Manchester City slump to fourth after defeat at Aston Villa, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Manchester City slump to fourth after defeat at Aston Villa

LONDON – Champions Manchester City lost further ground in the Premier League title race when they went down 1-0 at Aston Villa on Wednesday after Liverpool beat bottom club Sheffield United.

Leon Bailey's deflected strike after a surging run in the 74th minute sealed Villa's club record-equalling 14th successive home league win as they moved above City into third place.

City, who have now gone four league games without a win, could have few complaints as they were comprehensively outplayed in all departments by Unai Emery's side in Birmingham.

It was Emery's first victory against a Pep Guardiola side at the 14th time of asking.

Liverpool eased to a 2-0 victory over Sheffield United for whom Chris Wilder was back in the technical area after returning on Tuesday following the sacking of Paul Heckingbottom.

Virgil van Dijk's first-half volley and a late effort by Dominik Szoboszlai were enough for Juergen Klopp's side who closed the gap on leaders Arsenal to two points.

Arsenal, who enjoyed a last-gasp 4-3 win at Luton Town on Tuesday, have 36 points from 15 games with Liverpool on 34, Villa on 32 and City in fourth spot on 30 points.

Manchester United bounced back from the weekend defeat by Newcastle United with Scott McTominay's double securing a 2-1 victory against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

The pressure is mounting on Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper after his side slumped to a 5-0 defeat at Fulham while Bournemouth eased further clear of the relegation places with a 2-0 victory at sliding Crystal Palace.

Eighth-placed Brighton & Hove Albion beat Brentford 2-1.

Guardiola spoke confidently ahead of the Villa game of City's quest for a record fourth successive Premier League title -- predicting his side would come out on top.

But Wednesday's display will have given fresh impetus to all the clubs attempting to stop them.

City managed only two goals attempts all game to Villa's 22 as they produced a jaded-looking performance at Villa Park.

Bailey deservedly won the game for his side when he surged forward and struck a shot that took a big deflection off Ruben Dias to leave keeper Ederson with no chance of making a save.

Apart from a couple of efforts by Erling Haaland, both saved by Emiliano Martinez, City were anaemic.

"Aston Villa were better, they played a fantastic game and we struggled. The better team won," Guardiola said.

"We struggled in the first half especially. The second half was different but in the final third the final pass and the quality and the movement was not there."

It was a momentous night for Villa and their manager Emery who has transformed the Midlands club in little more than a year since replacing Steven Gerrard.

"We have to believe we are in the top four now," the Spaniard, who faces his old club Arsenal at the weekend, told Amazon Prime. "Tonight was fantastic but we have to stay steady for Saturday."

Liverpool are now unbeaten in eight games, although they were made to work hard against Sheffield.

"I would have taken 1-0 as it was nervy, each throw-in was the most dangerous situation, it was really difficult to defend but we came through that," Klopp said. "We take the three points and keep going, recover and go again."

Manchester United's chequered season continues as they claimed a well-deserved win against Chelsea to sit in sixth place in the table with 27 points, three behind City.

Chelsea are 10th on 19 points.

McTominay netted his first goal in the 19th minute, firing in a rebound after Harry Maguire's shot was blocked.

Cole Palmer levelled just before halftime when he threaded a left-footed shot through defender Victor Lindelof's legs and past keeper Andre Onana but McTominay headed the winner in the 69th minute from Alejandro Garnacho's cross. – REUTERS

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