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West Ham United
7 May 2014
• Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Referee: M. Oliver
• Attendance: 47023
E. Džeko 64', 72'
S. Jovetić 89'
Y. Touré 90'+
Judgement day beckons on Sunday for Manchester City where they will be hoping to avoid the dramatics and twists of their 2012 finale against QPR. Aston Villa will also be hoping to end their season on a high and they have the opportunity to deny Tottenham a Europa League place when they travel to White Hart Lane. That's all from me, Max Bentley, on this live commentary. Until next time, goodbye.
Manchester City have now scored 100 goals in the Premier League this season. What a terrific achievement from Manuel Pellegrini's side. West Ham are now the only team standing between them and the Premier League title.
FT: Manchester City 4-0 Aston Villa. The Villa wall stood firm for 64 minutes but eventually it crumbled thanks to strikes from Edin Dzeko (2), Stevan Jovetic and Yaya Toure. Manuel Pellegrini's side are now just one point away from lifting their second Premier League title in three years.
90' + 3'
VINTAGE GOAL FROM TOURE! The Ivorian wraps up a perfect night for Manchester City as he rampages through the Villa midfield before keeping his nerve and slotting the ball beyond Guzan. There is simply no stopping him when he is in that type of mood. That's his 20th goal of the season.
90' + 2'
Villa are looking to put a blemish on City's performance by ruining their clean sheet. However, it seems that they will emerge unsuccessful as Delph's shot is well blocked by Kompany.
90' + 1'
Manchester City are looking to complete their Premier League century of goals in the closing minutes but Baker produces a crucial header to prevent Negredo latching onto Jovetic's instinctive pass.
Yellow CardStevan Jovetic
JOVETIC MAKES IT 3-0! Yaya Toure is the architect as he tiptoes his way around several Villa shirts in the box before coolly picking out Jovetic and the Montenegrin makes no mistake as he rolls an inch-perfect shot beyond Guzan's grasp and into the bottom corner. That's Premier League goal No.99 for the season for Manchester City.
Paul Lambert also decides to make a final change and he hands a debut to Jack Grealish who comes on for Ryan Bertrand. The Chelsea loanee will be relieved to be having an early bath, he has been run ragged by Zabaleta today.
Manuel Pellegrini makes his final change of the game and it is a standing ovation for Edin Dzeko as he is replaced by Alvaro Negredo. The Spaniard has not scored since the League Cup semi-final thumping over West Ham.
Aston Villa are pushing bodies forward in search of a possible comeback but it seems that it is too little too late for Paul Lambert's side. Alvaro Negredo is stripped on the touchline for the hosts.
WEIMANN HITS THE BAR! Manchester City survive a late scare as Hart flaps nervously at El Ahmadi's free kick from the right. Robinson heads the ball back across goal for Weimann but his effort crashes against the underside of the crossbar and to his disbelief, not over the line. That would have set up a nervy finish.
Robinson looks to make an immediate impact as he plays a ball over the top of the Manchester City defence for Weimann to chase. However, Demichelis reacts quickly to the danger and shows a good turn of pace to get to the ball ahead of the Austrian.
Paul Lambert is always willing to give youngsters a chance and he introduces 19-year-old forward Callum Robinson in place of Ciaran Clark.
Jovetic has made a bright impact since coming off the bench but he cannot get his name on the scoresheet as his low shot from the edge of the box is well saved by Guzan.
STAT: Manchester City have recorded more Premier League wins against Aston Villa (18) than any other side. Barring a late Crystal Palace-style comeback, it seems that will become 19.
With the three points seemingly in the bag, Manuel Pellegrini decides to wrap up David Silva in cotton wool by replacing him with Fernandinho.
Yellow CardCiaran Clark
Ciaran Clark becomes the second Villa player to be cautioned after he brings down Jovetic following the Montenegrin's mazy run on the edge of the box. Yaya Toure steps up to take the free kick but Clark atones for his error by deflecting the ball behind for a corner.
DZEKO MAKES IT 2-0! The Premier League title is getting closer for Manchester City now and it is Zabaleta again who causes the damage down the right. The Argentine escapes the surveillance of Bertrand once again before cutting the ball back into Nasri's path. The France midfielder's first-time shot is well saved by Guzan but Dzeko is on hand to tap in from a few yards out. That's his 16th league goal of the season.
