Matches following Champions League fixtures are notoriously tricky affairs and the result was always going to outweigh the display for significance. City lined up in the familiar shape employed for the bulk of last season - the 4-2-2-2 / 4-4-2 / 4-2-3-1 – call it what you will, with Tevez back in the line up and Kolarov given a surprise start on the left hand side of midfield. His selection was damning for Scott Sinclair who would have held aspirations of featuring against his former club. Nastasic also came into the side at centre half as Lescott was again reduced to a substitute role.
Swansea arguably shaded a first half in which the atmosphere was subdued and the players in blue still seemed to be attempting to banish Wednesdays events from their minds. The football was disjointed and uninspiring, the epitome of flat. Joe Hart was called into action and saved well from Michu when put clear and Swansea were a little tougher and better organised than many perhaps expected, with most pre game predictions backing City to score a hatful. The opening half limped to its conclusion.
The first 15 minutes of the second period witnessed a City response to the mediocrity that preceded it as they came out and looked to raise their game – the first real spell of dominance culminating in Tevez’s fantastic strike, spearing a shot into the corner from distance past the despairing dive of Vorm in the Swansea goal. The Dutchman unfortunately tore a groin muscle in his attempt to reach the ball - cue stoppage number one – and the goalkeeper was subsequently stretchered from the field. The delay seemed to affect City as again the play dropped off considerably before there was another long stoppage as Micah Richards went down in the City area with noone else around him. Kolo Toure came on for a cameo display at right back. There really was not much else to report.
The positives can be summed up accordingly: three points, a clean sheet and a wonder goal from Tevez, whose influence in a deeper role had been considerable after the break following Ballotelli’s introduction for Kolarov. Credit has to go to Mancini for this switch, although perhaps the team that started the 2nd period should have been the one that started the match. Gareth Barry had a typically industrious match, Nastasic again looked very comfortable on the ball and there were flashes of quality from Nasri. Sergio Aguero is still searching for a little form and confidence after a disrupted start to the campaign – the feeling exists that all it will take is for one strike to get the little Argentine up and running again however.
Assessment on Richards’ knee injury – the one real negative from the match - is likely to confirm an absence until the Christmas period at least. One hopes that either Pablo Zabaleta or the hitherto unseen Maicon can return to fitness ahead of a tricky looking encounter at Upton Park next weekend. A fixture against a Sam Allardyce side is not for the faint hearted and will be a good test for the divisions only unbeaten side. City will need to be strong and organised and hope their greater quality will hurt the Hammers. A week of R and R is just what the doctor ordered until then.
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez