SPORT

Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester City: 5 Things Learned

04/03/2013 22:40 GMT | Updated 04/03/2013 22:42 GMT

Manchester City trimmed Manchester United's lead back from 15 down to 12 for a second successive Premier League week with victory at Aston Villa.

Carlos Tévez's composed winner on the stroke of half-time kept Villa in the relegation zone with 10 games left to play.

Paul Lambert's Villa travel to Reading this weekend as City have a breather from the league to entertain Barnsley in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Here's five things learned from the Citizens' victory at Villa Park...

CITY SHOULD GIVE UP ON RODWELL

One Manchester City wag tweeted recently Jack Rodwell makes Michael Owen "look like Robocop". Since Owen is currently injured again and Rodwell started at Villa Park, the roles were reversed until Rodwell limped off after only 25 minutes. There was trouble.

jack rodwell

Mr Glass?

The encounter had been even until the midfielder's withdrawal for Edin Džeko switched the match traffic from congested to one way. Part luck, part good judgement on Roberto Mancini's behalf (Gareth Barry was the like-for-like option), it was however Sod's Law striking again for Rodwell and it was another indication of his futility in laser blue. He was okay for the 25 minutes he played but his existence at City has always warranted scepticism.

Seemingly a £12m Extra Body, Rodwell himself said last week he was surprised City bought him. Irrespective of whether Mancini is in charge next season or not, it is difficult to envisage a player the majority of Everton fans were grateful to see sold make an impression at a Champions League team.

GUZAN THE LEAGUE'S BEST NEWCOMER?

He looks older than 28 and has been a Villa player since 2008, but Brad Guzan is one of the Premier League's best newcomers this season. Having played second fiddle to his namesake and compatriot Friedel for three years, he was trusted ahead of the calamitous Shay Given in September and has imposed himself impressively. He superby tipped Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Touré's strikes onto the woodwork to offer his side some hope on Monday night, and is one of Paul Lambert's few successes in his nine months with the Villans.

The regression of Premier League goalkeepers this season has been well covered but Guzan, despite conceding an ignominious 49 goals in 26 league games, has proved his top tier class.

TÉVEZ COULD SALVAGE SOME SILVERWARE

Carlos Tévez ended his two-month league drought spectacularly in last month's win against Chelsea and he maintained his newfound potency against Villa. Only his 11th goal of the season, it may transpire to be the Argentine's most important of the campaign if City are to lift silverware in May. A mercurial talent, whether he is scoring or not Tévez makes City a better side when playing with a partner.

carlos tevez

Tévez scored a classy winner

In his 29-goal debut year with City, Emmanuel Adebayor or Craig Bellamy were fruitful foils and the arrival of Džeko inspired City's best spell at Villa. Ironically Tévez had started with the Bosnian-Herzegovina international in three games of his recent scoreless run, but now City cannot afford to lose a game the extra edge could inspire him. Tévez was even responsible for keeping the game at 0-0 when he cleared Christian Benteke's header off the line.

VILLA PARK CROWD

"Holte End 12th Man" reads the banner at Villa Park's most celebrated stand but the moribund atmosphere at Villa Park suggested the home side were down to 10 men. However unlikely it looked that this flagging Villa side would get a result at home to the champions, the lead was supermodel skinny. Despite the adrenaline of an evening game, a brilliant ground and their team chasing the game, the home crowd sounded nonplussed.

holte end

Really?

It can be a moot point to criticise the atmosphere generated by home fans when it is poor throughout the country, and Reading and QPR - the two teams below Villa - are on the agenda, but Lambert was staggered a journalist suggested he may have looked beyond City and towards more "winnable" games. "What's the point?" he responded. The fans need to show similar hope, however hopeless the situation feels.

FANCY DROSS

This will be succinct, since by referring to the two imbeciles at Villa Park yours truly is affording them more attention, but Dumb and Dumber are another example of why fancy dress should be banned at football matches.

villa twats

Get out of this world, please

Lord's prohibits fancy dress and the Barmy Army's awful band from playing at the Home of Cricket. At least one bastion of English sport is refusing to conform to Broken Britain's leniency, unlike football stadiums.