What do Manchester City do now? Do they preserve their one-goal lead and park the bus Mourinho-style or do they push on for more goals Rodgers-style? Aston Villa have 21 minutes to find the equaliser.
STAT: Manchester City have now scored 97 Premier League goals this season. Only Liverpool have more (99).
You can sense the relief around the Etihad and you can see how much it means to the Manchester City players as they swarmed Dzeko following that goal. As things stand, Manchester City lead Liverpool at the top of the Premier League by two points and a point against West Ham at the weekend would see them crowned champions for a second time in three years.
DZEKO GIVES MANCHESTER CITY THE LEAD! The Citizens pressure finally pays off and it is that man again, Edin Dzeko, with the goal. Silva produces a wonderful slide pass to pick out Zabaleta down the right and he escapes brilliantly from Bertrand before his inch-perfect low cross is tapped in at close range by the Bosnia international. The Etihad erupts.
Zabaleta continues to power his way down the right-hand side for Manchester City but the Argentine cannot provide the opener on this occasion as Dzeko sends his volley wide of the target, under pressure from the ever-present Vlaar. Manuel Pellegrini responds by throwing on Stevan Jovetic for his 13th Premier League appearance, in place of James Milner. Negredo continues to warm up on the touchline.
Jordan Nathaniel Bowery
Paul Lambert decides to make his first change of the game as Jordan Bowery is replaced by Leandro Bacuna. The Dutch defender, who scored a terrific free kick against Man City earlier in the season, will be asked to combat those powerful runs of Kolarov down the wing.
GOOD SAVE FROM GUZAN! Kolarov steps up to the resulting free kick, hoping to replicate one of his trademark left-footed efforts. However, Guzan reads the flight of the ball excellently and flings himself to his left to palm it away from the top corner.
Yellow CardFabian Delph
Fabian Delph picks up the first booking of the game after a crunching challenge on Silva. That seems a little harsh on the recently-voted Villa player of the year as he got plenty on the ball there.
The Manchester City fans look on anxiously as Negredo and Jovetic warm up on the touchlines. The Citizens certainly do not like to do things the easy way. Will we see another QPR moment today?
KOMPANY DENIED! The Citizens continue to pepper the Villa goal and the captain nearly leads by example as he latches onto Silva's header inside the box. However, his well-executed overhead kick is well parried by Guzan before Vlaar steps in to clear the danger. Manchester City are getting closer.
CHANCE FOR DZEKO! The Bosnian striker times his run superbly to break the offside trap and latch onto Toure's lofted pass. However, he cannot bring the ball down into his stride and it runs through for Guzan to gratefully claim, much to the frustration of the home fans.
Manchester City win a free kick out on the right but Nasri's teasing cross is excellently hooked clear by El Ahmadi. Can this Villa defence hold on for another 42 minutes?
Manchester City are quick out of the blocks at the beginning of the second half and Toure produces a pinpoint pass to pick out Zabaleta's trademark run down the right. The Argentine looks to cushion a header into the path of Silva but Clark reads the danger excellently and makes the interception. The home fans appeal optimistically for a penalty but the referee is not interested.
The two teams re-emerge from the tunnel for the second half and Manchester City get the game back underway. There have been no substitutions at the break.
As for Aston Villa, they will be hoping for another 45 minutes of the same defensive resolve and spirit. Paul Lambert's side have only kept four clean sheets since the turn of the year, can they make it five?
Although he has recently been sidelined by injury, Manuel Pellegrini will be expecting more from David Silva in the second half. The Spaniard has been a peripheral figure in the first half, with Manchester City's most dangerous attacking threat coming through the marauding runs of Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta from full back. An early goal in the second half would certainly help to settle the growing nerves at the Etihad Stadium. A big 45 minutes in the title race awaits.
HT: Manchester City 0-0 Aston Villa. It's hardly the goalfest that many predicted as Paul Lambert's side have defended valiantly to frustrate the Citizens attack. Manuel Pellegrini's side have gone close on several occasions, with Yaya Toure, David Silva and Samir Nasri all spurning decent openings but Villa have looked a threat themselves on the counterattack. Is there still hope for Liverpool yet?
45' + 1'
WHAT A CHANCE FOR NASRI! Manchester City have a golden chance to take the lead before the break as Dzeko plays a clever reverse pass to feed in Milner down the right. The England international picks out Nasri with an accurate, fizzed cross but the Frenchman somehow puts the ball the wrong side of the near post. That should have been 1-0.
