Manchester City's title-winning qualities on display in five-goal thrashing of Swansea City
- City celebrate first match as champions by beating Swansea City 5-0
- Goals from David Silva, Sterling, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Jesus
- Victory moves City on to 90 points and 29 wins for the season
It was an exhibition and a microcosm, Manchester City summing up their season with style, substance and statistics. A rout was both a masterclass and a celebration.
It began with the guard of honour formed by the Swansea City players and continued with City demonstrating why they are the new champions.
The figures showed they posted 90 Premier League points for the first time and completed a divisional record of 942 passes. In the first half, five of their players found a team-mate more often than the entire Swansea team. “The performance is the most important thing but the numbers are the numbers,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
Yet if anything encapsulated their domination of the division this season, it was the chant that came when Federico Fernandez chopped down Raheem Sterling to concede a penalty.
“Give it to Ederson,” chorused the City faithful. At a point in a campaign when previous title races have been on a knife-edge, supporters wanted their goalkeeper to take a spot kick.
Which, actually, might not have been the worst suggestion, and not merely because of Ederson’s excellence with the ball at his feet. His fellow Brazilian Gabriel Jesus stepped up instead and was denied by a combination of Lukasz Fabianski and the post. Bernardo Silva nevertheless swept in the rebound. Jesus got his goal anyway, with a flying header from Yaya Toure’s chipped pass.
It took City to 98 league goals. In all competitions, Bernardo Silva has eight, suggesting he could become their seventh man to hit double figures. It was a sign of City’s potency when David Silva was the sixth to reach 10.
“When a team just depends on one or two players to score goals you cannot achieve what we achieve,” Guardiola said. This illustrates his ethos. City do not have specialist scorers as much as a band of hugely accomplished footballers who are capable of finding the net. Lovely team goals sandwiched a wonderful individual strike from Kevin de Bruyne.
They were elegantly ruthless. Swansea arrived intent on defending, fielding a 5-4-1 formation. They were still behind inside 12 minutes and two adrift after 16. David Silva and Sterling were common denominators.
City began by stroking the ball around and then, with enviable ease, scored from their first meaningful attacks. De Bruyne was the instigator, sliding a pass to Sterling. His cutback was met by David Silva, who first flicked the ball up and then dispatched a low volley.
Then David Silva formed the meat in a sandwich as Fabian Delph played a one-two with him. He delivered a low centre and Sterling, in behind a Swansea defence who thought they were playing offside, had a simple finish.
De Bruyne provided the pick of the goals with a rasping, rising shot that flew past Fabianski. It was another indication of what an extraordinary player the Belgian has become. This was his fifth goal from outside the box the box this season. “When you are analysing 10 months, there is no player better than him,” added Guardiola, arguing De Bruyne is the player of the season.
City could also savour the sight of Benjamin Mendy coming on for his first appearance since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in September. He looked understandably rusty but was greeted with a rousing ovation.
One of the stories of City’s season has been how well they have coped without their sole specialist left-back but the returning Mendy was mobbed in the pitch invasion that followed the final whistle.
Swansea’s defeat was a reprieve for West Bromwich Albion, whose relegation would have been ratified if they had avoided defeat. The damage done to their goal difference could yet be a factor, though manager Carlos Carvalhal denied morale was damaged. After all, they are not alone in being eviscerated by City.
Updated: April 22, 2018 10:12 PM