Manchester City haven’t had the best start to their Premier League campaign – losing 2 and drawing 3 of their opening 12 games, only winning 2 of their last 6 games in all competitions, the City fans weren’t very confident going into this weekend’s game; but, with 7 wins in the league under their belts, and other teams not performing well, they are still in with a chance of catching early runaway leaders Chelsea.
The Citizen’s opponent this weekend was Gary Monk’s in form Swansea City side, who were coming back from the international break with their superb win against Arsenal still in the back of their minds.
Although Swansea were sitting in then unfamiliar territory of the top 4 when the game kicked off this looked a routine win for a very strong Manchester City team, welcoming back Stevan Jovetic from injury to partner in form striker Argentine Sergio Aguero up front.
The opening encounters were evenly matched with both teams battling for possession but in the 9th minute the Etihad was silenced when Nathan Dyer played an exquisite pass to Wilfred Bony who control brilliantly on his chest before slotting the ball calmly, with a side foot volley, past the onrushing Joe Hart, giving Swansea a 1 – 0 lead and his 3rd goal in his last 2 games against Manchester City.
This goal seemed to spark Manchester City into life, creating a couple of half chances before levelling the game in the 19th minute. Some neat play down the right hand side allowed Yaya Toure to pass to Jesus Navas who whipped a perfectly weighted cross into the 6 yard area. This cross was met by the returning Jovetic who flicked the ball past the helpless Fabianski in the Swansea goal, giving the Montenegrin international his 3rd goal of the season.
With both of Jovetic and Bony’s goals coming in the opening 20 minutes you wouldn’t have been mistaken for thinking the game was going to be a goal fest, but this wasn’t the case and we had to wait for the 62nd for the next goal, but it was well worth the wait.
After a large spell of pressure from Manchester City, which saw Toure have a shot from just outside the box saved well from Fabianski, a shot from Jovetic was well blocked and went for a Manchester City corner. The resulting corner was poorly cleared and a loose pass from Tom Carroll was intercepted by Martin Demichelis who played a pass to Fernandinho. Under pressure Fernandinho held the ball up brilliantly before playing a delightful back heel into the path of the oncoming Yaya Toure who powered through three Swansea City challenges before guiding the ball past Fabianski at his near post, giving him his 2nd goal of the season and showing us a brief sign of the form of last season.
This goal proved to be the decisive one in the game but Swansea had some excellent chances to tie the game, none more so that late substitute Bafetimbi Gomis who, in the 85th minute, was played in brilliantly one on one with Joe Hart by Wilfred Bony but put his chance horribly wide on the goalkeepers left hand post. A late deflected Jonjo Shelvey free kick had the whole of the Etihad holding their breath but it went just inches wide of the post and Manchester City held on for a huge 2 – 1 win to keep the pressure on rivals Chelsea.
This win means Manchester City now have 2 more points at this point of the season than they did last campaign when they won the title. This is largely due to the fantastic goal scoring form of Sergio Aguero. The little Argentine has netted 12 goals in 12 games and this record has seen him take an early lead in the race for the golden boot, just ahead of Chelsea striker Diego Costa. These goals have come at vital times for City, as without Aguero’s goals the Sky Blues would be 7 points lighter and just sitting in mid-table. It is now key for City to keep players such Yaya Toure fit until the Christmas break, especially if he is to miss a couple of weeks due to the African Cup of Nations. Although the Ivorian hasn’t had the best start to the season and is yet to find and emulate the mesmerising form of last campaign, in which he finished top goal scorer for City with an impressive 20 goals from midfield. There are glimpses of that form returning shown in the last couple of weeks and he will have to play a key role if City want to keep the pressure on hot favourites Chelsea.