Five things we learned from City’s goalless draw at Villa Park…
A well-timed break?
If you’re looking for reasons to be cheerful, City negotiated a whole month between international breaks without two of the best players the Premier League has ever seen.
Sergio Aguero and David Silva have both been missing for seven games since the 6-1 win over Newcastle and City haven’t lost a game in that time.
A record of five wins and two draws is not bad by any standards, even if a goalless stalemate at Villa Park feels like something of a missed opportunity given results elsewhere.
The last international break came after Sergio Aguero’s five-goal blitz against Newcastle, leaving supporters to rue the timing of the FIFA dates but this time, maybe it’s a good time for a pause.
Pellegrini is hopeful that this final break of the calendar year will give Aguero, Bony, Nasri, Silva and Zabaleta the chance to recover with a tricky home encounter with Liverpool coming up on the 21 November.
CityMatchday app users voted Jesus Navas as the away side’s Man of the Match after the Spanish winger came off the bench to produce yet another excellent performance.
Superb against Sevilla in midweek, Jesus ensured a torrid afternoon for Jordan Amavi when he came on to replace Wilfried Bony after 25 minutes.
He made three key passes, creating two clear chances and put in 12 crosses from the right flank – on another day, with better finishing from his teammates, Jesus would have been the match-winner.
Although Spain boss Vincente Del Bosque didn't recall Navas for the upcoming friendly against England, he did reveal that the winger's form has put him back in his thoughts which is quite the incentive for Jesus to keep up his blistering form with a tournament summer ahead...
Changing of the Garde…
We had pondered before the match whether the new manager bounce was fact or fiction... perhaps we shouldn't have tempted fate!
Remi Garde only had three training sessions to get his new squad ready for the visit of the league’s top side and, from what we saw on Sunday, it’s clear that defensive discipline and organisation must have been at the heart of that work.
Villa never threatened Joe Hart’s goal and only managed three shots off target over the course of the 90 minutes but, through a combination of spectacular Brad Guzan saves, last ditch tackles and a couple of fluffed close-range shots, they held out for a valuable point.
Pellegrini felt as though his side did enough to win the game, creating enough clear chances to score but sometimes in football it’s just not your day.
City’s strength in depth is often referenced but after a glut of injuries, perhaps the exertions of the midweek win over Sevilla took their toll.
Although dropping points against the league’s bottom club is always disappointing, a bittersweet smile could at least be raised for one of the most popular players to have worn a City shirt in recent years.
Micah Richards took the broadcasters’ Man of the Match honours following a fantastic performance at the heart of the Aston Villa back four in which he and centre back partner Ciaran Clark repelled everything the away side could throw at them over the 90 minutes.
For the first time since the 2011/12 season, Micah has enjoyed a run of injury-free games and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to relish seeing the 27-year old flourish in his new surrounds... even though it cost us two points this time.
A grandstand finish…
There was already an edge in this clash following Fabian Delph’s move to City in the summer but it was further inflamed by an incident which took place with two minutes to go.
City put the ball out so N'Zogbia could receive treatment on a head injury and Rudy Gestede proceeded to launch the throw-in at Hart from the restart.
It hit Joe and went out for a corner prompting a furious reaction from the goalkeeper, as well as Fernandinho and Aleksandar Kolarov.
There would have been an almighty inquest had Gestede turned in the corner but there was even further drama to come as Delph was inches away from scoring against his former side.
Only Guzan’s fingertips took the ball off Fabian’s head – imagine the headlines if that one had gone in!
In some goalless draws, you feel like your team could play until midnight and still not score but, on this occasion, if the game had gone on for another five minutes, you’d have fancied City to break the deadlock.