Almost six-thousand travelling City fans experienced the magic of the FA Cup first hand at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon. Kelechi Iheanacho, who led the line on his lonesome, provided the magic, becoming our third player to net a hat-trick this season. Kelechi is now averaging a goal every 65 minutes and his performance at the weekend served to confirm that he is, in fact, shit hot.
I enjoyed the 4-0 rout courtesy of an excellent Chinese stream that entertained its viewers with a curious, yet strangely catchy Euro Trance style power ballad at half time. I’m assuming that a decent amount of Villa supporters also consulted the stream given only 18,000 of them turned up. Either the stream or a long shop at Tesco or something – anything to get away from the train wreck that has been Aston Villa this season, I guess. Thanks for making our lot feel right at home, anyway – a truly kind gesture.
I’ve never really had it in for Villa fans, but the inflatable snakes and Stan Collymore’s attack on City after the game have made disliking them a bit of a formality. Collymore, as distasteful with his words as he is with his fists, went on one of those unique rants about Arab money and then, obviously upset about his side’s 16th loss of the season, called one Blue who responded to him a ‘daft c**t’. Proper nice bloke, is Stan.
Now it’s time to talk about Kelechi who once again proved that he is not just a desperate attempt by the club to try and convince the world that our academy is working, but a seriously good player. Trusted with a lone striking role in front of Sterling, Fernandinho and Navas, Kelechi bagged a first senior career hat-trick, each goal representing an intriguing quality. His first, a tap in from three yards after Sagna headed on Delph’s corner, showcased his poaching abilities. His second, a nonchalant roll from the penalty spot, demonstrated his confidence. His third, a precise finish after latching on to a terrible back-pass from Gana, was as composed as they come.
Manuel was clearly impressed with the forward. “Kelechi is the reason we did not feel the need to replace Edin Dzeko or Stevan Jovetic,” he told reporters after the game. Wilfried Bony is another who could soon be usurped by the 19-year-old who continues to get better with every game.
Raheem put the icing on the cake 14 minutes from time when Kelechi’s attempted overhead kick fell into his path. The finish, much like the entire fixture, was easy.
This prompted Pellegrini into handing first team debuts to youngsters Angelino and Cameron Humphreys. Bersant Celina, who made his debut against Norwich in the last round, was also given an opportunity to further familiarise himself with the surroundings we hope to see him frequenting in the near future. With De Bruyne set to miss the next two months of fixtures, Kolarov struggling for fitness and the centre of defence always a concern, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the trio in the coming weeks.
A routine victory, another Kelechi masterclass and another display from Fernandinho that suggests the short injury lay-off isn’t going to stop him in his pursuit of our player of the season award. Things are going brilliantly for us right now. Kelechi’s form means that we don’t have to overuse Sergio who is always prone to injury and Fernandinho’s versatility in the midfield means we can use Yaya sparingly, too. It’ll be interesting to see whether Pellegrini goes with a similar team against Sunderland on Tuesday, but I’d be incredibly surprised if Sergio, David and Yaya didn’t make a return to the side.
I’ve got a feeling we’re about to see a decent run, Blues. Touch wood.