Swansea City v Manchester City - Premier League

Swansea 2-3 Manchester City: Goals galore keeps City rolling (video)

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Manchester City won back-to-back games away from home for the first time this season, as they downed a spirited Swansea side 3-2 at the Liberty Stadium to celebrate 2014’s arrival in style.

City took the lead through Fernandinho in the first half but on the stroke of the interval Wilfried Bony equalized for the Swans with a great header. After the break Manuel Pellegrini’s men flexed their attack-minded muscles superbly as Yaya Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov both scored in quick succession to make it 3-1, before Bony’s late strike made the match look closer than it was.

With the victory City momentarily went top of the league, as they have 44 points from their 20 games so far. As for Swansea, they remain in 11th and sit just five points above the relegation zone.

It was an even start at a rainy Liberty Stadium, as the visitors had the first effort at goal when Alvaro Negredo fed Edin Dzeko who swept his shot just wide of Swansea’s goal.

But the home side started well and an effort from Bony flew just wide of Joe Hart’s right-hand post after five minutes, as the lone striker got an early sight of goal. Soon after a setback hit the home side as Pablo Hernandez was forced off with a hamstring injury, he was replaced by Belgian international Roland Lamah after just 10 minutes.

Moments later Fernandinho opened the scoring as Samir Nasri’s corner was cleared only to the edge of the box, where City’s Brazilian midfielder was waiting to smash home a low drive to put his side 1-0 up. City threatened to double their lead on several occasions during the first half, as Jesus Navas and Nasri on both wings created plenty of problems for Swansea’s defense.

To their credit the Swans kept going as Jonjo Shelvey and Julian de Guzman both went close midway through the first half following patient build up play from the home side. But City always looked more dangerous as Dzeko’s effort on the half hour mark was deflected just wide by Chico Flores. At the other end Bony once again came close, as he struck almost a carbon copy of his first effort which flew just wide of Hart’s post.

But he wasn’t to be denied, as Ivorian striker Bony scored for the first time in seven games right on the interval, heading home from De Guzman’s delicious cross from the right to make it 1-1 at the break. Despite City looking comfortable for most of the match, it was Swansea who were in the ascendancy at the break.

Early on in the second half Negredo caused havoc in the box but the Spanish striker couldn’t finish after a defensive mix up at the back nearly put Swansea behind once again. Soon City raced away, with Toure bursting into the box after 55 minutes and hitting a shot that deflected off Ashely Williams and into the net to put City 2-1 ahead.

Less than 10 minutes later it was 3-1 as the Citizens’ fine goal-scoring record continued into 2014. Left back Kolarov picked up the ball on the left flank and drive down the line, before cutting inside and smashing home an effort with his right foot for his first PL goal in over a year.

City were rampant after that but Swansea looked dangerous on the odd occasion as Bony stung the palms of Hart with the Swans looking to pull a goal back and make it interesting. However that goal didn’t arrive until the 91st minute, when Bony grabbed his second of the match with a sensational drive from outside box to pull Swansea within one goal of City.

However, it proved to be too little, too late.


Swansea City: Tremmel, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Canas, de Guzman, Shelvey (Pozuelo, 81), Hernandez (Lamah 10), Routledge, Bony

Goals: Bony (45 &90)

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov, Navas (Rodwell, 90), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Nasri (Milner, 70), Negredo (Garcia, 60), Dzeko

Goals: Fernandinho (14), Toure (58), Kolarov (66)

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.