And there it was. The summer nearly over and Premier League football once more gracing the Etihad stadium in what was Swansea’s first ever game in the Premier League. Could Mancini’s mighty Blues start the season with a blast and go top by bettering Bolton’s lesson giving four nil win against QPR or would Swansea, buoyed by their club’s record breaking promotion season give City something to think about.
Mancini made a number of changes from last weekend`s Charity Shield loss to the Rags with Kolarov, Milner and Balotelli dropping to the bench. City played Dzeko as the lone striker with new boy Clichy starting at left back, Barry coming in for Milner and Johnson replacing the ineffective Balotelli.
If Johnson plays as he can (and thats’s a big if) this team could teach Swansea a real lesson.
The tension was electric as City entered the fray in front of a full house and the Swansea City players looked visibly nervous as they started their Premier League careers against the young footballing super power that is Manchester City. Swansea won the toss and kicked off right to left. City dispossessed them quickly and forced the Swansea keeper to put the ball into touch. From the throw in and with work from Clichy and Silva, Toure struck the first shot which cannoned off a Swansea defender.
Swansea were sticking with their footballing philosophy and stroking the ball round neatly, but early signs were that City’s power and strength were forcing them back with each attack.
First corner came to Swansea after eight minutes with a low driven ball. It was cleared and then put back into the box but the cross was easy to collect for Hart. Swansea had settled down and were playing nice possession football without actually threatening the City goal.
Ten minutes in and a nice battle was forming between Scott Sinclair (ex of Chelsea) and Richards. Sinclair was put through on the City right, only for a massive tackle by Richards to put the ball into touch. The resultant throw in led to a shot which was high and wide.
The away team were seemingly settling down until Clichy found himself in space on fifteen minutes but his cross was too high for Dzeko. City were though in possession again.
To be frank Swansea were edging the opening twenty minutes as their passing was crisp and accurate and City seemed content to sit back and soak up the pressure. The passing stats showed Swansea were far more accurate in the opening spell and City had yet to really threaten the Swansea goal.
First corner to City came from a deflected shot by Adam Johnson on the City right. Up came the big boys. The ball was played short to Silva who after a neat one two forced an amazing save from the Swansea keeper. Seconds later and there should have been a penalty after a handball by a Swansea defender in the box but the officials did not see it.
This period of play seemed to give City confidence and they seemed to move up a gear forcing Swansea further and further back. Silva forced the keeper to clear the ball into touch and this led to City’s next corner. It was played to the far post and met majestically by Lescott but too close to the Swansea keeper.
Twenty seven minutes in and Johnson and Toure interchanged passes giving Toure the chance to shoot from the edge of the box, but Swansea’s keeper was well positioned and he took the catch well. City were in the ascendancy now and looking more like the Premier League club as mistakes crept into Swansea’s passing.
Almost exactly on the half hour mark Toure and Johnson again exchanged passes and found Silva again on the edge of the box. Silva beat the keeper hands down only to see his curling power shot cannon back off the cross bar.
The possession stats had completely reversed and city were winning 70/30 in the last ten minutes. Swansea were the team whose passes were now going astray and City threatened with each attack. The intensity of the game was rising and Dzeko was looking a different player, closing down every ball and looking big, strong and difficult to mark. Johnson too was playing well and linking up very well with Toure.
Toure should have scored on thirty four minutes after Clichy put in a beautiful cross from the left but he got his angles wrong and his header went wide. Within two minutes Johnson was breaking through the Swansea back line cutting a lovely ball back but the Swansea keeper saved his teammates blushes once again with some exceptional positioning.
With seven minutes of the half left Toure went on one of his trademark runs finishing with a wicked shot which brought another save from the Swansea keeper. The resultant corner was played short and Johnson found Silva unmarked on the penalty spot but he lost his usual coolness and side footed over the bar when the goal was at his mercy.
Toure was guilty of profligacy in front of goal again on forty one minutes when Richards played him through. He was either off balance or caught the ball wrong as he sent it flying high over the bar. One thing was clear though as the half drew to a close. City were beginning to purr and only the Swansea keeper and their cross bar had kept the Premier League new boys in the game.
With a minute to go Johnson and Toure combined again and the Swansea defence stood off their men allowing Toure a clear shot which was once more saved by the outstanding Swansea keeper. The keeper was called into action again as Dzeko waltzed through the Swansea defence and unleashed a lovely shot.
The half closed with a City corner and the Swansea woodwork once more denied The Blues that all important first goal. The stats though spoke for themselves as City dominated possession, shots on target and corners.
As the half began, Aguero was seen taping up his ring and checking his boots. Swansea began the half as they had the first, playing neat crisp passing, but City were up to the task and after Johnson found the byline the first corner came to City on forty seven minutes and the second only a minute later when Toure broke down the City left.
Mistakes were creeping into the Swansea game as they gave the ball away and on fifty minutes Johnson was put through one and one with the keeper only to be flagged off side.
First test for Joe Hart followed after City could have been given a penalty when Johnson was brought down in the box. The ref waved play on a Swansea found themselves with an extra man in the City half. The Swansea forward shot from the edge of the box forcing a smart save from Hart who spilled the ball but gathered on the second attempt.
First blood came on fifty seven minutes when Silva dispossessed Swansea inside the City half and carried the ball half the length of the pitch. He found Johnson on the left who cut into the box and shot with power. The otherwise impeccable Swansea keeper spilled the shot and Dzeko was in place to tap the ball into an empty net from three yards out.
Cue Kun Aguero. No sooner had the goal been scored than the board went up and De Jong was replaced by the new City golden boy, a huge cheer went up as the Blue faithful got a chance to see their drool worthy Argentinian magician.
