Pep Guardiola had a lot of good things to say about Swansea City in his pre-match press conference. He said that Sunday will be one of the toughest games from now to the end of the season. After wins at Anfield agianst Liverpool and at home to Southampton, Guardiola thinks that this weekend’s game will be “real, real tough" for Manchester City.
With that in mind, here are three things to watch as the Blues hope to produce another entertaining performance:
1 - Striking Formation
Swansea are “in a good moment” that makes them a threat to City’s hopes of continuing their winning streak. However, the Blues have been on their own tear, pressing opponents — both in and out of possession — in successive matches that have allowed City to exhibit their unique character as a team.
Pep said that the biggest improvement in his team is that they have scored with much more ease. Guardiola’s formational fluidity, which hinges on hustle, has clicked with Gabriel Jesus up top and Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva scouring the midfield.
Will the combination of Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling on the wings return to torment the Swans? Will Sergio Agüero get the start or will the front five remain the same after the wildly successful performance at West Ham United?
2 - Keeper and Kompany
Many are wondering whether Willy Caballero will get the nod for the third straight match after clean sheets at Crystal Palace and West Ham.
Honestly, I’d love to see Claudio Bravo redeem himself but the fate of the season appears a little brighter with Willy between the posts. The entire shape of the defense has looked more settled in the last two games.
Another major key to City’s stability is Vincent Kompany, who was rested during the West Ham match after playing a full ninety at Palace. If he can maintain his place in the rotation, the Sky Blue defense would be sure to provide much more maturity and stability for the squad’s high-flying forwards.
Even without the illustrious Belgian defender, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi were able to control the pace and direction of the game at West Ham and kept Caballero worry free and confident.
If Kompany is on the pitch against Swansea, the confidence is bound to expand.
3 - Consistency
Guardiola is a bit more pleased with the improved strength in his side’s goal-scoring capabilities and their strength on defense. Opposing teams have to have already taken notice of the distinct change in City’s squad. If they frequently find themselves up two or three goals at the half, like they did against the Hammers, the outlook for this season will be much, much brighter.
There is no doubt that opposition from England and Europe will press harder and work smarter than West Ham and Palace did against City, but the fact that title challengers Tottenham Hotspur were the victim of a dominant performance from the Citizens for most of that match is a promising sign.
If they press with a lot of energy and regularly find the back of the net with ease, the Blues could put their mid-season woes behind and focus on a bright future.
It is difficult to imagine that City could come out flat on Sunday. Not only do they need three points, they need to advance in the Champions League, which is quickly approaching, and that is no small feat.
Keeping opponents uneasy, holding opposing forwards at bay, and using speed to open up shots on goal will be the primary elements of focus for the team. With these things in place, they look far more likely to realize their potential this season.