Swansea City 2-4 Manchester City, Premier League 14/15: Five Things We Learnt

Manchester City, by way of a 4-2 victory against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, registered their 5th consecutive Barclays Premier League win since suffering defeat at the hands of Manchester United in April, and assured themselves of direct qualification into the group stages of next season’s UEFA Champions League.

It was a brilliant game of football, that didn’t have too much to choose between two attractive football teams.

But City, with a bit more firepower than the hosts, in attack, managed to outscore Gary Monk’s side that played with great vigor and incision.

Yaya Toure (2), James Milner and former Swan, Wilfried Bony, got the goals for the visitors, who would have been disappointed at the way they conceded the two goals, which were scored by Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bafetimbi Gomis on either side of half-time, and let Swansea back in after leading them by 2-0 in the first 45′.

From City’s perspective, they certainly would be cock-a-hoop because of yesterday’s victory that sees them finish above the Red Devils in the Premier League standings for the second consecutive season. However, in hindsight, what can they take away from their display against Swansea City?

The Home Side Played as They were Expected to

Having accrued 56 points, which is the highest ever points tally in their history, from 36 games prior to the defeat to City, it was not unexpected of Swansea to perform the way they did and take the game to their illustrious opponents.

Out of possession, the home side were well organised and forced City to work hard to create openings. When they won the ball back, the Welsh side broke in unison and asked a few questions of their opponents’ rearguard that found it difficult to cope with the pacey Swansea City forwards – Nathan Dyer, Jefferson Montero, and Modou Barrow in the second half.

Sigurdsson’s goal, which came on the stroke of half-time, was a timely one and reminded City that the game was not over by any means.

Gomis got the second goal after 20 minutes into the second half, and incidentally, it once again came at a time when City were fashioning chances of their own and close to finding what could have been a decisive 3rd goal.

Swansea, considering the way they scored the two goals and created 7 other goal scoring chances on the evening, would be bitterly disappointed at the result they managed in the end.

Lukasz Fabianski had a forgettable game, as he should have done much better for both the Toure goals and at least got a hand to Milner’s goal, which came from a brilliant City counterattack.

Overall, Swansea played well and contributed to a very good game of football, which was also not unexpected prior to kickoff.

But this game could potentially help the Swans identify the areas where they need to tighten up on when playing against the big boys of the Premier League and also have a look at harnessing the opportunities like they were afforded by Manchester City last night.

City Produced a ‘Good’ Away Performance

There were many a moment during yesterday’s game when Manuel Pellegrini’s men were under the pump and had to weather a Swansea storm.

Such a scenario was particularly palpable even prior to City scoring the opener, with the likes of Montero posing defensive questions to Pablo Zabaleta and Dyer too, investigating Eliaquim Mangala’s temperament as a Premier League defender.

The visitors, though, came through every one of those testing phases, first to take a 2-0 lead and then to restore their two-goal advantage after Swansea equalized.

I thought that Pellegrini’s side played some delightful counterattacking football, with Milner’s goal in particular exuding great precision and illustrating the clinical nature of City’s attacking play, on a day when they created 20 goal scoring chances and attempted 22 shots on Fabianski’s goal.

The Cityzens only saw 51% of the ball, which is 5% less than the amount of possession they have averaged over this season, during the 95 minutes, but never found it hard to create chances and repeatedly got behind the Ashley Williams-led backline.

Such incisive attacking performances have been few and far in between for City, who will no doubt look into improving on that aspect of their game before the next season kicks off.

City Showed Why They are far from Becoming a Force in Europe

Yesterday’s game was a carbon copy of City’s early season clash against Hull City at the KC Stadium where, after taking a 2-0 lead, they conceded two cheap goals to let the home side back into the game.

Against Swansea, they were probably not as dominant as against Steve Bruce’s side, but no way should Monk’s men have got back into it and posed fresh concerns for City.

The central defensive partnership of Martin Demichelis and Mangala didn’t have a great time yesterday and found it extremely hard to deal with Gomis’ physicality and genuine aerial ability.