Aguero got his first chance on sixty one minutes when with his first touch on the edge of the box. He turned and shot bringing a world class save from the Swansea keeper. The ball landed at Toure’s feet but once again he failed to find the target. Aguero had raised the crowd and that in turn seemed to raise the players as they won every ball and turned each Swansea attack into one of their own.
The stats were bad news for Brendan Rodgers by now as City had 22 shots to Swansea’s 2 with ten of them on target compared to only a solitary shot by Swansea. The first change for Swansea saw Routledge replace Dobie to add some much needed pace.
Sixty five minutes in and Toure conceded a free kick on the City right, just outside the penalty area. A high ball played to the far post resulted in a Swansea corner on the City left. City cleared and within seconds, found themselves in possession with Yaya Toure. Toure found Johnson who threaded the ball between centre half and full back for the marauding Richards to run onto. Richards cut the ball accross fthe six yard line, Aguero lost his marker and nine minutes into his City debut was slotting the ball into the net at the far post.
Two minutes after this and Swansea probably wished they had never met Kun Aguero. A little bit of magic and chasing a lost ball the Argentinian wizard hooked the ball back from the by line over the keepers head for another wizard, this time Spanish, to slot the ball into an empty net. Three nil and City were cruising. Three goals in thirteen incredible minutes.
Every single City player was having a great game. Those who last season had been found wanting were playing their hearts out and the rest were too.
Seventy four minutes saw the withdrawal of Johnson for another debutant in the shape of centre half Savic. This was followed quickly by a mistake by the Swansea keeper as he picked up a back pass in his own box. Dzeko played the ball a foot to his right to Toure who struck a smart shot along the floor which was saved by the thrice beaten but otherwise excellent Swansea keeper.
On eighty minutes Lita replaced Dyer for Swansea and Mancini also opted for his final substitution as Milner replaced the once again excellent David Silva.
Aguero was involved in the thick of things with great regularity and looked like he not only had two good feet but an outstanding footballing brain, finding space when off the ball and team mates when upon it.
As the rain began to fall on the Etihad Stadium, City were looking an emerging force and the added dimension that Aguero had given to the team was simply mouth-watering.
One minute to go and Dzeko earned a free kick centrally, three yards outside the Swansea box. Up stepped Milner who struck a neat shot through the wall but the keeper was up to the task. Seconds later though and he was beaten again by, you guessed it, Kun Aguero. He picked the ball up thirty yards out, took two paces forward and struck as sweet a shot as you like. The ball flew high over the despairing Swansea keeper and into the top of the net. Two goals and an assist in his first thirty minutes of football for Manchester City.
As the final whistle sounded City had a new star in Sergio Aguero and Swansea had been taught a lesson in football in what can only be termed a spectacular second half of pure football. The Blue Moon was not just rising, it was glittering. Stand up Kun Aguero and take a bow son, you were quite simply put, AMAZING.
Joe Hart – 8
Didn’t have much to do and only had a couple of saves to make. What he did do was good and his kicking looks much improved.
Micah Richards – 8.5
Without doubt the best right back in the Premier League. This guy has everything. Strength, pace and since playing under the tutelage of Mancini has added positional play and passing to his game, setting up Aguero for one of his goals.
Vincent Kompany – 8
A captain’s performance and didn’t put a foot wrong. Strong in the air and a tough man to get round. I think he will be Captain for the season and with great merit too.
Joleon Lescott – 8
Joleon has finally found his world class form again. He looked great at the end of last season and didn’t put a foot wrong today.
Gael Clichy – 8
Fast, intelligent and great in the tackle. He got forward well and put some great crosses into the box but didn’t once get caught out of position. Looks a good acquisition for the club and should be first choice left back.
Nigel De Jong – 8
Sat in front of the back four and created a near impenetrable wall. The best defensive midfielder in the Premier League and probably all of Europe.
Gareth Barry – 8
Although he doesn’t have the pace of some of his team mates, he carried the ball well, tackled well and his passing was impeccable.
Yaya Toure – 8
His trade mark runs at the Swansea defence were a joy to behold and reminiscent of Colin Bell. Could have had a couple of goals if luck had been on his side.
Adam Johnson – 8
One of his best games in a City shirt. Found the by line for crosses and was a constant thorn in the Swansea defence. I wish he played like that every game as he offered tremendous width to the side.
David Silva – 9.5
Made a couple of Messi-esque runs and this little Spanish Wizard is simply a fantastic player. He has brains, skill, pace and an understanding of the game that few possess.
Edin Dzeko – 9
After his spectacular goal against the rags Edin looks to be brimming with confidence. He held the ball up well. Won nearly all the high balls played to him and his touch is vastly improved. Capped a great performance off with a strikers goal!
Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero – 10
Came on to rapturous applause and a massive price tag. He more than lived up to his reputation, scoring two (the second a goal of the season candidate in his first half hour) and setting up one. Looks to have everything and be the complete striker.
Stefan Savic – 8
Didn’t put a foot wrong on his City debut and has the brooding looks of Richard Ashcroft!
Made some good runs and carried the ball well. Fits into the squad in a number of positions and will be an important player for City in their first Champion’s League tilt.
Roberto Mancini – 9
After a slow start saw his stalwarts take the game by the scruff of the neck and if not for the woodwork and some outstanding saves would have seen City outright top.
Brendan Rodgers – 8
Stuck to his footballing philosophy (learnt under the tutelage of one Jose Mourinho) and looked for the first twenty minutes like a Premier League side. Undone by world class players the likes of which he wont meet every week.