Manuel Pellegrini's side just cannot find a way beyond this organised Villa defence at the moment and the crowd respond with groans as Zabaleta's dangerous low cross is well blocked. Sergio Aguero looks on miserably from the touchline - how the Manchester City fans must be wishing that he was available.
This five-man Villa defence continues to frustrate the hosts as they head clear a number of crosses from wide areas. However, it is worth pointing out that Manchester City have scored 15 goals in their last five matches at the Etihad. Can they break down the Villa resistance before the half-time whistle?
There is another stoppage in play now as Baker receives a spot of treatment following a collision with his own goalkeeper. It looks like a minor knock and he should be able to continue.
SILVA DENIED! Yaya Toure is the architect as his defence-splitting pass picks out Zabaleta inside the box. The Argentine squares the ball for Silva but his first touch uncharacteristically lets him down in front of goal and gives Vlaar time to fling himself in front of the shot.
This is a brilliant spell for the visitors but Bowery cannot provide the opening goal of the game as he fails to anticipate Weimann's dangerous ball across the box and the chance breaks down. The Manchester City supporters are beginning to show signs of frustration.
Villa are starting to show some attacking urgency now and Weimann speeds away from the Manchester City defence following a home corner before his diagonal drive skids beyond Hart's dive and inches past the post. Can Paul Lambert's side make one of these chances count?
Manchester City immediately attack down the other end with Toure but his chipped pass over the Villa defence is excellently defended by Vlaar who prevents Dzeko from converting from close range.
VILLA HAVE AN ATTACK! Paul Lambert's side have hardly ventured out of their half in the opening 31 minutes but they nearly take the lead with their first attack of the game. Delph combines brilliantly with Weimann to escape down the left and his cross picks out Bowery at the back post. However, the 22-year-old scuffs his volley after Kolarov had slipped and watches the ball bounce agonisingly wide of the post. Let-off for Manchester City.
Zabaleta is almost playing as a right winger at the moment and he escapes beyond Bertrand excellently, only to see his floated cross well plucked out of the air by Guzan. Hart has been a mere spectator in this match so far.
The Villa players are in no rush to get the ball in play and their lackadaisical approach is beginning to frustrate the home crowd who think they are timewasting. Manchester City win another corner, this time from the right, but yet again, Villa defend resolutely and clear the danger.
Manchester City continue to attack without relent but they are struggling to break down the Villa resistance. Milner sees his low drive blocked by Lowton before Kolarov frustrates the home crowd by firing a cross wildly out of play.
Nasri is starting to have more of an influence on this game now and he combines neatly with Silva on the edge of the box to make space for a goalscoring opportunity. However, the France midfielder cannot wrap his foot around the ball enough and his curling effort goes narrowly wide of the far post.
Nasri delivers a dangerous corner from the left and just as it looks like Toure will head home, Baker gets up brilliantly to powerfully head clear. The Villa defence continues to stand firm.
CHANCE FOR MANCHESTER CITY! Kolarov is causing problems down the left-hand side and he gets away from Lowton brilliantly before whipping a dangerous cross into the box. Silva attempts to divert the ball beyond Guzan with an instinctive flick at the near post but his cheeky effort is well smothered by the American goalkeeper.
There is a stoppage in play here as Bowery receives treatment following a collision with Kolarov. The 22-year-old striker will be keen to seize his opportunity today, especially in Agbonlahor's absence.
STAT: Aston Villa have won their last three league matches on a Wednesday.
We've played the opening quarter of an hour in Manchester and Liverpool fans will be quietly satisfied that this game is still goalless. Although Villa have hardly posed a goal threat, they have dealt well with Manchester City and in particular, David Silva, to this point.
GREAT SAVE FROM GUZAN! Zabaleta produces one of his typical marauding runs to collect the ball on the right corner of the box and he cuts the ball back brilliantly for Toure. The Ivorian looks to add to his 19-goal league tally but his shot, heading for the bottom corner, is excellently pushed wide by Guzan's desperate left boot. That was close.
Aston Villa have hardly touched the ball since the kick-off but they attempt to stem the Man City flow by enjoying their own spell of sustained possession. Without Benteke and Agbonlahor, it's difficult to see where the goals will come for the visitors today.
