Manchester City have returned to winning ways courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Looking to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last time out, City kicked off the contest on the front foot.
They opened the scoring in the fourth minute, thanks to Rodri’s near-post header from a Riyad Mahrez corner.
Buoyed by their early opener, Pep Guardiola’s men continued to take control of proceedings as they came close to doubling their lead through Ilkay Gundogan but for an excellent save from Emiliano Martinez.
City would eventually put the ball in the net for a second time, only for Gundogan to see his strike chalked off for Erling Haaland’s foul on Martinez in the buildup to the goal.
Following a subpar start to the game, Kevin De Bruyne burst into life just shy of the half-hour mark when he skipped past a couple of challenges before teeing up Grealish, who was denied a goal against his former side by Martinez.
As the match neared its midway point, Villa would prove to be the architects of their own downfall as a Calum Chambers error allowed Haaland play in Gundogan to finish from close range.
Despite the added security of now having a two-goal lead, City were not resting on their laurels yet and deservingly grabbed a third thanks to Mahrez’s well-taken penalty after Grealish had been clumsily brought down in the box by Boubacar Kamara.
Seemingly in cruise control of the game at this point, Guardiola opted to take off Haaland and Ruben Dias at half time, although the former was believed to have come off with a thigh problem.
City were unable to replicate their fine start to the first half in the second period as they understandably took one foot off the gas.
However, the reigning Premier League champions were given a stern reality check moments after the hour mark with a lapse in concentration from Bernardo Silva capitalised upon by Douglas Luiz in midfield, before the Brazilian released Ollie Watkins to score his third goal in as many matches.
Watkins’s goal set the tone for the rest of the match as Villa remained keen not to go down without a whimper.
On as a substitute, Philippe Coutinho came close to setting up a frenetic finale but his cross-cum-shot was tipped over by Ederson.
As Villa pressed forward in search of a goal, City sprung down the other end and should have put the final nail in the coffin through Mahrez, who blazed over from point-blank range.
That proved to be the final meaningful action of the game as Man City cut the gap at the top of the Premier League table to three points ahead of Wednesday’s crunch clash against division leaders Arsenal.
Aston Villa, meanwhile, have now lost consecutive league matches for the first time since the appointment of Unai Emery, which has seen them fall seven points behind Fulham in the race for an European spot.