Another public humping.
Time, then, for Swansea
to assume the position. Michael Laudrup’s side arrive at the Etihad following an impressive victory away to Fulham last weekend; a win that owed much to the hospitable nature the Cottagers have displayed for much of the season, with an own goal from Aaron Hughes coupled with Darren Bent’s friendly misfires leading to a 2-1 win.
MAN CITY FORM
- Man City 4-2 Plzen (CL)
- Man City 6-0 Tottenham (Prem)
- Sunderland 1-0 Man City (Prem)
- Man City 5-2 CSKA (CL)
- Man City 7-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Swansea 0-1 Valencia (EL)
- Fulham 1-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 3-3 Stoke (Prem)
- Kuban 1-1 Swansea (EL)
- Cardiff 1-0 Swansea (Prem)
But then Fulham are nice like that. The kind of hosts that serve up blunders like tea and cucumber sandwiches. Manchester City, as everyone is aware, aren’t nearly as accommodating. The only thing they’ve served up (at home) is ass-whooping after ass-whooping. It’s not unreasonable to expect a repeat performance on Sunday.
Especially when you consider that Man City have scored 34 goals so far this season, 10 more than both Liverpool and Arsenal. And as for their supposedly creaky defence, the absence of Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany, form and injury respectively, hasn’t really damaged their numbers: they have the joint fourth best defensive record in the league. But then it’s easier to stop the opposition from scoring when they’re spending half the game picking the ball out of their net.
Much of City’s fluency is down to their slick combination play. When Aguero pulls left (as he tends to do, see below) his interplay with both Nasri (against Spurs) and Silva (against Norwich) have been almost impossible to defend against. The telepathic understanding between Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas is much talked about by both players, while Yaya Toure and Fernandinho have figured out when to stick and when to twist (they've been doing more twisting recently).
The period before Swansea’s win over Fulham – their first victory in six games – was described by Laudrup ‘as a difficult time’. Expect a similar assessment at about 6pm on Sunday.
Does it matter? Whether Wayne Routledge, Garry Monk or Michu return in time for Swansea it shouldn’t effect the outcome. Not a bad one to miss for the convalescing Swans. As for City, they won’t need Jack Rodwell, David Silva, Stevan Jovetic or Vincent Kompany. Not when they’ve got…
Key battle: Sergio Aguero vs Chico Flores
Following his brace against Spurs, Aguero became the Premier League’s most clinical finisher in terms of minutes per goal, beating the keeper every 119.5 minutes. This led Manuel Pellegrini to acclaim the Argentine the third best player in the world, behind… well you know. But it’s his ability to stretch defences laterally, as well as his goals, that have been particularly impressive in the last few games.
His tendency to drift left against Spurs meant exploiting the space vacated by Kyle Walker, drawing Michael Dawson out of position. The results weren’t good for Spurs. Chico Flores, Swansea’s right-sided centre-back, will be hoping for more cover from Angel Rangel, saving himself a similar fate on Sunday.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Swans 0-0 City (Prem, May 13)
- City 1-0 Swans (Prem, Oct 12)
- Swans 1-0 City (Prem, Mar 12)
- City 4-0 Swans (Prem, Aug 11)
- Swans 0-2 City (Div 2, Apr 84)
For Pellegrini, the most taxing thing about managing City at the Etihad is repeatedly getting up to celebrate. Which is probably why he described the performance against Spurs as ‘the perfect game’. His work for this match will be in the build-up, guarding against the sort of complacency that may set in following 13 goals in two games. Laudrup’s message just before kick-off: whatever you do, don’t cock-up in the first 15 seconds.
Facts and figures
Tips and trends
TIPS & TRENDS
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- Man City have scored more goals in their 6 home games than anyone else in their 12 league fixtures (26), scoring at a rate of 4.33 GPG.
- They also have the league's top scorer in Sergio Aguero (10 goals), who has scored in all but 1 of their home fixtures, and are the only team with a 100% home record.
- Swansea have failed to win any of their 9 away games against top-six sides, picking up 2 draws.
- However, only West Ham have conceded fewer away goals than Swansea this season.
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