The home side are sensing the opener here and moments after Vlaar gets a crucial toe on the ball to prevent Dzeko latching onto Kolarov's slide pass, Kompany heads narrowly wide from a corner.
It's all Manchester City in the opening eight minutes as Manuel Pellegrini's side look to ease some of the pressure with an early goal. A loud rendition celebrating Gerrard's slip against Chelsea echoes around the ground.
CHANCE FOR MANCHESTER CITY! Edin Dzeko notched twice in the 3-2 win over Everton at the weekend and he produces a clever run to meet Toure's incisive pass. However, the Bosnian cannot get the better of Guzan as his shot is well palmed away by the American goalkeeper from a narrow angle. Kolarov then tries his luck from outside the box but watches the ball flash wide of the target.
Manchester City are making their intentions clear from the off as they pour forward in blue waves. However, they need to be careful that they do not commit too many bodies forward as Aston Villa have plenty of pace on the counterattack. Delph looks to achieve just that as he spots the run of Weimann from deep but Kompany anticipates the play expertly to make the interception.
It's a slow start at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City patiently pass the ball around, waiting for a gap to appear. David Silva appeals for a penalty when he goes down inside the box under a challenge from Westwood but the referee waves play on.
It's a wet night in Manchester as Aston Villa get the game underway. Can Paul Lambert's side be the party poopers and dent Manchester City's seemingly inevitable charge to the title?
The two teams emerge from the tunnel to a great reception from both sets of fans. Captains Vincent Kompany and Ron Vlaar lead the handshakes between the respective sides. Tonight's referee is Michael Oliver.
Manchester City have won 15 of their 17 home league matches this season, with only Chelsea and Sunderland coming away with points. Four goals for Manuel Pellegrini's side tonight will take them to 100 Premier League goals for the season.
However, Aston Villa's away record is unlikely to fill Liverpool fans with confidence as they have picked up just two points from the last seven games on their travels, losing the last four. In fact, Aston Villa have lost ten of their last 11 away matches against Manchester City.
Aston Villa subs: Steer, Bacuna, Sylla, Holt, Robinson, Grealish, Tonev.
ASTON VILLA (5-3-2): Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Bertrand; Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi; Weimann, Bowery.
Man City subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Clichy, Fernandinho, Negredo, Jovetic.
MAN CITY (4-4-1-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Milner, Garcia, Yaya Toure, Nasri; Silva; Dzeko.
ASTON VILLA TEAM NEWS: Paul Lambert makes two changes to the side which consolidated their Premier League status with a 3-1 win over Hull on Saturday. Jordan Bowery, who scored at the wrong end in that match, replaces the injured Gabby Agbonlahor in attack while Karim El Ahmadi, who netted in Villa's 3-2 home over Man City in September, starts in place of Marc Albrighton.
MAN CITY TEAM NEWS: David Silva makes a timely return from injury to replace Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup, who has not recovered from the knock which he sustained in the 3-2 win over Everton on Saturday. Aleksandar Kolarov also returns to the side, replacing Gael Clichy at left-back. James Milner starts against his former club, with Edin Dzeko as the lone striker.
As for Aston Villa, they earned their first win in seven league games against Hull at the weekend to extinguish any lingering relegation fears. Having already beaten the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea this season, while also earning a rare point at Liverpool, there really is no predicting what you will get from Paul Lambert's side. In fact, only Chelsea have a better record against the top four this season than Aston Villa.
A rollercoaster Premier League season took yet another thrilling twist on Monday night as Tony Pulis' resurgent Crystal Palace side fought back from three goals down to draw with title-chasing Liverpool 3-3 - in a performance which epitomised some of Liverpool's Champions League spirit on that infamous night in Istanbul in 2005. With Aston Villa ranked as 20/1 outsiders this evening, it seems that it will take a miracle to prevent the title heading back to the Manchester City trophy cabinet. However, this season, nothing can be taken for granted.
Manchester City stand on the brink of winning a second Premier League title in three years but first they must overcome an Aston Villa outfit who managed to steal all three points when these two teams met earlier in the season. Manuel Pellegrini's side need just four points from their final two games to snatch away the crown from neighbourhood rivals Manchester United. Can Aston Villa pull off the unthinkable and swing the title pendulum back in Liverpool's favour? Bringing you all the action from the Etihad Stadium, I'm Max Bentley.
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