Top five talking points: Aston Villa 0-0 Man City
1. A solid result to mark the beginning of Remi Garde’s era
Finally, the seven-game losing streak is over. Villa kept a clean sheet for the first time since the season opener, ended their worst run of results in more than 50 years, matched City in the middle-third for more than half of the game and the list of positives goes on.
On the flip side, they remain bottom of the table, failed to take a single shot on target and even Garde admitted that his men needed luck to deny City throughout the game. That means while this result provides the platform to fight for survival, there is still an awful lot of work to be done to keep Villa up.
2. The international break could not have come at a better time for City
Wilfried Bony picked up a hamstring injury in the first-half and is set for a spell on the sidelines. Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling took turns to lead the attack, but neither looked particularly convincing up top.
Given that Sergio Aguero (also hamstring) is set to work with the physiotherapist this week then return to training with the rest of the team from next week Monday, he should be available after two weeks.
City will be thankful for the international break because it gives them time to have at least one striker back before their next fixture against Liverpool.
3. Garde’s much awaited first teamsheet failed to disappoint
The striking thing about Garde’s first teamsheet was the changes made from the recent Aston Villa sides.
Garde restored all four summer signings from Ligue 1 – Jordan Ayew, Idrissa Gana, Jordan Amavi and Jordan Veretout – to the starting XI. Even Charles N’Zogbia, who last featured in the FA Cup final, was named among the substitutes.
4. Maybe Pellegrini should have heeded his captain’s wishes
Vincent Kompany jokingly noted during his pre-match interview that if he was the manager he would have left Fabian Delph at home to spare him the vitriol that awaited the midfielder at Villa Park.
There seemed to be more wisdom in Kompany’s supposedly tongue-in-cheek remarks as the ex-Villa captain was greeted by loud boos and some fans holding plastic snakes in the stands.
The Villa fans were left with a bad taste after Delph left the club shortly after coming out in public to reassure the club faithful that he intended to captain the side this term.
5. Joe Hart was a whisker away from another forgettable moment
Hart’s howler at the Etihad Stadium almost handed Norwich City a point in Manchester City’s 2-1 victory over the Canaries last time out. The England number one almost had another forgettable moment when Rudy Gestede tried to exploit City’s sportsmanship.
City kicked the ball out to allow N’Zogbia to receive treatment but Gestede returned the ball to City by directing a throw-in at Hart with a lot of pace in it. The City keeper was forced to concede a corner kick and Gestede almost scored from the resulting set-piece.