City’s home swagger shows no sign of ending
Samir Nasri impresses with two goals in win over Swansea
Samir Nasri scores Manchester City’s second goal during the Premier League match against Swansea City at Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Manchester City 3 Swansea 0: With this win Manchester City move smoothly into third place. Manuel Pellegrini’s band have a test in Wednesday evening’s trip to West Bromwich Albion but at home they cannot stop winning.
The record now stands at a perfect seven victories and if City can overturn their miserable away form – four defeats and only one win from six attempts – they will pose the greatest threat to Arsenal, who are six points ahead of them.
An afternoon that would include two goals from the continually impressive Samir Nasri, the second a low shot that sealed the points towards the end, nearly began as briskly as against Tottenham Hotspur the previous Sunday.
Sergio Agüero received an Álvaro Negredo tip around-the-corner but as he raced at Gerhard Tremmel’s goal the shot was weak and so precluded any repeat of Jesus Navas’s 14-second opener eight days ago.
In perhaps a clear signal that Joe Hart is going to endure a lonely festive period Costel Pantilimon was again handed the No 1 jersey by the manager.
The two saves he produced in quick succession from Jonjo Shelvey – each stretching his 6ft 8in frame to the right – suggested it may be a long wait for Hart before the Romanian fashions sufficient howlers to be stood down.
Shelvey, who impressed throughout the first half, came close to creating his side’s equaliser when he ran at the backpeddaling City defence before finding Álvaro Vázquez with a neat reverse pass Swansea’s lone striker should have finished.
Before this Negredo had claimed a 12th in 19 appearances for his new club. The Spaniard drew a free-kick when José Canas clipped his heels, then stepped forward to thump it beyond Tremmel.
Nasri, who is enjoying a fine campaign, later began a swift move near the centre circle that he nearly finished. From the ensuing corner, delivered by the Frenchman, an unmarked Martin Demichelis headed the ball against Tremmel’s bar.
At the end of the half the Argentinian suffered the indignity of being deposited on his backside by the slick turn of Jonathan de Guzmán, who had been found by Shelvey, but the Canadian blasted over.
The near-miss, though, signalled the danger for City of sitting back and Pellegrini, who was unhappy at the sluggish display in the 4-2 win over Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday evening, will have reminded his troops during the interval of the need to wake up.
Negredo might have answered this call immediately at the start of the second stanza but mis-controlled when through. City suffered a further scare when De Guzmán got in behind but his shot was plucked from the air by those long levers of Pantilimon.
Pellegrini spent most of the half prowling the technical area, hoping to see the second and third goals that would secure a sixth home league win to maintain his side’s 100 per cent record before their own crowd.
After 58 minutes the Chilean’s mood began to brighten. Yaya Touré, who had been quiet this far, slipped in Nasri and the playmaker produced a finish of which Agüero would be proud, zipping the ball past Tremmel for a fourth of the season before later adding the fifth.