Date: 5th February 2017 at 8:41pm
Written by:

The Blue faithful flocked to the Etihad today to welcome the full home debut of their new Lord, Gabriel Jesus.

Spellbound by his short cameo against Spuds and blown away by his two away performances since the City fans couldn`t get there quick enough today in anticipation of another win against a resurgent Swansea City side which now looks much better organised under Paul Clement, and can no longer be considered a Premier League pushover.

Guardiola never leaves us complacent about his selections and today he chose another experimental element to his side by excluding Sagna and including Fernandinho. Originally it looked like a 3-5-1-1 line-up but Fernandinho spent a lot of time at right back creating a 4-3-3.

Caballero rightfully retained his place in goal with the rest of the back line made up of Stones, Kolarov and Clichy. Yaya, Silva and De Bruyne were the midfield trio with the new three-pronged attack of Sterling, Jesus and Sane up ahead.

And the Blues set off in lightning fashion, looking as if they were going to score every time they got the ball. In fact it was astonishing that Swansea kept City out for 10 minutes and when it came, right on cue it was the new messiah, once again responsible for keeping the Mighty Atom on the bench, and once again responsible for giving City the lead.

It started with a throw-in down City`s left. Clichy found Silva who accelerated past the right side of the Swansea defence. Having kept it in masterfully the Magician put in a low cross towards Sterling who was beaten to it by Mawson. The ball rebounded into the path of Jesus and in a flash it was in the net.

As they did against luckless West Ham on Wednesday, City were now intent on giving their fans a treat, the sort of thing that has not been readily available at the Etihad in recent weeks and watching Sane fly past the Swansea wide players, leaving them in his wake on one side and Sterling doing likewise down the other, it was clear that Clement`s homework was not being enacted by his men on the pitch.

That City did not go in at the half something like 3-0 up was another of the types of mystery that have beset them at home since the victory over Barcelona. The Swans had to revert to damage limitation, even where this involved something naughty and it was unbelievable that they didn`t collect some cards especially when Sterling outpaced them down the left and saw himself quite deliberately stopped.

Of course some moments later, around the half-hour mark when De Bruyne did something similar and committed what might have been City`s first foul, Mr Dean was all too ready to flash a yellow card. Indeed, Silva had his feet cut from beneath him even earlier, but this, too, went unpunished.

And then ahead of the break, Sterling was clean through on goal. To those of us with Sky Blue-tinted glasses we would say he was clipped, but Dean stared at his assistant long enough to get him to signal that Sterling dived and out came yellow once again. This effectively took Sterling out of the match because in the second half he was scared of going into tackles and equally scared to forage into the box in case he got a second yellow card.

In the second half City did not have it so easy. Swansea doubled up on Sane, who tormenting the life out of them, and got closer to Silva, Toure and De Bruyne who were threatening to tear them to shreds.

This seemed to give the Swans confidence and at last Sigurdsson started to get into the game. This is a quality player and I have never figured out why a team higher up the division hasn`t been attracted to him. Llorente and Fer, both of which looked a bit beefy, were starting to make their presence felt.

City couldn`t get going again with Fernandinho often guilty of giving the ball away and other were starting to miss tackles in midfield. The spectres of Everton, Southampton, Spurs and Middlesbrough started to become visible and with 10 minutes left it happened.

Clichy, once again wasn`t strong enough, allowing Fer to find Sigurdsson in the inside right position. Llorente drew some of the cover away and another Swansea player ran offside and into the sightline of Caballero. Sigurdsson did a quickstep to the left and drilled the ball in the direction of the offside player who got himself out of the way as the shot sped past Caballero and into the net.

But for the distraction caused by the rogue full back, I was disappointed that Willy let this in, but Sigurdsson is a quality operator and had caused Caballero to make an excellent save from a free-kick earlier in the half.

So here we were again at 1-1 in a match that should have left Swansea needing snookers by half time. From the tactics thereafter it was unclear whether the Swans had the ambition to go and try to win as they did at Anfield recently. On the one hand they took forever to take throw-ins but they did bring on some speed merchants. In the real world I suspect a 1-1 draw would have suited them.

City made the replacement that should have happened fifteen minutes sooner. As predicted Sterling`s yellow card left him short on appetite and surely Aguero would have the said hunger? Needless to say the introduction of Aguero brought an ovation. He is quite rightly a cult figure on the Etihad grades and murmurings of interest from Real Madrid and Chelsea do not make good reading with your cornflakes. It was up to City to break the stalemate, but the real opening would not come.

That was however until 2 minutes into stoppage time following a passage of play down City`s right, Silva sent in a cross right on to the head of Jesus. The Swansea keeper, Fabianski, did well to keep it out but could only spill the ball to the lightning feet of Jesus, who hadn`t given up on it, and he walked the ball into the net to give City a 2-1 lead. The Etihad erupted.

Yes indeed, Gabriel Jesus is a new found instant hero!

And there was still time for what should have been a third goal as Aguero found himself open but his body position wasn`t right for the header he tried and it would have been better to set up Jesus for his hat trick rather than try in desperation to get on the scoresheet.

Needless to say, just about everyone had Jesus down as man of the match. His ability to move around the field, take a heavy tackle and still get up and score a brace with a dedication and intensity we have seen since Carlos Tevez was poetry to watch and this incredible young man who has hit the ground running in the most demanding of competitions is hopefully going to be a catalyst for Pep`s plans. The doubts are already being cast about the role of Aguero, the hero for half a decade almost, whose swansong is almost audible if the tabloids are anything to go by. I really hope that Sergio has the desire to get himself back to his best and we will see probably the most prized and gifted goalscoring partnership in the Barclays Premier League.

Until Swansea scored we didn`t looked too troubled at the back, and once again, in the first half at least Yaya was ruling the midfield roost. With three more eminently winnable games on the immediate horizon City, now third in the league at the expense of Liverpool can find themselves in an advantageous position before they face the more demanding task of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea back to back. No doubt, for effect, the Premier League will stick the re-arranged Derby in among those matches, especially if City also have a Champions League match to contend. We sure can`t expect the BPL to offer us any respite.

Click for the forum