With the league leaders, and the cash balance giants of English football visiting Wales, this was another huge game for Swansea. Manchester City were expecting to win and getting anything from the game would really have been a bonus for the jacks. Swansea were coming into this game off the back of a very good away win where Sigurdsson was the star of the show with two spectacular 25 yard goals. Dyer had been sent off in the 60th minute against Wigan and was therefore suspended for this game.
Introduction to Football
If you were to show the first 35 minutes of this game to someone as an introduction to Premier League football, they would have on choice but to draw the conclusion that Swansea were a far superior side to Manchester City. Swansea had attempted 5 shots on goal without reply and had 71% possession. The clearest chance was spurned by Sinclair from 12 yards out. Routledge raced onto a pass from Sinclair, knocked the ball past Hart, and was taken down inside the box. Sinclair took a fairly mellow penalty which Hart did well to save in the 6th minute – Sinclair’s first miss from the spot in two years.
Britton Allen and Sigurdsson were running the midfield, forcing Mancini into taking off Barry for Aguero and bringing a more dynamic attacking threat. The ‘sky blues’ found their feet in the final 10 minutes of the half and created a number of chances. The pressure was mounting on Swansea, as they conceded four corners in a row, but they kept Man City at bay going into half time.
Enthralling Chess Tactics
The second half was a very different story. Man City seemed to rediscover their ability and dominated most of the half. The first fifteen minutes were quite even with both teams playing good football in the ‘white rock stadium’. Then for the final thirty minutes the Swans took to protecting the centre, and their goal, like chess pieces protecting the king. All routes were blocked, clever movement and positioning cut the angles of attack available to Man City. Swansea maintained outlets for a counter attacking threat initiated by their cultivated ability to keep the ball and make sure-footed progress.
Identifying The Threat
Doing live analysis it can be difficult to grasp the tactical instructions as I have to follow the ball, but I could still see that Man City were keeping a very close eye on Sigurdsson (Editors Note: For those of you that don’t know, Manraj (author of this article) collates data for Opta Sports).
Speaking to Scott Helmich (Swansea’s performance analyst) after the game, he mentioned that the opposition centre midfielders most likely had clear instructions to do just that. Scott also mentioned that after Man City’s first substitution ‘they tried pressing higher after sub which created more space in behind for Gylfi to exploit’.
Which is exactly what he did just after 80 minutes. A lackluster pass from Savic failed to reach a team-mate as Sigurdsson broke from the chess formation to intercept the ball. He drove deep into the City half and held the ball up until the Swansea ranks could move forward and support him. He passed the ball out to the right-wing and it eventually found its way to Routledge who angled his run to receive the ball in an onside position. Routledge accelerated to the by-line and whipped in a curling, dipping cross to the far post; Moore rose above the defenders and seemed to hang in the air with great control as he directed a thumping header into Hart’s right hand corner.
More on Page 2: More stats from the game
The last ten minutes Man City looked to charge through the defensive wall by any means possible. They were desperate for a goal, but the defenders held strong and Vorm made some great saves as wave after wave of attack hit the whites. Then as Clichy crossed the ball, Richards thundered in a header and went off celebrating ecstatically, only to see the lines-woman’s flag hoisted in the air for a correctly judged offside decision.
The passing stats are phenomenal once again, with Swansea completing more passes than Man City even attempted. But the stat I’m personally content with is the number of crosses. Even though Swansea completed less crosses, they attempted just one more cross than Man City, and it was that final cross which lead to the goal.
The other very interesting statistic for me is that Swansea seemed to have a pattern of passing more to the right than the left throughout the season (3885 to the right, 1460 to the left – including this game). However in this game they played 130 passes in each direction. Although attacking passes were 110 to the right-wing (where the goal came from) and 43 attacking passes to the left-wing.
The position in the league, or in the bank, was of no consequence on this occasion. Swansea all but secured their place in the top-tier of english football for another year, and toppled city off the top spot. Swansea City have made a stunning impact on the Premier League and the footballing world, and this result could prove crucial in deciding where this year’s title ends up.