After a bruising series of games, the City players stepped up at the National Stadium, the temporary home of Tottenham Hotspur. Showing a resilience and quality which had been questioned after their meek capitulation against the Stretford Galacticos and departure from the Champions League in quick succession, they delivered a superb 1-3 victory to secure another league double over one of the top sides in the division. Make no mistake it took real character, individual self-belief and collective courage to take the game to a side that hadn’t suffered defeat in the league since being thumped at the Etihad in December and which had only lost one other game since then – against Juventus.
Well done Pep and the whole squad.
That fantastic response ensured that the mood of dispirited Blues everywhere improved significantly………..but no one expected that they were about to be feeling a whole lot better less than twenty-four hours later.
I doubt that any Blues truly awake on Sunday morning feeling that by the end of the day their relief at having avoided a damaging fourth consecutive victory would have turned to jubilation as Moaning Maureen’s players delivered the Premier League title to their rivals. Gift wrapped. With a bow on it.
Schadenfreude has ever been so gilt edged.
After denying City the historic opportunity to secure their third title of the Premier League era at home a week ago, the rags had been in seventh heaven. They had been ecstatic. But as Liverpool found out, being the holders of the ‘We beat Manchester City’ Cup can carry a price. The scousers went mental after narrowly inflicting City’s first league defeat of the season back in January…..…only to then lose to Swansea and, interestingly, West Bromwich Albion.
And it was the Baggies who delivered the coup de grâce on Sunday afternoon when the club firmly nailed to the foot of the league table stunned the ‘faithful’ at the Theatre of Nightmares by beating the Stretford Galacticos 0-1. Maureen looked a forlorn figure in the pouring rain as he watched his team sleepwalk through a game clearly still living off their reputations & the adoration they had received for their efforts against City…….only to find that their opponents were not prepared to roll over. Jay Rodriguez delivered the fatal blow and started the exodus from the Old Toilet. They cleared the decks almost as quickly as the Spurs fans fed from Wembley.
The net result……..
The Manchester City players, Pep Guardiola and his coaching team will step out onto the pitch at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon as the champions of the Premier League. But whilst the Swansea players may honour their opponents with a guard of honour there will be no coronation for City as there remains work to be done.
Pep and his players will enter the final phase of a record breaking season in search of further success – there are potential targets in terms of points and goals scored to pursue. Pep has spoken previously about respecting the competition so I am sure he will not suddenly field the U23s and will want to allow his players the opportunity to finish a remarkable season in style. That said I am sure he will give more time to youngsters such as Foden and Diaz, especially in the absence of Sergio Aguero. Plus with Benjamin Mendy having recently featured for the U23s we can expect to see the French international play some first team minutes before the end of the campaign – I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come on as a substitute on Sunday for a small cameo.
Swansea home into their game far from safe. Although they have a 5 point cushion over Southampton who, along with Stoke City and WBA, are in the box seats to go down, they will be anxious to try and keep that gap as large as possible. This presents their manager Carlos Carvalhal with a real conundrum – sit tight and try and secure a point or nick a win through a set play or counter-attack, or go for it? Such a dilemma may well present an opportunity to a City side who have been adept at solving problems like this throughout the campaign.
City have won five of the last six meetings against the Swans who come into this fixture without a win in their last five games (L3 D2).
One thing is for certain – there will be no complacency from the City players. The main job may have been done but they will have been left under no illusions from their coach that they can kick back and relax. He will demand the maximum effort both out of respect for what they have achieved and the respect that he demands is shown to all the other teams in the league and the competition itself. Also – there is history to be written.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Constantine Hatzidakis
Fourth official: Paul Tierney
City will be without Sergio Aguero after it was revealed he had arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) performed on his right knee during the week and will have played his last game of the season for City. Hopefully he will recover in time for the World Cup. His knee had been troubling him before the derby but was done no favours by the disgraceful foul committed on him by the man masquerading as a footballer, Ashley Young. Stones is also unavailable due to an abductor strain. Fernandinho will be serving the second of his two-game suspension for collecting 10 bookings. A small price to pay perhaps for fouling that despicable individual Ander Herrera.
Swansea are awaiting late tests on Clucas and Narsingh. For, Bony and Sanches are all unavailable due to long term injuries.
Possible starting XI:-
Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Delph
De Bruyne, Gundogan, Silva D
Sterling, G Jesus, Sané
Bravo, Mendy, Laporte, Danilo, Foden, Diaz, Silva B
The Premier League trophy won’t be presented on Saturday – that will take place on 6th May when City are at home to Huddersfield – but the ground is bound to be absolutely rocking on Sunday afternoon as the City fans welcome home the players and Pep Guardiola, the 2017/18 Premier League Champions!
What better way to celebrate than by delivering yet another masterclass in football?
Let’s get the job done in style.
Come on City!!!