Manchester City 3 Swansea City 0: Some Thoughts
- So another comfortable home win – eventually. For once, City were made to work fully for their victory, but their superior class told in the end.
- The team-sheet was as expected, apart from the debate over you-know-who. It’s been debated to death, you will have your own opinions, but whilst you can argue that Pantilimon has done nothing wrong so deserves to keep his place, some will counter argument that he hasn’t had to do much (nothing spectacular at least), so that’s hardly a surprise. Either way, it’s not looking good for Hart, though he can probably expect two starts against Leicester and Bayern Munich -but then what do I know?
- Swansea offered far more in that first-half than most visitors to the Etihad, after another storming start from City. Yet again we could have scored in the first minute, and once Negredo had scored many naturally felt another procession was on the cards. We have become spoilt of course and expect this as standard, but Swansea had other ideas. They pass the ball about superbly, and caused City plenty of problems and could have gone into the break level if not for some very wayward finishing.
- There is a point to make here though that this is what separates the top teams from those that occupy mid-table and below. All teams can fashion chances, but the top teams tend to be more clinical – and so it proved on Sunday. Some of the play continues to be breathtaking – the best I have ever seen.
- But in that first half it seemed too open, with too much space for the Swansea players to break into. Pellegrini tightened things up in the second half, though City probably also wore down their opponents as is often the case nowadays. By the end, the Swans were all at sea (Ha, hilarious! I should be a headline writer!).
- You wonder what damage Swansea could have done with their first choice strike-force available, but then City were missing their first-choice central defensive pairing, so it evened itself out.
- So no hogging of the MOTM award by Sergio Aguero this time round, the Argentinean more subdued than usual. Samir Nasri certainly wasn’t however and he continues to fill the void left by David Silva. Laurent Blanc once commented that Nasri is more a striker than a midfielder and you can see the logic in that when he breaks on goal. Like his vital goal at home to Chelsea in the title-winning season, he is ultra – cool in such situations, something he has over David Silva. It was great to see him bag a brace.
- So it seems we have another player who can take a free-kick.
- The stats: that’s 8 goals in the last 7 games for Alvaro Negredo. His free-kick was the fourth one scored by City in the league this season (there have been 19 scored in the league in total so far). Samir Nasri has scored more premier league goals this season already than last season (3) and has scored more than once in a game for the first time since December 4th 2010. In total, that’s now 29 home goals in the league this season, two more than any other side has scored home and away (thanks to @OptaJoe for all that).
- Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards have been in the papers over the weekend, talking of leaving if they cannot get playing time. Of course Lescott is doing just that due to injury and was great against Spurs for 45 minutes, shaky against Plzen and good again against Swansea, but he knows he is back up and that will not change. Like Gareth Barry, he is approaching the twilight of his career, a career that will end elsewhere.
- Richards is a different kettle of fish however. It’s hard to truly judge the player when he injures himself on such a regular basis, but the Richards of now bears a striking resemblance to the erratic Richards under Mark Hughes that seemed to spend too much time in the gym and not enough on the field. He is a link to the old days, the Jim Cassell academy, he is a popular figure and a club cheerleader and we all hope he stays, but I cannot justify a first team place for him at the moment and if he demands time on the pitch, this could prove the tipping point.
- If Lescott and Richards were to leave it would naturally lead to media criticism over the de-Anglicisation of the team, but the fact is that the English players would get more time on the pitch if they were as good as their team-mates, and I’m not sure they are anymore (for everyone’s sanity we’ll leave Joe Hart out of the argument). The new academy and the batch of youngsters ripping up trees bode well for the future, but there may be a gap of a few years before we see a new English element in the first team.
- As Paulinho pout in another underwhelming and error-strewn performance earlier in the day against United, it becomes more baffling with every match that Fernandinho is overlooked by the Brazil manager. The selection for the team is often erratic, but let’s hope for the player’s sake that a move to a higher-profile league gets him the recognition he deservers. If Jo is regularly getting on the pitch for Brazil, what possible justification is there not to give Fernandinho a run-out? Maybe his style just doesn’t suit in a position that Brazil are quite strong in at the moment.
- Another poor turnout from the away team’s support. This is not criticism, simply pointing out that if you insist on charging fans £50 a pop then ask them to make a huge cross-country (sorry, countries) trek on Sunday, we shouldn’t be surprised when the majority say “sod that”. Half-price tickets for City’s match at Fulham are a start, a move replicated by other Premier League teams, but it needs to go much further than the odd reduction. £20 needs to be the norm, £30 at the most.
- The true tests are almost here. Two tricky away games where anything could happen, that could shape City’s title campaign at such an early stage. Here’s hoping that Manuel Pellegrini has worked out how to solve this particular problem. For the record, City are not alone in this respect. United have conceded 20 goals in their last 10 away games and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine. But then they have Tom Cleverley in midfield.
- Calling Negredo the beast gets creepier with every passing week. As for “feed the beast…” – just NO.