Struggling Swansea welcomed highflying Manchester City to the Liberty Stadium for yet more midweek Premier League football. The Swans headed into this game sitting rock bottom of the Premier League, and thus knew that they needed a positive result in this game, however unlikely, to avoid falling too far behind their relegation rivals. City meanwhile wanted to maintain their impressive lead over eternal rivals Manchester United, having started this game with an 11 point lead over Jose Mourinho’s men.
City probe for an early opener
Unsurprisingly the visitors started the brighter, setting their usual electric pace and tempo of passing and pressing that Pep Guardiola is so well known for. An early effort by Fernandinho stung the palms of Fabianski in the Swansea net, and signalled the intent of the Citizens to grab an early opener. Their zealous attacking start did allow the Swans to counter however, and Paul Clement’s side exploited the right hand side as Danilo was found out of position on a few occasions during the early exchanges. Wilfried Bony looked to punish his former employers, and his height and strength began to trouble the City defenders.
Every time the league leaders were in possession a huge sense of anxiety swept around the Liberty, and the crowd were clearly conscious of just how destructive this Manchester City side can be. With the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings in midfield, the movement and creativity was dazzling, and it looked only a matter of time before Guardiola’s side would take the lead. Sergio Aguero almost provided that lead after a tantalising cross, but the Argentine forward couldn’t quite guide his header under the bar.
Silva and De Bruyne strike gold for Guardiola
In the end it took 25 minutes for the visitors to break the deadlock, and it came courtesy of David Silva. A simple cross from Bernardo Silva fell straight to the feet of the Spanish playmaker, who was unchallenged in the middle of the Swansea penalty area, and a simple flick put the pall past Fabianski and into the back of the net. It was a weak piece of defending from the home team, but Guardiola’s side capitalised and gained their well-deserved lead. Aguero almost made it two just moments later after a driving run into the box, but his low driven shot towards the far corner was saved well by the Polish international in net.
With their one goal advantage boosting their confidence even further, City began to knock the ball around in an attempt to draw the Swansea players out and open up gaps. Raheem Sterling was one man who took advantage of these gaps down the left flank, and he won a promising free kick after a clumsy challenge from Kyle Naughton. De Bruyne struck the resulting dead ball, intending for someone to get a touch to drive it goalwards, but his curling pass ended up missing everyone and nestling in the far corner. He may not have meant it, but the Belgian doubled his side’s lead on the half hour mark, and provided Swansea with an incredibly uphill battle to get back in the game. In truth it was all the Swans could do to make sure the visitors didn’t add to their lead before half time, and they were thankful to head into the break only down by two.
Silva bags a brilliant brace
The second period almost started in the worst possible way for Swansea as Aguero and David Silva combined brilliantly, but the Spaniard curled his shot just wide of the post with a rare lack of composure. Thankfully the midfielder made up for it a few minutes later by adding his second of the game, this time linking up with Sterling. Silva slipped the winger in down the left flank and continued his run into the box, believing in Sterling’s ability to return the ball to his feet. The England international obliged, threading the perfect pass through into the six-yard box, and the Spaniard lifted the ball over Fabianski and into the back of the net. It was a wonderful passing move, and exemplified City’s utter dominance over a disorganised and crumbling Swansea side.
Guardiola’s side began to demonstrate their class and incredibly passing ability after the hour mark, stringing together 30-pass moves to tee up the likes of Aguero. The striker almost finished off what would have been one of the Premier League’s all-time great team goals, but his shot bobbled agonisingly wide of the post. The move inspired applause even from the Swansea fans, who couldn’t help but admire the remarkable football on display. They did however almost have something to cheer about courtesy of their own team when Roque Mesa struck a fierce shot following a corner. The midfielder’s strike took a huge deflection; wrong-footing Ederson in the City goal, but the Brazilian shot stopper somehow reached across the palm the ball away and preserve his side’s clean sheet.
Aguero wraps up another stunning City win
With the clock ticking down the visitors began to really enjoy themselves, and Sterling almost grabbed a fourth with a flick on from yet another De Bruyne free kick, but his shot cannoned up over the bar. Their passing tempo remained relentless even in the final ten minutes, and the home side looked exhausted after chasing shadows for the vast majority of the game. Even when Swansea were in possession, Guardiola’s players pressed with such intensity that they quickly won the ball back or broke up play.
To their credit, Paul Clement’s side did push for a consolation goal in the final moments, and they strived to string together a good passing move and play Tammy Abraham in behind the City defence, that played with an incredibly high line. The visitors however were simply too well drilled, and going forward they were mesmerising. Aguero finally managed to get on the score sheet in the 85th minute, and it was a trademark finish into the far corner by the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. Another brilliant driving run into the right hand side of the box opened up enough space to get the shot off, and Fabianski couldn’t get down quickly enough to deny the Argentinian.
In the end it ended 0-4, but given the sheer dominance of the visitors it very easily could have been double that score line. Upon the referee’s final whistle there were Swansea fans applauding Pep Guardiola’s side, who returned to Manchester with another well-deserved three points.
In truth few people expected Swansea to come away with a positive result in this game, and they played better than many people foresaw. On another day, and against a different goalkeeper to Ederson, the Swans could have scored one or two, but they simply couldn’t handle City’s dominance. Paul Clement will be worried by his side’s lack of results, especially as they now head into a busy Christmas fixture schedule at the bottom of the league.
After a recent run of narrow victories, City dispatched Swansea in some style. In attack they were unstoppable, with the likes of De Bruyne, David Silva, Sterling and Aguero all wreaking havoc amongst the Swans’ back line. What was perhaps even more impressive was the determination to keep a clean sheet, and Otamendi and Ederson in particular were phenomenal in this game. The Citizens have surely wrapped up the league already, but can they go all season unbeaten?
Swansea: Fabianski, Naughton, van der Hoorn, Mawson, Olsson, Ki, Roque Mesa, Carroll (Abraham, 46’), Ayew, Dyer (Narsingh, 65’), Bony (Fer, 73’)
Manchester City: Ederson, Danilo, Mangala, Otamendi, Delph (Zinchenko, 73’), De Bruyne (Gundogan, 77’), Fernandinho (Toure, 58’), Silva, Sterling, Aguero, Bernardo Silva
Goals: David Silva (0-1, 27’), De Bruyne (0-2, 34’), David Silva (0-3, 53’), Aguero (0-4, 85’)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Swansea: Fabianski 7, Naughton 5, van der Hoorn 6, Mawson 6, Olsson 6, Ki 6, Roque Mesa 6, Carroll 6 (Abraham 6), Ayew 5, Dyer 6 (Narsingh 6), Bony 6 (Fer 6)
Manchester City: Ederson 8.5, Danilo 7, Mangala 8, Otamendi 8, Delph 7.5 (Zinchenko 7), De Bruyne 9 (Gundogan n/a), Fernandinho 7.5 (Toure 7), Silva 9.5, Sterling 8, Aguero 8, Bernardo Silva 8
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