Mangala was probably assigned to mark the 29-year old striker, but the Frenchman was caught out of position many times and Swansea found plenty of joy in playing around the former FC Porto defender.

While Mangala had a forgettable game, Demichelis didn’t produce one of his best performances either, winning just 1 of his 5 attempted tackles and failed to win his solitary aerial duel.Vincent Kompany came on for the last 15 minutes, replacing Fernandinho and going alongside Mangala, with Demichelis moving into that No.4 position.

Even the inception of the Belgian defender didn’t improve City rearguard’s performance on the day, which was way below par. On another day, Swansea could have won that game if not for Joe Hart, who made two jaw-dropping saves to keep the score at 2-2 before Toure put City in the lead for the second time on the day.

Defensive problems have marred what has been a disappointing season for the Sky Blues, who once again relinquished a two-goal lead yesterday, before redeeming themselves and eventually going on to win the game.

Their attacking play was coruscating for the best part of 95 minutes, but defensively, against a pacey Swansea outfit, they were far from convincing, which explains why they have vast improvements to make in order to become a force in Europe.

Pellegrini’s side Produced a Team Effort

This was one of the stark aspects of City’s performance against Swansea yesterday: at least 60% of the players who played yesterday, put in satisfying displays. 

Toure had a brilliant game and was mighty pivotal to City’s victory against the Swans. He scored 2 goals that gave his side the lead on both the occasions, while completing 87% of his passes and all three attempted take-ons: complete midfielder’s display, that. 
Aleksandar Kolarov continued his rich vein of form with another solid display at left-back, where he had his task cut out against the fleet-footed Swansea wingers – Dyer and Barrow. 
The Serbian won 3 of his 6 attempted tackles and 3 of the 5 aerial duels he was involved in, while also making 2 interceptions and 4 clearances, to vindicate the defensive solidity he rendered yesterday. In an attacking sense too, he played to profile: delivering well from corner-kick situations, from which he created two goal scoring chances, and in general provided great attacking impetus to the visitors. 

Likewise, Milner was great to watch, as his understanding with David Silva led to City creating many chances from the left-hand-side once Navas replaced Frank Lampard, and the man from Yorkshire moved into a No.10 position. On the evening, Milner created 6 goal scoring chances; completed all (4) his attempted take-ons and scored a goal, to cap off a comprehensive performance. 
Hart made 7 saves overall; Sergio Aguero made the assist for Milner’s goal; Silva registered two assists and completed 5 of his 7 attempted take-ons; Bony, as aforementioned, scored a goal against his old club, in the 10 minutes he got to play in for his new one. 
Therefore, it was a team effort from City who totally deserved the result they managed yesterday.  
City’s Good Run of Form Carried Them Through
There were moments during yesterday’s game when City could have crumbled under the pressure exerted on them by Swansea. They, however, kept going and managed to pull off the desired result in the end.
The players looked confident whenever City were in possession, and there was fluidity to most City attacks against Monk’s side. 

Aguero led the line well, even though he didn’t produce a good performance on his own, and the Milner-Silva duo was absolutely fabulous to watch.  
Even after Swansea attained parity, you never thought that City were going to get agitated and fail to create any more chances; that belief, I think, is a result of the winning run Pellegrini’s side has been in since the Manchester derby defeat, and also the boost they would have garnered from the manner of their victory against Aston Villa at the Etihad three weeks ago. 
Final Thought

Poor defending and letting a 2-goal lead slip, again, probably will take a bit of the sheen off City’s victory against Swansea. 
But take no credit away from City for the way they attacked Fabianski’s goal and created as many chances as they did, playing away from home. 
Let us also not forget the contribution of Hart to the victory, which would definitely have not been possible without those two massive saves the England No.1 pulled off after Kompany replaced Fernandinho.

Pellegrini will be one happy man, and inching to finish the season with a win against Southampton at home. 

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