Date: 21st September 2016 at 10:10pm
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Gylfi Sigurdsson’s injury-time goal proved far too little too late as Manchester City go through to the fourth round of the EFL Cup with a 2-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium.

As always before the game, much was said about Guidolin’s first team selection. Kyle Naughton’s inclusion in front of Angel Rangel on the right flank was a strange one, but we later learnt that Montero was missing due to a knock, while Barrow was struggling with illness, but he did come on as a sub later on.

Elsewhere in the side, van der Hoorn came in alongside Amat and Taylor replaced Kingsley. In midfield, Leon Britton, Jay Fulton and Jack Cork formed a central three with Borja making his full debut up top.

The Swans sat in a deep 4-5-1 defensive shape early on, with both sides happy to just pass it about in the middle third for opening 10-15 minutes.

The game slowly started to come to life mid-way through, as the visiting goalkeeper began to show his weakness with the ball at his feet. Jack Cork wasted a great chance in front of goal from about 20 yards out, when he couldn’t even distribute the ball to a team-mate. Borja should have also punished the goalkeeper but he was able to recover to tip the striker’s effort over the bar for a corner. Manchester City also had a few openings but nothing clear cut, as Amat and van der Hoorn were never really under significant pressure.

At the other end, the Swans were missing on the flanks, while Borja didn’t have an attacking player like Sigurdsson or Fer to play off. However, he did well with the little opportunities he had, and he looks like a confident player that could make things happen for himself. Compared to Llorente, there was a lot more movement from Borja, he was looking for passes to be played through to him in behind the defence and he was able to take a few long range shots on goal.

He was taken off with 15 minutes to play. Why? Who knows, whether it was Guidolin accepting the game was out of reach or saving him for Saturday, but he didn’t replace him with Llorente, and opted to bring on Barrow to add some much needed pace on the right. Sigurdsson then played up top, who later scored after linking up with the winger’s low cross.

The Swans made a classic start to the second half, conceded within the opening few minutes. City stepped up their game after the break and showed their superior clinical edge, while the Swans had to work a lot harder to carve out a half chance.

It was a game of few chances, both sides had 4 shots on target, but it was always Manchester City who looked far more likely to go on and win the game, especially after their opener. As the Swans brought on reinforcements in attack, they had to sacrifice some of their defensive cover in midfield. The away side took advantage of this and netted an expected second. The game looked to be over – Sigurdsson’s 93rd minute strike from Barrow’s low cross only gave the Swans a minute or so to get an equaliser.

It’s yet another defeat, but it wasn’t a frustrating one like on Sunday. The team applied themselves far better, there was a lot more effort and desire on show. Leon Britton definitely adds a much needed quality in possession, but having played 90 minutes, you can’t see him starting again on Saturday. Fulton was also impressive and was safe in midfield too. van der Hoorn did well alongside Amat, and it was a defensive partnership that looks no worse than Amat and Fernandez.

With Saturday’s game coming up, against against what will now be a full-strength Manchester City, you wonder what starting line-up Guidolin will go with. He’s made too many changes in terms of personnel and formations, and he desperately needs to find a system with good balance that works. For me, that should involve Leon Britton at the very least.

 
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