Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions Manchester City were frustratingly held to a 1-1 draw by Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa this evening to put a cap on the Saturday fixtures despite Erling Haaland coming up with the goods once again in front of goal for his new employers.
The goalscoring Norwegian superstar bagged his tenth goal of the league campaign in just six appearances for the Premier League holders after a brilliantly floated cross from creator-in-chief Kevin De Bruyne found its way to the former Borussia Dortmund man to slot home from close range for what was his sixth goal from inside the six-yard-box already this season.
With that goal, Haaland became the joint-fasted player to reach ten goals in the Premier League alongside Mick Quinn who set the benchmark back in December 1992.
Villa had done well to go into the dressing room square at 0-0 in front of the home support after City failed to break the deadlock, but Guardiola’s men looked in the mood for a second with Haaland nearly netting a brace if his effort was not his straight at Emi Martínez, while Haaland and De Bruynbe combined well in the left side of the penalty area before the Belgian flashed a half volley just wide of the far post.
De Bruyne also managed to rattle Martínez’s crossbar after rooting the Argentine to the surface after his weighted free-kick failed to dip under the bar as City seemed favorite to go on to secure all three points on their travels.
But City could not make their chances count before Jamaican international Leon Bailey found the equalizer in the 74th minute after English starlet Jacob Ramsey found room down the left channel before squaring his ball across to Bailey to hit a curling effort past Ederson at his near post.
Gerrard’s men managed to muster an xG of just 0.26 come the end of proceedings and can certainly leave Villa Park feeling lucky enough to have climbed level with Everton, West Ham, and Nottingham Forest for 16th on four points.
That result sees City climb to second and level on points with Tottenham but the league-leading scorers (20) remain plus seven ahead on goal difference of Antonio Conte’s Spurs, with both title chasers hoping that Manchester United can do them a favor against Arsenal at Old Trafford tomorrow evening when the Gunners look to go four points clear at the top of the table.
Aston Villa Player Ratings
GK: Emiliano Martínez (7) - Not at fault for Haaland’s goal this evening while making a handful of strong saves against Haaland and Foden to keep City to just one on the scoreboard.
RB: Matty Cash (N/A) - Subbed off on 27minutes after picking up an injury.
RCB: Ezri Konsa: (6) - Struggled to deal with the task at hand when it came to Haaland as well as the late runs into the area in his defensive sector.
LCB Tyrone Mings (6.5) - Stood his ground adequately against Haaland in the physical battle that took place but still lost his man for the Norwegian’s goal.
LB: Lucas Digne (6.5) - Often isolated in defense, the French international was decent enough on the night despite receiving a yellow card.
RCM: Douglas Luiz (6.5) - Showed glimpses as to why Villa tried - and succeeded - in fighting off interest for the Brazilian on deadline day.
CM: Boubacar Kamara (6.5) - The former Olympique de Marseille starlet contineus to adapt to the Premier League but he was solid throughout.
LCM: John McGinn (5.5) - A rather poor outing from the Aston Villa skipper, who was unable to influence matters on any level while offering little attacking threat.
RAM: Leon Bailey (7) - Relatively quiet from the Jamaican winger across his 90-minutes but a beautifully struck equalizer allowed him to leave his mark.
LAM: Jacob Ramsey (7) - An assist for the England youngster who won a place in the team at the expense of both Philippe Coutinho and Emi Buendía, justifying his selection well.
CF: Ollie Watkins (6) - Not the best outing from the center-forward this evening but will feel aggrieved to not have earned an assist.
Sub: Ashley Young (7) - Came off the bench 27-minutes in after Matty Cash came off injured and put in one of the better displays of any Villa player on the evening.
Sub: Philippe Coutinho (6) - Well off the boil from the Brazilian who is struggling to have the same impact he arrived with last January from Barcelona.
Sub: Emiliano Buendía (6) - The Argentine creator arrived amid big expectations last summer but has not lived up to the reputation he crafted for himself at Norwich City.
Manchester City Player Ratings
GK: Ederson (6) - Bailey’s goal was hardly down to the Brazilian international but he was rarely tested throughout, thus his rating reflects that.
RB: Kyle Walker (6.5) - Decent from the England veteran though he can be held somewhat accountable for Villa finding increased joy down City’s right side in the second half.
RCB: John Stones (6.5) - Serviceable in his deputizing role as City awaits the return of Aymeric Laporte while summer signing Manuel Akanji was not called upon today.
LCB: Rúben Dias (6.5) - Not the normal standard from the Portuguese center-back overall despite being isolated in one or two passages of play by Villa.
LB: João Cancelo (7) - Pretty good from the versatile wing-back as usual but lacked consistent influence in the final third overall.
DM: Rodri (6.5) - Guilty of being irresponsible in possession on a few occasions and nearly gifted Villa an equalizer through Ramsey after he was put through by Watkins.
RCM: Kevin De Bruyne (8) - Unlucky to not find the back of the net himself but his assist to Haaland was sublime in what was another top-class performance from the Belgian.
LCM: Ilkay Gündogan (7) - The German international midfielder remains one of the unsung heroes at City. Calm and collected in possession and still distributes well.
RW: Bernardo Silva (7) - Heavily involved in the build-up phase of play but lacked the final few percentage points to directly help City on the scoresheet.
LW: Phil Foden (6.5) - The England starlet was hardly at his best and perhaps has struggled more than anticipated in the wake of his massive contract extension.
CF: Erling Haaland (7.5) - Just the single goal for Haaland tonight and probably should have at least bagged a brace. A handful as ever as Villa struggled to contain him.
Sub: Riyad Mahrez (5.5) - It could be that Mahrez will now remain a depth/rotation option for Guardiola as he once again failed to impose himself the same as in years past.
Sub: Nathan Aké (6) - Came on for 10-minutes plus stoppage but was not involved enough to earn much credit in the bank.