If anyone thought that Manchester City was going to take their foot off the gas after officially clinching the Premier League title last weekend they were proven very wrong after Saturday’s match against Swansea City. Pep Guardiola started a full strength squad that proceeded to punish their opponents to the tune of a 5-0 victory. This game was the first in what will be a five game mic drop as City strives to break every single season record that exists.
Swansea City didn’t have much hope coming into this game despite the success they’ve had with new manager Carlos Carvalhal and tried to find a point by backing that bus right up in front of goal. You can’t really blame them for the strategy but it was quickly apparent that this game was only going to end in one way. City were in peak form and were moving the ball around with ease, completing almost 1,000 passes in the match! Carvalhal brought his team out in a 5-4-1 with Jordan Ayew isolated up top as the lone pressure valve though Swansea was overall unsuccessful in getting him involved at all.
Pep really didn’t have to do much to get his attack moving (all of City’s outfield players were regularly positioned well into Swansea’s half) but City did clearly shift the field and focused their build up down the left side of the field. Raheem Sterling actually vacated the left wing regularly in this structure and played as more a second striker behind Gabriel Jesus. With Swansea’s reinforced backline, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne would flare out wide to dictate possession where the defense would be forced to abandon their shape to compensate. The first two City goal were direct results of this left-sided attack, with quick one-touch passing getting them down to the endline before making the final pass to David Silva and Raheem Sterling, respectively.
With two central midfielders occupying wide positions, right back Danilo would step into the defensive midfield to account for this space while Bernardo Silva maintained width down the right. Their spacing allowed for fast switches of play to the right where Bernardo would be able to attack defenders one-on-one. This structure along with a dramatic advantage in talent and Swansea’s inability to maintain any sense of possession led to the dominating display by the Premier League champs.
This game was one of the most fun to watch all season simply because we were allowed to truly appreciate the greatness of this team without any context of the standings or other competitions. It’s all gravy at this point and this match had every aspect you could ever want.
Kevin De Bruyne unleashed a ridiculous long-distance goal that is an easy 10 on the rewatchability scale.
Phil Foden got a good chunk of playing time and looked fantastic, regularly beating defenders off the dribble.
The Yaya Toure farewell tour began and reminded everyone that the tank is far from empty. His mobility is obviously a concern (he did make a great defensive recovery at the end of the game though) but this man can still boss a midfield. He made some great passes, had the assist on Gabriel Jesus’ goal off a nice chip, and easily could have had another.
But most importantly perhaps, Benjamin Mendy returned to action just because this game had to be perfect in every way. He was a little rusty but he showed spurts of the power and distribution that were so lethal early in the season. It’s scary to think that this team could get even better next season with a healthy Mendy adding dynamism to the left back position.
The response from the fans during and after the game was also a joy to watch and I think we all wished we could have been a part of that. Manchester City are Premier League champions and may establish themselves as the best team in the history of the league before season’s end. This makes me (and I’m assuming everyone reading this) very happy so let’s bask in the glory.