Five things we learnt from Manchester City's victory over Aston Villa
Edin Dzeko has scored valuable goals for City in the past but none more so than his first to turn this match and why it's time to praise the Argentine centre-back
1. Dzeko always delivers when it matters
Ever since he arrived at Manchester City in a £27m transfer from Wolfsburg three years ago, Edin Dzeko has always struggled to escape the impression of being the guy who comes in when others are injured.
He could have left on numerous occasions, but City have stuck with him and there can be no denying that he has repaid them several times over.
Dzeko simply scores big goals in big games.
His header was the equaliser in the 2012 title clincher against QPR and his goals against Crystal Palace and Everton in the past two weeks have put City on course for the title. But none will prove as crucial as those against Aston Villa on Wednesday night.
2. Toure brings the ton up
Not only have City seemingly beaten Liverpool to the title, they have also edged out the Merseysiders to become the first team to break the Premier League’s 100 goal mark this season.
Liverpool go into the final day of the campaign on 99 league goals, but Yaya Touré’s stunning injury-time strike against Villa brought up City’s century.
From the 4-0 demolition of Newcastle in their first game of the season, to the six they put past Arsenal and Tottenham at the Etihad, City have been unstoppable.
Manchester United have conceded seven against City this season, while Spurs shipped five at White Hart Lane, so nobody can doubt City’s firepower.
3. Time to praise Demichelis
Martín Demichelis has been the butt of criticism at City this season, but if Liverpool possessed a player of the Argentine’s defensive discipline and nous, Brendan Rodgers’ team may now be in pole position for the title.
Demichelis lacks pace, but he reads the game better than anybody else in the City back four and his ability on the ball goes unnoticed.
With Vincent Kompany often breaking forward with the ball, Demichelis is happy to sit back and snuff out any danger before it emerges. As proved at Crystal Palace, Liverpool lack that kind of player and Demichelis has turned out to be a bargain buy for City.
4. City lack pace
One of the criticisms of Roberto Mancini’s City team was that it lacked pace, particularly in attacking areas.
So when the Italian was sacked last summer, it was no surprise to see the club recruit the pacy Jesus Navas from Sevilla to give the team a new dimension going forward. With Navas injured, however, and Sergio Agüero also sidelined, City were flat-footed and ponderous against Villa, which made them predictable and easier to defend against.
It was a key factor behind their failure to break Villa down in the first-half and City were fortunate to have Dzeko on hand to win the game after the interval.
5. Bending the rules on FFP?
It only requires a glance at the perimeter advertising at the Etihad to understand where the bulk of City’s commercial income emanates from.
Aside from the omnipresent Etihad billboards, there are prominent ads for Aabar Investments, Etisalat and Abu Dhabi, as a tourist destination – all of which are Abu Dhabi companies.
But City have now come up with the novel idea of a ‘Season Finale partner’, a partnership paid for by Dubai EXPO 2020, which at least comes from the neighbouring emirate of Dubai. With Uefa focusing on City’s £350m deal with Etihad, the heavy reliance on commercial money from the UAE is hardly being hidden.