Wednesday’s early kick-off sees Pellegrini’s title chasing Manchester City travel to Wales in search of yet another win. Pellegrini’s men are in great form and have won the last four Premier League games. The Sky Blues are also undefeated in their last eight games – drawing just once. A win or draw would see City top for New Year’s Day should Arsenal fail to beat Cardiff later on that same day. Swansea’s form is quite different – the Swans have recorded just two wins in their last ten Premier League games and it seems the Europa League is exerting much more of a negative force on their squad than they would have liked.
Michael Laudrup should be missing just four first team players for this difficult encounter. Michu and Nathan Dyer are both sidelined until at least early February with ankle injuries. First choice goalkeeper Vorm is still out after his knee surgery so Tremmel will continue to deputise in goal. Swansea’s fourth injury worry is Monk who is definitely out with a knee injury.
Manchester City have a similarly sized injury list, with four missing from the Citizens’ squad. Stefan Jovetić has no return date set after his latest hamstring injury, although he was touted as a potential squad member for the last game against Crystal Palace. Central defender Demichelis should continue to be sidelined after missing the games against Liverpool and Crystal Palace with another hamstring injury. Top goalscorer Sergio Aguero and right-back Micah Richards are both out until late January with calf and hamstring injuries respectively. Expect Yaya Touré and Pablo Zabaleta to return to the starting line-up after being rested at the weekend.
Many will be surprised to learn that Manchester City have failed to score during their last two trips to the Liberty Stadium – that includes Swansea’s 1-0 victory from the 2011/12 season. Worryingly for Laudrup, Swansea have won just two of their last fifteen games in all competitions – so this isn’t exactly a slump in form. From Swansea’s 37 Premier League games in 2013, the Swans took just 39 points – and that’s teetering very precariously above relegation form. Swansea have kept a colossal average of 59.98% possession this season but have created just eighteen clear cut chances. Is more efficiency needed?
Manchester City are yet to win back-to-back away games under Pellegrini – so a win on Wednesday would see this happen for the first time. In all competitions, City have won ten of their last 11 games – including matches against Arsenal, Liverpool and European Champions Bayern Munich. City have scored 54 goals in the Premier League this season – and no team has ever had as many at the 19 game mark. City have matched their record breaking goal scoring feats with a mean defence – the Blues have the fifth best defensive record in the league and have let in just three more goals than defensive pacesetters Everton and Arsenal (18).
Wilfried Bony will be vital for Laudrup’s side when City visit Wales on Wednesday. The big Ivorian is one of the strongest players in the Premier League and he’ll need to utilise that strength when City unleash Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany. Bony will be key for Swansea when it comes to set pieces, both in an attacking and defensive sense. Bony has already made 12 successful headed clearances this season – and one can assume that they’re all from opposition corners and free kicks, something City are seriously dangerous from. Bony could help his team-mates by being a little more careful in possession – as his passing accuracy stands at just 74%, which is well below Swansea’s average squad total of 86%. Emphasising this lack of care in possession is Bony’s creativity – the striker has only created one clear cut chance for a team-mate all season. Wilfried Bony is Swansea’s joint top scorer with 4 goals – tied with the injured Nathan Dyer.
For an attacking player operating in the opposition half – Navas’ passing accuracy is very high with 87% currently registered by the Spaniard. Navas is the best example of City’s diverse playing style – the Citizens enjoy cutting teams to pieces down the centre but they also like to score goals from range, from set pieces and from the wings. Navas has attempted 86 crosses this season which shows how opponents are pulled from pillar to post by Manchester City. Navas has created 7 clear-cut chances to date and his dribbling accuracy stands at a very good 53%.
Surely everyone is on the same page with this one? Manchester City should be winning this game, especially having rested some key personnel for the last game against Crystal Palace. I’ll go for 3-1 to Manchester City. I fancy a Džeko goal too – a player under-appreciated by many.