Man City 2-1 Swansea: Five Things We Learnt

gabriel jesus

Jesus City’s saviour –

Gabriel Jesus’ stoppage-time winner helped Manchester City to a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Swansea – but what have we learnt from the game?

Playing out from the back worked for City

Manchester City’s approach of starting attacks from their centre-backs has been criticized, but in the first half, John Stones and Aleksandr Kolarov showed class on the ball. With the opposing half packed, the duo did the job of midfielders and switched play quickly. They were helped by the lack of pace and aggression from an isolated Fernando Llorente, wide men Wayne Routledge and Gylfi Sigurdsson also reluctant to close down.

City used the wide areas well

Auxiliary right-back Fernandinho often rampaged beyond Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling to stretch Swansea’s defence. The vision of David Silva and the pace of Leroy Sane combined even more effectively down the left, the latter having the beating of Kyle Naughton. The right-back’s disconnect with Federico Fernandez allowed Silva to glide into the box, showing great control to set up Gabriel Jesus for a simple finish. It was a promising home debut from the Brazilian, who worked hard and held the ball up well.

Swansea hung on

Swansea’s lack of pace in forward areas meant their willingness to sit back did more harm than good. Hoof the ball forward quickly? Llorente would be outnumbered. Take more time to play a precision pass? Those in possession would be hunted down by a ravenous City front line. Only some fine last ditch defending from Alfie Mawson and saves from Lukasz Fabianski, who did well to reach Yaya Toure’s thunderous free-kick, kept the Swans only one down.

Swansea improved after the interval

Whatever Paul Clement said in his half-time team talk worked. They started getting five or six men in the opposing half to support Llorente, halfway-line fouls a sign of the team’s renewed intent. Leroy Fer grew into the game while Martin Olsson made good runs from left-back with balls coming into the box, forcing a timid Kolarov to concede corners. From one of them, Mawson headed narrowly over from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s near-post delivery, the Icelander also rattling the post from the free-kick.

Late drama

Just when City looked to have regained some control heading into the last 10 minutes, Swansea substitute Luciano Narsingh laid off Sigurdsson for a fine left-footed strike. The pattern of play returned to how it went in the first half, with City pushing all 10 outfield players into the opposing half as Sergio Aguero came on. It was Silva and Jesus, the home side’s most threatening attacking players all game, who combined for the winner. The former lifted a delightful cross for the latter, whose initial header was spilled by Fabianski before he tapped home at the rebound.

The result was just about what City deserved, having carried the greater threat on the balance of play. However, there is encouragement for Clement and Swansea to take in their battle to beat the drop.