City’s final away assignment of the season is at the Liberty Stadium against in-form Swansea.
Garry Monk’s side have lost four of their last five against the Blues but they have won their last three in all competitions.
In our latest installment of Talking Points, we analyse what’s at stake in South Wales on Sunday afternoon and look at some of the potential storylines which could unfold…
In our own hands…
In a week which has seen City celebrate three and four year anniversaries for their FA Cup and Premier League wins of 2011 and 2012 respectively, it’s been a good time to take stock of progress made over the past few seasons.
Arsenal’s defeat against Swansea on Monday night means that City’s hopes of finishing as runners-up to Chelsea are now in their own hands.
While the difference between finishing second and third is mostly cosmetic, it does feel a lot better if we can say we’ve finished in the top two of the Premier League for the past four seasons.
The race for second will go to the final day of the season whatever happens on Sunday but City will tie up a top three finish, and avoid a Champions League play-off, with a win over the Welsh outfit.
Swansea's European ambitions…
Europa League qualification is still a possibility for Sunday’s hosts if they can perform well in their final two games against City and Crystal Palace.
The visit of last season’s champions is the final game at the Liberty Stadium in 2014/15 and Monk will be eager to extend their run of victories in front of an expectant crowd.
In their last three, the Swans have overcome Newcastle, Stoke and Arsenal, leaving them in eighth place, just behind Southampton and Spurs who have struggled for form in recent weeks.
Youth versus experience…
Much has been written on the subject of City’s squad age over the course of this campaign.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville pointed out that the average age of Manuel Pellegrini’s side is higher than the rest of the Premier League in September and could hold them back in pursuit of UEFA Champions League progress.
These notions were subsequently echoed by Jamie Carragher and Jose Mourinho but watching Juventus upset Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final last night with six players over the 30 mark opens up the debate on experience versus youth.
The average age of the Juventus line-up which performed heroically at the Bernabeu last night was 29.5, while the average age of the City XI which took on Barcelona in the second leg of our last Champions League clash was 29.4.
A few pairs of younger legs being promoted or arriving at the Etihad Stadium in the summer would surely do no harm but age is but a number and using it as a utilitarian metric for judging a side’s ability perhaps oversimplifies a more complex debate.
Magic Lamp’s return…
Frank Lampard played nine times for Swansea City in the 1995/96 season while on loan from West Ham but he returns to a very different club to the one he left.
In his 2006 autobiography, Frank admits that he didn’t exactly enjoy his spell at the Vetch Field, reflecting: “Swansea's training ground was a bit grotty and I was shocked at the lack of facilities, never mind the difference in the way they played. We won about two games and there were only a couple of thousand fans there watching us struggle to avoid relegation."
Fast forward on a decade and Lampard is a lot more complimentary: “They’ll be confident, they’ll play good football and this is their last home game of the season so off the back of a very good season, they don’t have much to lose,” he told mcfc.co.uk.
“Monk is a young manager and former player so a few people tipped them to struggle this year but if anything, they’ve kicked on again.”
Kun chases another personal record…
Sergio Aguero is arguably the league’s form player over the last two months with records seeming to fall every time he takes to the field at the moment.
Kun’s scored in each of his last five Premier League games, scoring eight in total but he’s never notched in six successive games.
Will he do it for the first time to all but secure the Golden Boot award?