Verdict: Manchester City 4 Swansea City 0
Goals: Dzeko 57 mins, Aguero 68 mins, 90+2 mins, Silva 71 mins for City.
Four goals in the second half saw City’s Premier League campaign up and running as Sergio Aguero provided his own welcome to Manchester. No need for a poster to announce this Argentine’s arrival.
The goals were all the sweeter after several first half misses in an excellent game where Swansea played their part. Aguero stole the headlines with a 30 minute run out that delivered two goals, an assist and the promise of a lot more to come.
Roberto Mancini was true to his word in starting with the Argentine on the bench. He was joined by Kolarov who made way for Clichy.
Barry returned ahead of Milner, while the main surprise in the starting eleven was Adam Johnson in place of Mario Balotelli. Maybe it was the Italian’s troublesome knee that kept on the bench, however, it was a timely boost for Johnson.
The England winger was a consistent threat, having a hand in three goals, in what was arguably his best performance since returning from injury last season. Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was the better winger during pre-season, failed to make the bench which signals a move may be imminent.
The first-half began with a blocked Yaya shot before Swansea began to display the excellent passing game which saw them promoted last season. The extent to which City were chasing shadows started to cause concern, even if few chances were being created.
Eventually Nigel de Jong started to press higher up the pitch and City saw more of the ball. The physical strength of several City players was noticeable as Swansea were outmuscled from their rhythm.
In contrast to the Swans, City’s possession resulted in chances and by half-time the frustration was that we hadn’t taken any.
David Silva was at the heart of everything, but once again he failed to convert opportunities. Yaya was mixing strong approach play with weak finishing, while Dzeko never quite looked like finding the right finish. The half ended with Barry following Silva in striking the bar.
The second half saw City finally make the breakthrough. Lescott bringing the ball out of defence, then Silva shaking off challenges, before playing the ball out for Johnson to drive in and shoot. The previously excellent Vorm palmed the ball into Dzeko’s path and without appearing to know too much about it, the Bosnian scored.
Cue the fun to really start as Aguero replaced de Jong. Kun turned and fired in a powerful shot with his first involvement. The link-up play between him and Silva looks to be an excellent way of opening up defences.
Playing in Yaya’s role behind Dzeko, Kun offers more movement and link-up play with the Bosnian as well. The only slight concern was whether Yaya and Barry would be sharp enough to contain Swansea’s interpassing.
It didn’t matter when one of Micah’s buccaneering runs was finally rewarded with a goal as Aguero opened his City account, turning in a perfect cross. It was in this poacher’s finish that the comparisons with Romario looked justfied.
After Kun teed up Silva for a richly rewarded goal, Mancini’s introduction of Savic led to a rarely seen three at the back with Richards and Clichy operating as wing-backs.
It will be interesting to see if this formation is used in more demanding situations. Here it enabled us to get a glimpse of Savic and he looked very composed.
There was youthful confidence in his passing, even after one went astray. A little more time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League may be required before he can be relied on to stand in for Kompany or Lescott.
Clichy on the other hand looked like he’d been with us for years. Left-back no longer felt like a problem position. Kolarov has his qualities, but Clichy is more of an athlete, and better suited to the pace of the English game.
The Frenchman made some of his trademark interceptions and when he ventured upfield there was always Barry or Lescott to cover for him. Maybe this is what he lacked at Arsenal.
The final word on the game belongs to Aguero for his injury time strike. A superb goal to send everyone home happy.
Roberto Mancini: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/14538374.stm
“It was the perfect start. It was important to start the season very well and it was important to score the goals and score with the strikers.
“I know Aguero very well but I don’t think he is 100%. He played in the Copa America and he needs to do more in training.”
We now wait to see if Aguero starts at Bolton, and the extent of de Jong’s injury. There’s no like for like replacement for the dutchman and it will be interesting to see what Mancini does if he’s absent.
Whoever plays, our midfield and attack look capable of causing anyone problems. Swansea had their moments, and no doubt Bolton will too, but this side looks capable of plenty more victories.