Renewed spirit from Swansea in Man City draw

Posted by Max Hicks

Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm punches clearPA PhotosSwansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm punches clear against Man City

A much improved performance from Swansea City saw the side earn a fair 0-0 draw against an underwhelming Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium.

Given Swansea's woeful play of late, a lazy Manchester City had evidentially expected to show up and roll over the Swans with a practice pitch performance, much like Chelsea did last week. Roberto Mancini and his men probably weren't expecting a show of renewed spirit from the Swans (neither was I), and for the majority of the first half, Swansea attacked and counter-attacked with something approaching the verve and confidence of their earlier season vintage.

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The second half belonged to Manchester City, although the Swans still looked to break often, and remained composed defensively all game. Edin Dzeko might have ruined Swansea's day had he not tapped a sitter wide; David Silva repeated the trick moments later. Nevertheless, the Swans overall performance was encouraging after last week's dismal showing.

Although Michael Laudrup didn't really rotate the squad in earnest, he chose to change things a little by running his three wingers formation, with Jonathan De Guzman preferred to Ki Sung-Yueng in the deep role. Perhaps as a consequence, Wayne Routledge had his best game for a few weeks, with his second-level counterparts Nathan Dyer and Pablo also showing some quality.

Laudrup did at least introduce some less familiar faces from the bench. Kemy Agustien played for the first time in a long time, reminding everyone how the Swans midfield might look with a little more muscle in the mix. Agustien's robust performance, evident ball skills and composure suggest that with a little more game-to-game consistency, he might deserve a lot more playing time. The Swans defence was also back to its best; Ash Williams was dependable and physical, Chico Flores a force of nature.

Before this game, Swansea hadn't been awarded a penalty in league play all season. On the evidence of referee Mike Jones's stand-out decision on Saturday, it's hard to imagine what might have to happen for that to change. After corralling a long pass from de Guzman, Michu was comprehensively wiped out by Manchester City's Matija Nastasic in the box, with nothing given. The Swans have had many borderline penalty calls this season; this was perhaps the strongest yet. City may feel like they, too, were wrongly denied a penalty, although it looked like Dzeko was trying his best to fall over Chico Flores's prone leg and so rightly won nothing from Jones.

If nothing else, Saturday's draw was a reminder that the Swans, on their day, are still an excellent side. This wasn't a complete performance by any stretch, but was at least a commendable effort, and a point from Manchester City is a solid result. If Michael Laudrup can find the right new players to add to the squad, sufficient to allow him to rotate, rest and induce competition for places, then next season's Swans could be very special. With Europe on the horizon, the timing couldn't be better.

Final Thoughts:

Positives: The long overdue return to form; everything else was as a result of that.

Negatives: Michu picking up an injury. Jones's penalty decision.

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