Manchester City were without Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and David Silva but were still too much for Aston Villa to handle at the Etihad Stadium, running out 4-1 winners to go top of the Premier League. They didn't look particularly impressive in the first half, struggling to break down a disciplined Villa defence, but finally were able to break the deadlock thanks to Mario Balotelli's deft overhead kick from a corner. The visitors actually had a great chance to go ahead before Balotelli's goal, when Gabriel Agbonlahor dispossessed Joleon Lescott and forced a great save from Joe Hart to keep things level.
With Villa putting up a strong fight, City needed to kill off the game quickly in the second half. They managed to, with Adam Johnson and Vincent Kompany each striking within minutes of the restart and putting the game out of reach. There was room for a small triumph for Villa when left back Stephen Warnock became the first opposition player to score on City's home turf this year with an emphatic finish, but the game was capped off by a magnificent curling finish from ex-Villa man James Milner, who fired into Shay Given's top corner from 25 yards to make it 4-1.
Apart from the first few minutes of the second half, Villa weren't particularly poor, but when a team goes missing for spells against City, they're going to be punished. Still, 4-1 was a great result for a Manchester City side missing their best attacking players, and they're now clear of their closest rivals at the top of the league.