Saturday 15th October and we were playing Villa at home. It was a surprisingly nice bright day and i arrived at the ground to hear team news that worried me slightly. David Silva, Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko all on the bench and Sergio Aguero not even in the squad. Starting 11 was Hart in net and the usual back four of Richards, Kompany, Lescott and Clichy, the holding midfielders were Barry (against his former club) and De Jong making his first start since his injury. The front four were Johnson and Milner (against his former club) and Yaya and Balotelli leading the line. Maybe we do have a strong deep squad now but to leave Silva and Nasrio both out made me wonder. The Villa starting 11 boasted 3 ex blues. Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland, and returning to the Etihad for the first time since he left, Shay Given. Each ex Blue received a good ovation from the city faithful, which is more than can be said for the ex Villa players in the city side.
The match started and straight away it was good to see De Jong back and sliding into Tackles hard, like he does, and again it came obvious that we were gonna have to play through the parked Villa camp and also the match quickly became Balotelli vs The Villa fans. Mario, trying to keep a ball in play, slipped right in front of the travelling Villa ranks, much to their entertainment, and they cheered loudly. Mario put his finger to his lips and he shushed them. Not long after that, Mario tested the returning Given with a shot that bounced awkwardly and Given had to usher it around the post. The villa fans again jeered out Italian superstar in waiting and he responded with a look that suggested "I'm going to get you sooner or later". He wasn't wrong.
29 minutes, A corner swung in, took a nick of Darren Bents head at the near post as he tried to defend it. It landed on the ample chest of Richards who chested it down thinking he could follow up with the finish, he was wrong, the ball had landed in Front of Mario with his back to goal, that didn't matter, because as the ball sat up, Mario opened the scoring with an audacious over head kick. Given was rooted to the spot as the ball nestled into the back of the net, but Mario was back on his feet to go celebrate his goal in front of the Villa fans who were mocking him no more. His city team mate came to celebrate with him, and also usher him away from the away fans. 4 goals in as many games now for Mario and the city strikers seemed to be sharing the wealth this season.
It was 1-0 at half time then but a minute into the second half the lead was doubled. A long ball from midfield over the Villa back four, and a missed over head attempted clearance from Warnock saw Johnson in with only Given to beat and with a first time attempt he casually rolled the ball into the bottom corner and Shay could only stand and watch, Johnson had now scored 2 in 2. My worries about the starting line up now subsided. On 51 minutes, a Johnson corner was met on the near post by captain Kompany who casually headed home City's third and now we were strolling. But for a few half chances, Villa hadn't really threatened but they managed a consolation from warnock.
The best goal of the game was yet to come. 70 Minutes and city had a 3 goal lead again. Milner picked the ball up on the left wing just inside the Villa half and he played a sublime pass, over to Johnson on the right wing, which he picked up near the corner flag. Johnson did what he did best and attacked the box and the villa left back, forcing him back into the penalty area, before laying the ball off to Barry, just outside the box. He rolled the ball across the front of the area for the advancing Milner who Cooley curled a right footed shot past the helpless Given to make it 4-0. Milner showed his class, first with the goal and second by not celebrating against his former employees, he left that to his team mates, and the sold out crowd.
Now this 4-1 victory brought a lot of pleasing things. Not only had we managed to rest a few of our best players for the upcoming crucial game in the Champions league vs Villareal, but we had showed just how strong and deep our squad now is. Again we'd scored 4 goals, like we did before the International break against Blackburn, and again we'd had 4 different goal scorers. But the most pleasing thing about today was the fact that down the M62, Manchester United had only managed a 1-1 draw against Liverpool, so this left us sitting 2 points clear, at the top of the league as we go into the Derby next weekend. When was the last time City had gone into the Manchester Derby not only above our Rivals, but top of the league ? This result, followed by an absolutely brilliant night out in Manchester with some good Friends, old and new, made this a very, VERY pleasing weekend. Thanks for reading.