Manchester City vs Swansea City
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Referee: Craig Pawson
Newly crowned Premier League Champions Manchester City will be keen to assert their league triumph in style against a struggling Swansea City.
Manchester City’s title was confirmed with the shock defeat of Manchester United to lowly West Bromwich Albion, a defeat which illustrated the gap between the two Manchester clubs not only in points, but in style and desire as well.Embed from Getty Images
It says so much about Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side that after only one season of success, victory assured in both the Premier League and Carabao Cup, that they are being touted as one of the best teams to ever grace England. They could still break the number of points gained and number of goals scored Premier League records this season statistics can only do so much justice to the experience of watching City play at full strength. Their speed of touch, the quality in passing and flair that even their goalkeeper possesses, their ruthlessness in every facet of their play is breathtaking.
The scariest thing to consider when judging their rise is that they can get so much better. Nicholas Otamendi has often been a stand-out performer for them at centre-back and yet showed his limitations against Liverpool in the Champions League. Raheem Sterling, who has transformed himself from peripheral squad member to match-winner, can still improve so much further, as his wayward finishing has recently suggested. Factor in as well that City have won the league despite playing the majority of the season without a recognised left-back, often playing the right-footed Fabian Delph there, and their potential to grow further seems immeasurable.
At the other end of the table, Swansea City will be looking forward to getting this particular fixture out of the way in anticipation for hugely important crunch games to end their season. Four points separate them from the relegation zone but as often pointed out, their performances have perhaps deserved more reward. Their draw against Everton last week, for example, was an extremely bitter pill to swallow for their fans after such a dominant display, and the club’s own insistence that it was “another important point gained” rang slightly false.Embed from Getty Images
The mood of Swansea’s weekend may well be decided away from their Etihad, as 19th place Stoke take on Burnley to try and reduce the point gap between them and safety to only two. While this bodes badly for Swansea, they would still have a game in hand over the teams below them, and after Sunday will have gotten the unarguably toughest away game of the season out of the way. Luckily for Swansea, regardless of results this weekend, they know that their fate will firmly remain in their own hands for a few games to come at least. Any kind of result at the Etihad this Sunday would give them a supreme boost in preparation for the tough battle ahead.
Pep Guardiola has demanded no complacency or slackness to be present in the visit of Swansea this Sunday, which suggests that a full-strength side will be played. Benjamin Mendy, the highly dangerous left-back who has spent so long out of his debut season with injury, may be in line for a cameo appearance in this game, with a view to impressing for the season to come. Sergio Aguero is still unavailable after surgery, with questions of his long-term future under Guardiola beginning to surface once again..
Swansea will have to wait to know whether midfielder Sam Clucas, impressive under Carvalhal, will be fit and ready for Sunday after a knock ruled him out of the visit from Everton. The midfielder’s vision and physicality in the middle has proved invaluable for the side, and perhaps Carvalhal will deem him too important to risk for such a difficult game. Renato Sanches has returned to Wales after recovering from a hamstring strain with his parent club in Germany but won’t be fit enough for even the bench on Sunday.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Laporte, Fernandinho, D. Silva, De Bruyne, Sane, Sterling, Jesus.
Swansea City: Fabianski, Mawson, Fernandez, van der Hoorn, Olsson, Naughton, Ki Seung Yung, Carroll, King, A. Ayew, J. Ayew.
Prediction: Manchester City 3 Swansea City 0
Sixteen places separate Manchester City and Swansea City in the Premier League table and, by the end of Sunday’s encounter, a few goals should separate them too. This is not only a chance for Manchester City to flex their muscles as a showing of their Premier League dominance, but also for each individual player to make their case to Guardiola that they are irreplaceable for next season. Swansea will be fairly confident of avoiding relegation regardless of a likely loss against the Champions of England but, as is the case with every game, retaining pride and avoiding embarrassment is always preferable.
Written by Jack Hall.
22. An often foolishly optimistic Swansea City fan, writing previews and reports for 90MAAT. Currently finishing a Masters in Film at Southampton University. @apuffofJack