Football Features

Aguero eclipses Shearer record as Man City thrash Aston Villa to reclaim second place

By Chris Smith

Aston Villa 1-6 Man City | Premier League

Published: 18:24, 12 January 2020

In a one-sided afternoon of football, Manchester City dismantled Aston Villa 6-1 away from home to move up to second in the Premier League table.

The Citizens delivered Pep Guardiola‘s 300th top-flight win as a manager in style with a Riyad Mahrez brace, a record-breaking Sergio Aguero hat-trick and another goal for Gabriel Jesus – we even had time for yet more Kevin De Bruyne brilliance in midfield.

Anwar El Ghazi was able to score a late consolation from the penalty spot but thanks to Watford’s win over Bournemouth earlier in the day, Villa drop into the bottom three.

So, what did we learn from Sunday’s encounter at Villa Park?

1. Aguero finally sets record

If ever there was a world-class striker in the Premier League that doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of credit he deserves, it’s definitely Aguero.

The Argentine sensation has been a ruthless menace in front of goal for years now and there’s no doubting City would have achieved but a mere fraction of their success if he wasn’t around. But someway, somehow, he often gets overlooked when debating the very best Premier League strikers of all time.

Well, on Sunday, he put yet another mark on the history books to move his name further up that particular discussion, firing home in real style in the 28th minute to put City 3-0 up at Villa Park.

In doing so, he drew level with none other than Thierry Henry as the Premier League‘s highest-scoring overseas player with 175 goals – Aguero hit that mark three games quicker than the Frenchman for good measure.

But this is Sergio Aguero we’re talking about here. Equalling records and sharing the podium is simply not in his make-up. Of course, 12 minutes after half-time, he picked the ball up in the 18-yard box, ghosted past a few Villa defenders with ease and picked his spot to increase that tally to 176.

And in the final 10 minutes, just to make sure that this time, we were all going to be talking about him, Aguero slammed home his third for a record-breaking 12th Premier League hat-trick, moving beyond Alan Shearer’s tally of 11.

Time to start up that “greatest Premier League striker” debate again…

2. Mahrez continues to stake his claim

Is there a more prestigious, expensive back-up player in the Premier League than Mahrez right now?

The Algeria international cost City a pretty £60m when he signed from Leicester City in July 2018 but understandably, given the talent level at the Etihad right now, he’s not had it all his own way.

Aston Villa vs Man City: Full player ratings

However, on Sunday, he continued to show just how brilliant he actually is, bagging two goals in the space of six minutes – one to finish off a powerful solo run into the box, the other a simple finish after some dogged work in the Villa box by Aguero – to give City a commanding lead.

That’s 13 direct goal involvements (seven goals and six assists) in just 18 Premier League appearances so far this season for Mahrez and although Raheem Sterling is likely to be restored to Guardiola‘s starting XI soon, it might not be at the former Leicester man’s expense on this form.

3. Knockout blow

Despite their relegation fears, Villa have actually put in some strong performances so far this season. However, things are starting to look bleak for Smith, especially on Sunday afternoon’s evidence.

In all honesty, this game was over before it had even begun, with Villa’s shape simply not set to stop City’s most dangerous players. Rodri was able to pick the ball up at the base of midfield and far too easily turn before firing pinpoint passes into his more creative teammates.

Once the likes of David Silva and De Bruyne received possession, they were given the freedom of Villa to park to run at the opposition defence or simply split them open with a physics-defying pass. And the less said about Aguero and Jesus running riot in the 18-yard box the better.

There will be far easier opportunities for Villa to pick up points this season, of course. However, Smith got his tactics horrendously wrong today – you need only look at his side’s nail-biting attempts to play out from the back for that – leaving his players with little chance of laying a glove on City.

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4. More De Bruyne wizardry

De Bruyne is simply magic and he showed it yet again in the Midlands on Sunday.

The Belgian had already threatened to bend a few spoons with a mind-boggling through-ball early in the first half but unfortunately, on that occasion, the City forward line were unable to make anything of it.

However, cometh first-half stoppage time, cometh the man. De Bruyne picked the ball up on the right-hand side, looked up and spotted the run of Jesus at the far post. What happened next? Well, we all know what De Bruyne does here – pings an inch-perfect, trademark pass right into the Brazilian’s path, allowing Jesus to easily finish and make it 4-0.

Every rock band needs a lead guitarist of face-melting proportions and every world-class team needs a string-puller of De Bruyne‘s god-like brilliance. Guardiola is not short in this department.

5. Unhappy return for Drinkwater

With his laser-like long passes and defence-splitting brilliance during Leicester City’s title-winning season, few could have foreseen the fall from grace Danny Drinkwater has had to endure.

Such has been his lack of game time since leaving the King Power Stadium, this was the third time Drinkwater has faced City in his last three Premier League games and this is certainly one meeting with the defending champions he will want to forget.

First, he was dribbled past with ease by former teammate Mahrez for the opening goal, then he was horrifically caught in possession in his own box by Aguero for the Algerian’s second of the game.

City’s next two goals – scored by Aguero and Jesus – both saw Drinkwater dribbled past as if he wasn’t there, clearly indicating the 29-year-old is simply lightyears away from match fitness.

Drinkwater actually posted a respectable pass completion rate of 88 per cent and moved the ball better than most of his teammates but he was easily overrun in midfield and it cost Villa dearly here.

Back to the gym, Danny.