Monday, 15 August 2011

Manchester City 4-0 Swansea

8pm, watched on Sky Sports 1

Chamberlain (left) and Neville talking
through possible Man City tactics.
Preview: Monday Night Football returns with all the gadgets that were exhibited last season with Richard Keys and Andy Grey, but this time with new faces. Ed Chamberlain and Gary Neville provide the build up which includes standing next to the large touch-screen reviewing the weekend's goals and incidents. The due do a good job, Neville's views are valuable, and it is nice to have a pundit other than Jamie Redknapp, who seems to have played more games for Sky than he ever did as a footballer himself. Neville's views are very incisive and valuable, and he isn't afraid to give his opinion. Chamberlain is also a good presenter, like Simon Thomas, who has made the step up from Sky Sports News.

Manchester City and Swansea line-ups
Manchester City have had a quiet summer by their standards, but still spent more than £50 million. Aguero's transfer fee takes up the majority of that amount, but three other signings for less than £10m each (Savic - defender. Clichy - defender, Pantilimon - goalkeeper) have also arrived. Expectations are high, as the squad has had time to settle (despite the best efforts of Messrs Balotelli and Tevez). Tevez not present in the squad, and stropbag Mario on the bench, with Adam Johnson rightly prefered. Aguero 'not ready' according to Mancini, having finished the Copa America only 25 days ago (how much rest do these players need?). Clichy makes his debut. The side assembled by City cost £154million. Wow.

Swansea City are the first non-English side to play in the Premier League. It could have been Cardiff, but unlike their rivals, they failed to win the play-off final in 2009/10. Brendan Rodgers employs an attacking style similar to Blackpool, but in the Championship they were much more solid at the back. A fluid 4-3-3 becoming 4-5-1 has been successfully employed by Rodgers has proved a success in the Championship, but will it cut it in the more demanding Premier League?  Many pundits haven't given them a chance, but in the end that is just their opinion. We should give Swansea a chance before passing such judgement. The signing of Danny Graham, as well as the presence of Scott Sinclair (who has managed to become a good player. When he played for Charlton on a short loan spell, he looked very poor. To be fair, that was in a struggling side, with Sinclair only making sporadic appearances) will be important for the Swans if they hope to win enough points to stay up. I am very much behind Norwich as well as Swansea to stay in this division. Warnock can get lost though.

Having said all that, I can't really see anything other than a City win tonight. I hope I am wrong, but this could be a pretty one-sided affair unless Swansea hit City early. I'll predict a 2-0 home win, but come on the Swans!

(Half Time: MC 0-0 SC)
Full Time: Manchester City 4-0 Swansea

Match Report: Swansea were well beaten by a very strong Manchester City side, who look like they can provide a real challenge for the title this season. An unfortunate first game for Swansea to have, but they definitely showed some potential and quality. They look good enough to give mid-table teams a good game, so should be challenging for survival right until the end of the season. The lack of penetration was the key problem tonight for Rodgers' men, but that is understandable against such an expensively assembled top-4 side.

Swansea spent the first 20 minutes of the game holding on to the ball well, though City were very disjointed and often gave the ball away. But then City got things going, and the rest of the first half belonged to them. Both Silva and Barry hit the bar, and Silva also forced Michel Vorm, the new Swansea keeper, into a great flying save. Swansea had few chances in the match, as City began to dominate.

Sergio Aguero
Aguero seemed rather happy with his performance.
So did most others.
The second half took off from where the first had ended. City dominating the game agian, with Swansea beginning to tire. However on 56 minutes, Swansea broke well, with a good effort on goal from Dobbie well saved by Joe Hart. Despite this, the crowd could sense a goal was coming, and it was. Adam Johnson's shot was parried by Vorm into the path of Dzeko, who did well to adjust his feet for the finish. Mancini then brought on Aguero for De Jong, which really emphasised the chasm between these two sides. Swansea themselves brought on Allen and Routledge. On 67 minutes, Aguero scored his first goal for his new side, with good build up play resulting in an easy finish. The third soon followed, when Aguero chased the ball to the byline and scooped it back for Silva to finish. Replays showed that it was extremely close to the whole ball being out of play, but the assistant decided that it remained in play, and truth be told, it didn't alter the outcome of the match. Vorm made a super save from a deflected free kick, stretching his arm behind him to prevent a fourth, and proving he will be a really important player for Swansea this season. City continued to control the game. In stoppage time, Aguero decided to have a long range shot at goal, which gave City their fourth. A powerful effort was brilliantly struck into the far corner, and Vorm had no chance of stopping it.

Verdict: Swansea will not have many tougher games than this. The quality of Manchester City made the game extremely difficult for the Welsh side. Long spells of possession never really threatened to split the City defence. However, Swansea will certainly have a chance of staying up this season. Their home form will be extremely important for them. City on the other hand have every chance of taking the title to the wire. The potential partnership between Silva and Aguero has already proven deadly. It is a really exciting prospect for a side that also has quality players like Dzeko and Tevez up front. A solid back line for City will be important in more difficult fixtures, particularly away from home. But if they can be a bit more positive in big games (none of last season's defensive mentality is necessary against sides like United) then they will have a real chance of winning this league.

Man of the Match: Even though he was on the losing side, I must give it to Michel Vorm, the Swansea City goalkeeper. As a keeper myself, I always enjoyed making saves, and watching Vorm tonight was a real pleasure. He made a number of good stops as well as some superb reflex saves. He is also a good ball-playing keeper, that will occupy a sweeper role throughout the season. Unfortunate to miss out is Sergio Aguero, who scored two, one of which was a super strike, and set up another. But by the time he came on, Swansea had tired and City could easily exploit the gaps emerging across the field. Also, David Silva proved that he is a top quality midfielder, creating chances and exploiting space really well. He won the Sky Sports text vote, but only just from my man Vorm!

Stat Attack: Wayne Routledge came off the bench for Swansea to make his 100th appearance in the Premier Leauge. He has so far amassed 0 goals. Oh dear.

Tweet Knowledge: @Optajoe: 11 - Michael Vorm has already made more saves tonight than any player managed in a Premier League game last season (10). Blinder

Match Rating: 7/10. A good game with Swansea passing well early on, before City recovered and then dominated the game. Goals were inevitable, but great goalkeeping limited City's goal tally to 4. It could have been a lot higher.

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