When Manchester City face Swansea City on Saturday, it will be a meeting of two in-form sides. Despite Paul Clement’s impact at the Swans, we are backing a 3-1 home win at 9/1 with Betfair.
Swansea looked dead and buried under former boss Bob Bradley, but Clement has reinvigorated the whole club, thanks in no small part to impressive victories over Liverpool and Southampton recently. City, on the other hand, had been criticised, especially after losing 4-0 at Everton last month, but they flexed their muscles with victory by the same scoreline against West Ham in midweek.
Pep Guardiola has always been known as a manager who is not afraid to take risks. The decision to leave both goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, the much-maligned goalkeeper, and in particular Sergio Aguero on the bench on Wednesday proved to be a masterstroke.
In his place was 19-year-old Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus, who arrived this month after a £27million move from Palmeiras. He is the first player to provide Aguero with genuine competition for his place, and his first goal could well open the floodgates this season. On Saturday, should he start again, Jesus will come up against a defence more suited to his style. He may be slight, but with the ball at his feet he is a real threat, and neither of Swansea’s central defenders, Alfie Mawson and Federico Fernandez, are particularly physical, playing right into his hands.
Yaya Toure’s role will dictate just how much of an impact Swansea will have on the game. Against West Ham, he played as the holding midfield player, allowing both David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to run freely in central areas. It was yet another new tactic from Guardiola and it worked perfectly, but the difference between Swansea and West Ham, is the former have more threat in that area, thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson. Toure can expect a tougher game because of the Icelandic man’s abilty to time runs leaving City more susceptible to counter attacks, especially if Toure allows the game to pass him by as he did against Everton, for example.
Fernando Llorente, as well as Sigurdsson, is Swansea’s main threat. With eight goals to his name, he provides a much needed focal point. Not only can be finish, but the Spaniard holds the ball up excellently, bringing Sigurdsson into play. The link-up play between the pair was in evidence against Liverpool and Clement will look to repeat the tactic. If Wayne Routledge or Jefferson Montero, two wingers brimming with pace and energy, can get in behind fullbacks Bacary Sagna and Alex Kolarov, who often play a high line, then delivery into Llorente can bring success. Against Liverpool, they played down the left hand side expertly.
It is unlikely that Paul Clement will come to the Etihad Stadium to sit and defend because it doesn’t play to his side’s strengths. The space was there to be exploited for City on Wednesday and it will be there again, giving them the edge. The visitors will have chances, though.