is the second negative record for the Spanish coach.

“One of the worst games we’ve seen from City. There was no flow and they were lucky not to concede two, maybe three or four goals,” former City defender Gael Clichy was quoted as saying by the BBC. “City were overpowered. It’s interesting to see how opponents have been playing against them lately. They have an appetite, they will share it with them in an open party; It worked for Chelsea, Tottenham and Villa,” added former Chelsea striker Pat Nevin.

The result itself is not a surprise, because Aston Villa is having an excellent season. Coach Unai Emery took them from the bottom of the table to the European Cup after his arrival last year, and the team from Birmingham are currently basking in third place, four points behind leaders Arsenal and two ahead of fourth-placed Manchester City. For Guardiola, it is precisely the performance of the game that is worrying.

And maybe also addiction to one man. Central midfielder Rodri, among other things the author of the only goal in the last Champions League final, was absent in four duels in the current season, and the City footballers lost all of them. “He’s obviously important for us, but we have to find a way to play when he’s not available. Yes, we would prefer to be top of the league, but unfortunately we have drawn three times now and lost the last time. We have to accept that Aston Villa was simply better,” Guardiola said on Wednesday.

On the contrary, Aston Villa’s footballers have already won fourteen home league games in a row, equaling the club record from 1931 and 1933. This season they celebrated a three-point win in 10 out of 15 duels, which is the most at this stage of the competition since the 1980/1981 season, when Villa last time she celebrated the title. According to Guardiola, Emery and his team can think about him again. “Especially because of the way they play. You see their pace, speed, bench, organization, set pieces, high press and middle block. They defend incredibly and have a good goalkeeper. They are certainly candidates for the title,” said the 52-year-old Spaniard on the City bench.

But Emery put the brakes on this view. “We are not candidates, there are seven other teams. We are only in the 15th round, we play Arsenal at home on Saturday. We have to focus. We are happy with the continuous third place, but it will be very difficult to maintain it. But of course we will try,” he said.

Anyway, Villa showed again on Wednesday that they are a force to be reckoned with. “It almost seemed that Emery had matured on Guardiola. The home side were better in all aspects of the game. Something is wrong with City, under normal circumstances they would have managed such a match,” commented former Wales captain Ashley Williams, who previously wore the jersey of Swansea or Everton.

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