City rout Villa but must show more consistency
But Pellegrini's men will have to show more consistency, not the tale of two halves against Villa
MAN CITY 4
(Yaya Toure 48, Sergio Aguero 50, 60, Raheem Sterling 66)
ASTON VILLA 0
Manchester City have made a habit of not doing things the easy way.
In fact, they have made it an art form all of its own.
If they are to realise their currently left-field challenge for the English Premier League title, life at the Etihad Stadium will continue in that vein.
Barely out of first gear in the first half against Aston Villa, dead last in the EPL table, they turned on the style within three minutes of the restart.
By the time substitute Raheem Sterling banished his paltry outing against Liverpool in midweek, in the 66th minute, talk of challenging Leicester City's current sceptre seemed to carry conviction again rather than dissenting voices of both derision and doubt.
Manuel Pellegrini could not be blamed for resting on his laurels somewhat.
With already one trophy banked and the prospect of another with their Champions League campaign still very much alive, going for broke in the title race almost seems like a futile endeavour.
City are more than capable of possessing the quality to push the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Leicester, the current champions-elect, to the finish line, but they often lack the consistency to do so.
Now, they have to look over their shoulders as much as they will craning their necks skywards if they are to realise that currently improbable dream.
Manchester United and West Ham's respective resurgences have ensured that further slip-ups cannot be tolerated.
Even by this season's often unpredictable standards, City have had more than their fair share.
Wednesday's defeat by Liverpool was the latest, potentially damaging blot on that copybook.
Yet with Sergio Aguero in such prolific form, David Silva at his mesmerising best and Yaya Toure a midfield behemoth, you can truly never write off Pellegrini's side.
Toure's days of standing ovations in front of City's adoring home crowd, as he made way for Manuel Garcia, look set to be numbered under the Chilean's successor.
Pep Guardiola sent the Ivorian powerhouse to the Etihad Stadium six summers ago and will invariably send him packing from it too, when he takes over at the end of this season.
But the outgoing Bayern Munich coach may appreciate that the fullness of time will see Toure become a greater asset than he was an adversary in his Barcelona days.
City will need that steel and commanding presence at the heart of midfield if they are to once again overcome the odds in the long run, let alone audaciously snatching the title away from Leicester's fairy-tale ending, unlikely as that still remains.
Brawn, however, is not the 32-year-old's only commodity.
Industry plays its part but so too does a vision which belies his advancing seniority, by the current standards of the game. His drive was the catalyst to City's belated lead as well as those around him.
Aguero, similarly, raised his game; working intrinsically in tandem with Silva.
A well-taken brace could have so easily been another hat-trick to further enhance an already glittering status in both City and EPL folklore but perfectionism, and the woodwork, was a cruel mistress.
They continue to sing "We're not really here" ritually at the Etihad. The same cannot yet be said of City's title prospects.
- MAN CITY: Joe Hart, Bacary Sagna, Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi, Gael Clichy, Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure (Manuel Garcia 79), David Silva (Kelechi Iheanacho 69), Wilfried Bony (Raheem Sterling 61), Sergio Aguero
- ASTON VILLA: Brad Guzan, Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Ciaran Clark, Alan Hutton, Ashley Westwood, Idrissa Gueye, Jordan Veretout Leandro (Bacuna 73), Aly Cissokho, Gabriel Agbonlahor (Rudy Gestede 69), Jordan Ayew (Scott Sinclair 79)
- Chelsea 1 Stoke 1
- Everton 2 West Ham 3
- Newcastle 1 Bournemouth 3
- Southampton 1 Sunderland 1
- Swansea 1 Norwich 0