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EPL: Manchester City v Swansea Preview
Our football scribe previews the EPL matchup between Manchester City and Swansea.
What a difference one player can make. I’m not for one second trying to insinuate that Gabriel Jesus was the sole reason Manchester City destroyed West Ham. Their whole front force were inspirations. But the pure injection of that enthusiasm, oblivious of the trials and tribulations that has beset Pep Guardiola’s side this season, has rubbed off on the entire side.
And it has also left one Sergio Aguero with some contemplation to do. Paul Clement’s Swansea have picked up back-to-back victories and seem to be responding to something. They are now level on points with defending champions Leicester, a fact one would have thought incongruous a few weeks back.
English Premier League | Sunday 5 February | Etihad Stadium | 15:30
To Win Match (90 Mins)
Manchester City 2/9 | Draw 52/10 | Swansea City 10/1
Guardiola has tinkered with his system again, now utilising a 4-3-3 formation that almost plays like a 4-1-2-3, with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva sitting just behind that blistering forward trio of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus. In terms of pure speed, I can’t think of a faster front three in world football.
Even the much vaunted MSN would have to concede that. Fernandinho would likely start in the holding role against a more athletic side or one with more fluid counter-attacking options. But I suspect that Guardiola may show faith in a rejuvenated Yaya Toure and persist with the Ivorian in front of the back four.
I think that Man City still need to figure out some of their defensive issues. It certainly wasn’t a coincidence that the axing of Claudio Bravo led to more stability in the side, with Willy Caballero actually capable of making a save or two.
Bacary Sagna looked devastating down that right-hand side and should give Martin Olsson all sorts of problems in conjunction with Sterling. Gylfi Sigurdsson might be able to gain some space in and around City’s box with Toure on the field, but I expect that it will matter for little this weekend. Although their performance at Anfield seemed to fly in the face of every convention imaginable.
The signing of Tom Carroll from Spurs has certainly reaped major benefits for Swansea. It has eased some of the creative burden off the shoulders of Sigurdsson while not sacrificing the midfield tenacity that will be mandatory in their survival bid.
Carroll's partnership with Sigurdsson will mean that the Citizens will have to show some caution when breaking with impunity. However, it is perhaps the combination of Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente that will pose the biggest threat to City. As their defence has shown a propensity to cave against robust strikers.
Olsson has done well since arriving from Norwich while I expect Luciano Narsingh to come into the starting line-up this week. Wayne Routledge looked a bit laboured against Southampton, and it was Nrasignh’s contribution off the bench that set up Sigurdsson’s winner. But this current City incarnation has a frightening dimension to it, and I suspect that Clement may be in for a rude awakening this weekend.
Verdict: Man City Halftime/Fulltime Win (6/10)
Despite the fact that Swansea have won two games on the bounce, and Clement has definitely changed something within the dynamic of the side, this Man City side looks as if they could possibly go unbeaten towards the end of the season.
Written by Damien Kayat