Manchester City are looking nailed on for the Premier League title after Wednesday's 4-0 victory over Aston Villa, but they were made to work for it. The visitors put all their resources into keeping a clean sheet and did well for the first hour, but were ultimately overwhelmed by City's quality.
In order to counter what he thought would be a modified 4-4-2 from Manchester City, Paul Lambert set up with three central defenders. In reality, City played with just one striker, but they still had trouble breaking Villa down. For long periods of the game, the Villains played with a bank of five behind a bank of four and poor Andreas Weimann left to do the work of three men on his own.
City looked generally unconcerned about whether or not they'd score in the early going and were pretty comfortably held at bay early on. Their best chance of the first half came just before the break, when Samir Nasri missed an absolute sitter off a cross in by James Milner. But City came out after halftime playing more aggressively, and eventually went ahead.
Edin Dzeko broke the deadlock in the 64th minute at the end of a pretty move. David Silva set up the chance with a through ball for Pablo Zabaleta, who squared first time. Dzeko made the perfect run and was in the right spot to finish off Zabaleta's cross.
Villa changed their shape instantly, but went behind by two goals just eight minutes later. Dzeko was the scorer again, though on this occasion he was luckier than skillful. Brad Guzan made a brilliant save on a shot by Samir Nasri, but the rebound bounced right to Dzeko, who tapped it in to complete a brace.
Weimann provided a scary moment for City fans when he hit underside of the crossbar with a header and it looked as if the ball might have crossed the line, but the referee's watch didn't go off, and replays showed that the original decision of no goal was a good one.
That was Villa's best chance of the night, and City went on to add two more goals to put an exclamation point on the result. Substitute Stevan Jovetić scored in the 89th minute and Yaya Toure tallied his 20th of the year in stoppage time. The goal was one of Toure's best, scored at the end of a brilliant long dribbling run through the center.
And with that, City need just a draw on the final day to win the title. They play West Ham at home.
Manchester City: Hart, Kolarov, Demichelis, Kompany, Zabaleta, Garcia, Toure, Nasri, Silva (Fernandinho 76'), Milner (Jovetić 60'), Dzeko (Negredo 86')
Goals: Dzeko (64', 72'), Jovetić (89'), Toure (90')
Aston Villa: Guzan, Vlaar, Clark (Robinson 79'), Baker, Bertrand (Grealish 88'), Delph, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Lowton, Bowery (Bacuna 59'), Weimann