Verdict: Manchester City 4 Aston Villa 1

City’s run of good results against Villa continued in what was ultimately a comfortable victory. Mario Balotelli broke the deadlock with a delicious bicycle kick, and another second half blitz was capped by James Milner’s finest goal for the club.

The victory moved City to the top of the Premier League, a fitting reward for the club’s best ever start to a top flight campaign. One difference from last season is how Mancini can rest key players and still get the result. If we’re to mount a title challenge this will be a key factor.

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Player ratings: Manchester City v Aston Villa

Hart – The crucial save from Agbonlahor at 0-0 spared City from a much harder afternoon. Nonchalantly plucked a fierce Warnock drive from the air. 8

Richards (K Toure 64) – Another solid display with an inadvertent assist for the opening goal. It’s to be hoped Micah’s latest injury isn’t serious. 7

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Preview: Manchester City v Aston Villa

Undefeated City take on undefeated Villa in a game that threatens to be overshadowed by the upcoming Champions League and derby fixtures. It shouldn’t be.

To get three points City will need to be at their best against an Alex McLeish side that is likely to prove just as stubborn as David Moyes’ Everton. Patience may once again be required.

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FA Cup verdict: Manchester City 3 Aston Villa 0

Thank you Gerard. City triumphed far more comfortably than had been anticipated after the Villa manager made eight changes from his previous line-up. An early strike from Yaya Toure put City on their way to a quarter final tie against Reading.

Initially both managers looked to have sent out weakened sides with Mancini electing to keep Tevez and Dzeko on the bench. The Italian admitted afterwards that playing Balotelli as a lone striker had been a gamble.

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