City continued their excellent away form in torrential conditions at the Liberty Stadium. The win was City’s first on New Year’s Day for decades and put them top of the Premier League table. Here are a few thoughts on the game…
Dzeko & Negredo
Via some sort of magic, Dzeko and Negredo played a game of swapsies today. Dzeko spent the game harrying defenders, holding the ball up and looked exhausted at the end of the game, whereas Negredo had a wayward first touch, was outmuscled a fair amount and was substituted early in the second half.
Even in this strange mirror world neither striker scored, the goals coming from Fernandinho, Toure and Kolarov, but it would be most welcome to see that sort of performance more often from Dzeko. The fact he is normally so frustrating is only accentuated by performances such as the one today because it shows he is capable of it when the mood takes him.
On today’s evidence it is even more vital that Aguero returns from injury before we play Chelsea on the 2nd February as he offers a consistency home and away which neither of today’s strikers seem to be providing at the moment.
They were excellent today and fully deserved their two goals, though they didn’t play well enough to deserve any points out of it as will undoubtedly be suggested in the papers tomorrow. In the first half especially Swansea were given the freedom of the City left wing as Nasri proved to be insufficient defensive cover against relentless and skilful attackers and Kolarov took a while to get into the game. Time and again Routledge was free to make merry, picking out Swansea shirts at will. The Swansea central midfielders, especially Shelvey, also looked handy today and gave Fernandinho and Toure a more thorough workout than many opponents have so far this season. Shelvey’s most effective role today was spreading the play from wing to wing at great speed, stretching City beyond their comfort zone time and again, especially in the first half.
Wilfried Bony was everything Swansea could have hoped for today, playing easily his best game of the season to date. He saw the challenge of Kompany and met it full on, scoring two goals in the process. He was a key part of Swansea’s excellent counter attacks and combined with Routledge well. He put in the performance we normally see from Negredo. Yes, his first goal was offside, but so what? These things happen and you have to pick your battles. Whinging about this one is childish, especially as it was a lot closer than the Liverpool goal that was ruled out on Boxing Day.
It is part of football and it would be best to let this one go. City still got three points and are top of the league. Fight your New Year’s Day hangover instead.
Finally, Jesus Navas was outstanding today. He repeatedly made Ben Davies look like a Sunday League legend when attacking down the right flank and his crossing was as accurate as we have come to expect. His deliveries are so often on the nose that it puts the ‘hit and hope’ style of crossing to shame.
Navas’ defensive discipline and work rate were also excellent today, an aspect of his game which has maybe not been to the forefront as much as it should have been before now. From a slightly underwhelming start to life in the Premier League as he adjusted to the pace he now has as much of a claim to a spot in the starting XI as anyone else.
The upcoming Cup games against Blackburn and West Ham should be further showcases for Navas’ ability as neither side have any full backs who can deal with his mixture of extreme pace, close control and superb deliveries into and around the box.
Written by Alex Timperley