The three-peat is now complete. In a game that should have been controlled and out of Aston Villa’s reach before half-time, Manchester City clawed and hung on to clinch a trophy that will take the edge off of a somewhat disappointing season. With this result coming off the back of a historic away win against Real Madrid, it could prove to be the catalyst to drive the team on for the remainder of the season.
Here’s five things we learned from the game…
Another Questionable Starting Eleven?
If people were perplexed about the team Pep Guardiola picked against Real Madrid, I’m sure even more had the same feeling regarding today's team.
No Kevin De Bruyne, no Gabriel Jesus, no Riyad Mahrez. Arguably the three most in-form players in the squad were nowhere to be seen and it was (and still is) hard to fathom why that was done. I’m almost certain it was due to fatigue after the exertions in mid-week, but with a much easier game against Sheffield Wednesday around the corner, surely it would have made more sense to rest those players then instead.
Set Pieces are Turning a Corner
After not scoring from a set piece in what felt like an eternity, City now have two goals from corners in three games. Now, nothing revolutionary has happened. It still seems to be the old plan of “aim for Rodrigo” but it seems to be working much more effectively as of late, and long may it continue.
I’m not sure about everyone else but seeing countless short corners resulting in absolutely nothing had rendered me numb to the prospect of anticipating goals from set pieces, but things seem to be turning around.
Bravo Lives for the Carabao
Another Carabao Cup win, another big moment for Claudio Bravo. He may not leave many City fans with fond memories when he eventually leaves the club, but nobody can deny just how much he has contributed to the success the club have enjoyed in this competition.
Today he added another vital intervention to his highlight reel. It may not have been the cleanest piece of goalkeeping but the fact he managed to turn Engels’ header on to the post is what effectively won City the game. Every team gets a big chance when they are trailing in a cup final and thankfully Bravo was on hand to make sure Aston Villa couldn’t take theirs.
Writing on the Wall for Stones
Many people, including myself, were surprised to see John Stones given a place in the starting eleven for this game and it may have been Pep giving him enough rope to hang himself with.
For most of the first half, he was calm and composed until yet another lapse in concentration presented Villa with a goal and route back into the game. The 26-year-old has been given chance after chance and seemingly shows no signs of eliminating these kinds of errors from his game.
With Eric Garcia exuding quality and reliability whenever he plays and City widely reported to be seeking a new centre-back it feels as if Stones’ time at the club is drawing to a close.
Foden is a Big Game Player
What a performance. From the first minute Foden was sharp and threatened to create something or beat a defender every time he touched the ball and provided a clever assist for the opening goal.
A fine example of his talents could be seen early in the game when he rolled a defender on the halfway line before gliding past two more Villa players to turn what seemed to be a guaranteed loss of possession into a threatening attack.
I hope that the club is willing to trust him next season to fill the minutes that David Silva will be vacating and refrain from signing a midfield player - anything other than would surely force him to leave to find first team football.
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