The first twenty minutes of a football match can be misleading.
During this period, Sky announced the possession statistics to be 67-33 in favour of the relegation fodder. With Swansea knocking the ball about with carefree abandon, it would have been difficult to pick out the top 4 side. Without testing Joe Hart, Swansea were about as impressive as they possibly could have been. A game of football lasts 90 minutes, however, and the Welsh side will have to maintain that level of intensity for a lot longer should they wish to take points from top teams this season. Manchester City upped the ante from the half hour mark and increased the pressure on the Swans higher up the pitch. That changed the game, suffocating the Welsh tiki taka, and with Yaya Touré imposing his game onto Leon Britton and Kemy Augustien – David Silva was given the freedom of Manchester to wander between the lines and weave his magic.
Swansea have an identity
All successful teams have one, and it appears Swansea will stick to theirs. They began the game imposingly, and dominated possession and territory comfortably. They will not play against Manchester City every week, and I suspect they will not be alone in departing the Etihad Stadium with their tails between their legs. Three-quarters of the Premier League will genuinely not look forward to visiting Swansea, where their comfort in their surroundings allows them more penetration in the final third. Mid-table teams will not be used to playing a promoted side willing to be patient and probing, and it is in these games where Swansea must define their season. Manchester City have the players capable of adapting to unfamiliar opposition – but much of the Premier League does not, and any team who fails to force Vorm into clearing the ball instead of picking out a team-mate will suffer. Even in crushing defeat, Swansea kept the ball for 52% of the time according to Sky – they just needed to be a little smarter with it in the opening exchanges last night, and they could have sprung a surprise.
It is fashionable to be harsh on Goalkeepers
Michel Vorm, Swansea’s No.1 and Holland’s No.2 was outstanding in his one-man attempt to thwart Manchester City. His shot stopping stole the show and but for his efforts, would have resulted in Swansea leaving Manchester far more downcast than they did. To criticise him, as Sky Sports commentators did last night for the first goal was hugely unfair. Adam Johnson’s flash shot was hit from the angle of the area, and across goal. Vorm, correctly stationed at his front post pushed the ball away from goal, and unfortunately onto Edin Dzeko’s foot. The shot was too low to tip over, hit too hard to catch and being positioned at the near post, left it impossible to tip around the far post. Slow motion replays have long been the bane of the Goalkeeper’s life, making them look slow to react and flat-footed. This was not the case last night however, as Vorm shone.
Joe Hart is not just England’s No.1, but one of the best keepers in the world.
Despite holding a watching brief for the vast majority of the game, stopping Dobbie’s deflected effort at full stretch on 56mins kept the scores at 0-0. Minutes later his side opened the scoring, and never looked back. Other, much vaunted goalkeepers have lamented being bored playing for sides who dominate matches on a regular basis. Their minds wander due to the lack of action, and when it comes to making that crucial save, they are not up to the task. Joe Hart is.
Fantasy Football web servers are top-of-the-range
Around 2200 yesterday evening, there was a surge of online activity that could have melted down lesser prepared websites, as Fantasy Football players around the UK hurriedly added Sergio Aguero to their teams. Such was his impact; netting twice and creating a goal for the incomparable David Silva, you can expect to see players incur transfer penalties just to get him in their side. £38million is a lot of money to justify, but if tweets, status updates and fantasy football transfers are anything to go by, then Manchester City may just have had as good value for money. It has been a long time since such a short-lived appearance made such a high-end impact. It evoked memories of the Premier League when the first influx of foreigners arrived on these shores, the likes of Bergkamp and Zola brandishing a new level of technical competence not seen in England’s top division before – bewitching opponents and delighting supporters in equal measure. If Aguero has half the level of impact as those two, we’ll be talking about him for years to come.
The ‘Jackarmy’ finally have a voice
And we were singgggging….Hymns and Aaaaaaaarias, Land of my Faaaaaathers, ar hyd y noooooos. The chant rang around the Etihad Stadium, particularly in the opening period which saw the first ‘foreign’ debutants in the Premier League use Max Boyce’s legendary song to add a Welsh flavour to proceedings. It was follicle-adjusting stuff, and the Premier League can expect more of the same when Swansea are in town. If the passionate Jackarmy can be as inspirational to the players as the famous ‘Swansea Jack’ dog (who, as legend has it, saved as many as 27 people during his lifetime) was to the people of Swansea, then Swansea will be well placed to survive. It has been a long time since Wales and indeed Swansea were given such a platform upon which to showcase themselves, and they certainly don’t intend to exit quietly.
This article was written by Dom O’Shea.