Swansea Manchester City FA Cup Tactical Analysis
artwork by @chapluana

Swansea City scored two before Manchester City returned three in the second half to advance into the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Manchester City had put seven past Schalke in their previous fixture. They entered this match against Swansea City on the back of that and might have expected an easy passage into the semi-finals. However, Manchester City found themselves two-nil down at half-time and needed some spellbinding attacking play and controversial calls to overturn the two-goal deficit.

City demonstrated their champion mentality in the second half but were lucky to come out on top. Nevertheless, one should not forget to admire Swansea’s gritty performance that left the defending Premier League champions frustrated.

Swansea City score two in the first half!

City started this game on the front foot and looked more likely to score than Swansea. Kristoffer Nordfeldt made a few brilliant saves to deny Manchester City from breaking the deadlock. However, Swansea earned an early advantage as Fabian Delph, who made his first start in almost two months, fouled Roberts inside the penalty box. The referee pointed to the spot and Grimes converted to hand Swansea the lead.

Nine minutes later, they doubled their lead from a move that started from their goalkeeper and was finished by Bersant Celina. This was a youngster who had been trolled on social media for fluffing a penalty against West Brom. Here, the ex-Manchester City midfielder produced a stunning shot past the diving Ederson. Manchester City’s hopes of the quadruple looked to be in tatters.

Swansea Manchester City FA Cup Tactical Analysis
Swansea set up in a 4-4-2 formation.

Manchester City, however, were not ready to give up. They intensified their quest for goals and attacked relentlessly and brutally but were denied time and again by Nordfeldt and co. Swansea set up their formation in a 4-4-2 which at times transformed into 5-4-1. This forced City to attack down the flanks and whip crosses into the box.

Swansea Manchester City FA Cup Tactical Analysis
At times the 4-4-2 formation transformed into 5-4-1

City return three in the second half

For all the urgency and purpose they showed, Manchester City reaped their reward in the second half. They kept knocking at the door and scored their first goal in the 69th minute. Bernardo Silva, who was brilliant throughout the evening, got City off the mark with a top-quality finish.

The Portuguese international dazzled for City and consistently contributed to their attack and defence. He attempted five shots, three of those on target. Silva also played three crosses and three long balls against Swansea City. Furthermore, the midfielder also produced three key passes. Defensively, Silva made three tackles and an interception.

Swansea Manchester City FA Cup Tactical Analysis
Bernardo Silva heatmap [credit: whoscored.com]
Nine minutes after their first goal, a contentious decision from the referee saw Manchester City given a chance to restore parity. A penalty was awarded and Aguero‘s resulting kick from the spot ricocheted off the post but luckily for City, it rolled back into the net after hitting the excellent Nordfeldt’s trailing legs.

Guardiola had replaced Mahrez with Aguero in the 64th minute. The move paid off and the result was there for everyone to see. He had assisted Bernardo Silva to score City’s first. The Argentine international took the penalty which eventually ended up as an own goal by Nordfeldt.

10 minutes later, he sealed City’s victory with a brilliant header. Bernardo Silva had sent in a good cross which he brilliantly headed past Nordfeldt, crushing Swansea’s hopes of taking the game to extra time. However, his winner for City was also controversial. Replays showed that Aguero was marginally offside.

Aguero, during his 30-minute spell in the second half, spooked and eventually tore apart Swansea. He had five shots, three of those on target and played three key passes for City.

Conclusion

Had VAR been used, City’s two goals would have likely been denied; Aguero was marginally offside when he scored the winner, while the decision to hand City a penalty was questionable. Swansea were unlucky to lose this match to City, in a game where the home side played outstandingly. However, the way City clawed their way back into this game and won demonstrates the real champion mentality.

This victory ensures City still have chances to achieve the improbable quadruple. City are now the favourites to win the FA Cup this season. Although Liverpool sit at the top the Premier League table, City have a game in hand. Meanwhile, the tie against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League is winnable. But can City achieve the unprecedented? Only time will tell.


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Ali Shibil Roshan

Ali Shibil Roshan, 17, is a young aspiring football journalist from India. A keen learner and an avid follower of the beautiful game, Shibil likes to write about everything football.
Ali Shibil Roshan
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