How many more teams will find themselves shot down by Manchester City in what is rapidly becoming the Etihad execution chamber?
The fate of any opponents who stray into the air space and consequent crosshairs of the sharp-shooting Mancunians is virtually guaranteed – they’re dead ducks.
First came a murder of magpies, followed by an opera of canaries and now a squadron of swans, all mercilessly culled and dispatched for a cumulative score line of 14-0, as majestic Manchester City soar to new heights.
Similar to the ‘Monica’ of one of City’s most famous fans Noel Gallagher, the team are the Premier League’s rapidly ascending ‘high flying birds’, spreading their wings and preying on those unable to adequately defend themselves.
Michael Laudrup’s elegant Swansea side succumbed to their almost inevitable Etihad fate, as City peppered the visitor’s goal with 22 attempts of which three struck home, to preserve the host’s impeccable 100% record on their own turf.
Win number seven, with 29 goals scored and a paltry two conceded, owed much to the renaissance of Samir Nasri. He bagged a brace at the climax of two fast, free flowing forays as the Sky Blues tore at the flesh of the wounded Welsh side.
Nasri is virtually unrecognisable from the infuriatingly inconsistent, stuttering playmaker who receded into his shell under the tutelage of Roberto Mancini.
The fiery Italian ex-City boss was quoted as saying he wanted to punch the French playmaker in the face during last season’s disappointing campaign, such were his frustrations at the underperforming midfield maestro.
Under Manuel Pellegrini’s somewhat different approach to ‘man management’ Nasri has blossomed, never more so than in the absence David Silva, the man usually credited with having the guile and creativity to make City thrive.
With new confidence instilled and responsibility assumed, the once sulky and petulant player has emerged as a potent attacking force all smiles and a model of joie de vivre.
Whereas he’d twice hit the bar in the last two games, Nasri hit the net instead, in what eventually turned into a routine City home victory, after a first half where Swansea more than held their own.
Costel Pantilimon was twice called upon to make impressive saves from long range strikes from Jonjo Shelvey. The Romanian stopper quite rightly berated his colleagues for dropping off and allowing the ex- Liverpool midfielder the time to find his range.
A returning Vincent Kompany will hopefully bring urgency and an improved work ethic to a sometimes lackadaisical defence.
Alvaro Negredo put City on course for the win with a stunning 25-yard free kick which had Swans keeper Tremmel masquerading as a mannequin, such was his lifeless form as the ball whizzed into the corner of his net.
Familiar chants of ‘Beast, Beast, Beast’ reverberated around the Stadium as the home fans lauded their new Spanish hit man, now with 12 goals to his name in 10 starts and nine substitute appearances.
Both of Nasri’s goals came from City’s fluidity of movement. The first saw Yaya Toure rampaging – as only he can – through Swansea’s midfield, before dinking a delicate pass into Nasri’s path in the 18 yard box.
He side stepped one tackle and buried the ball past Tremmel just before the hour mark. City’s third was even better. Surrounded by Swansea players, substitute James Milner produced the perfect pass as Pablo Zabaleta powered down the right flank.
With the afterburners at full throttle, Zaba was behind the massed bank of Swans defenders before pulling the ball back into Nasri’s stride pattern, so he could side-foot home from 15 yards out.
Nonetheless, Swansea gave a good account of themselves and could have been more potent but for the missing striker force of Michu and Bony.
Conversely, City could have doubled their tally with Demichelis heading against the bar, Zaba shooting inches over and Nasri, going for his hat-trick, steering a beautiful arcing effort a fraction the wrong side of Tremmel’s post.
City, missing vital vertebrae from the spine of the team either by the manager’s choice or injury, still showed themselves to be a team on the rise, the coming force in this season’s scramble for the PL title.
They did so in spite of referee Mark Clattenburg’s best attempts to sabotage a City win. This unctuous, wig-wearing official always contrives to short change City. Aguero was booked for a handball offence – a Swansea player wasn’t when he did likewise.
Aguero was blatantly bodychecked in the run up to a Swansea breakway that could have resulted in an equaliser, had Jonathan De Guzman not fired into row z when through on goal.
Clattenburg had just waved play on in is his inimitable theatrical style of vain posturing.
Back to people who really matter on the pitch…the players and the eventual restoration of Joe Hart to the team, as well as the return from injury of Kompany, Matija Nastasic and David Silva, should only make a good thing even better.
City are threatening to hit a vein of form that could leave other title contenders struggling to keep up.
December offers the perfect acid test as the fixtures fly in, thick and fast, with a further 18 PL points up for grabs, plus progression in the Capital One Cup and consolidation of a Champions League knockout stage berth.
Pellegrini’s immediate target is to have City at least within three points of present PL leaders, Arsenal, if the Gunners are still top on New Year’s Day.
Catching and eventually overhauling Arsene Wenger’s side, will be all the easier if City can win their crunch match-up when the North Londoners come to the Etihad on 14th December.
Before that come two tough away trips to WBA and Southampton. Picking up wins on their travels is seemingly, the only element preventing City running away with the PL.
Of course it’s a huge element, but if they can take seven from nine points at the Hawthorns, St Mary’s and Craven Cottage, City can welcome in the New Year with both confidence and momentum.
The proverbial duck shoot at the Etihad can continue unabated and City will be as far away from being Christmas turkeys as one can possibly imagine. Keep on stuffing the opposition and a tasty sponsorship deal with Paxo could soon be on the commercial activities menu!
By David Walker
#READ BUT NEVER RED @djwskyblu