Cole Palmer shines at the County Ground – Swindon Town 1-4 Manchester City Review
Updated: Jan 7
In a week clouded with a major Covid outbreak within the Manchester City squad, the Premier League leaders progressed into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup after breezing past Swindon Town 4-1.
Goals from Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and a special Cole Palmer strike were enough to see City secure their place in the fourth round draw of the Emirates FA Cup.
After the news about the virus outburst in City's first-team bubble in the week, the Premier League leaders were without both manager Pep Guardiola and assistant Juanma Lillo along with several members of the group.
Assistant coach Rodolfo Borrell managed the group this evening, and despite the COVID situation and the level of opposition, with all respect, fielded this strong starting eleven.
As we all expected, City started and kept the ball well and despite Swindon's pressing efforts created a good early chance through Silva. Playing left-back, Joao Cancelo skipped past his defender and zipped across a ball to his fellow Portuguese, but he could only strike over from close-range in a rather wasteful fashion.
Just nine minutes later, the 27-year-old got his goal – and what a goal it was. Academy graduate Cole Palmer and his silky skills proved too much for Joseph Odimayo after he flipped him inside out and squared the ball across goal for Silva to tap into an empty net – silencing a vocal local crowd.
27 minutes in, the Robins gifted City a second. Stuck between playing out from the back and launching long, Swindon keeper Lewis Ward played a poor ball into his defender who miscontrolled the ball. Jesus was alert and pickpocketed his opposition then played a one-two with Kevin De Bruyne and slotted across goal into the bottom right corner.
Just moments later City keeper Zack Steffen had a blunder of his own after he gave the ball away to a Swindon attacker but his attempted chipped failed to beat the American keeper and the Blues went into the break 2-0 up.
Attacking the end that the travelling City fans occupied, Borrell's side found a third through an Ilkay Gundogan free-kick 25 yards out. The German midfielder stepped up and whipped the ball low and around the wall into the bottom right-hand corner in sublime fashion.
Only two minutes later, the visitors should have had a fourth. Scorer of the second goal, Jesus, was brought down inside the area by Jordan Lyden and awarded a spot-kick. The Brazillian stepped up but even with his stuttered run-up couldn't beat Ward, who beat the ball away down to his right.
In spite of his excellent recent form, an error from Rodri in the 78th minute gave Swindon a possible avenue back into the game. The ball was played over the top when City's holding midfielder failed to control it and in doing so allowed for Jonathan Williams to play in Harry McKirdy, who blasted past Zack Steffen at the near post. Pandemonium in the home end.
Deserving of a goal, Palmer cancelled out that goal just moments after. He found himself with a shooting opportunity and took it with aplomb, striking onto the bar and into the back of the net past Ward's best efforts.
The next round of the Emirates FA Cup will be drawn on Sunday 9th January before Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal, live on ITV.
Steffen (5) Walker (6) Dias (5) Ake (6) Cancelo (7) Rodri (5) Gundogan (7) Silva (7) Jesus (6) De Bruyne (7) Palmer (8.5)
Substitutes: McAtee (7) Lavia (N/A) Mbete (N/A) Kayky (N/A)
Nobody will be getting carried away with this, not the players nor the management or fans but City got the job done. However, there were obvious positives.
James McAtee was given a good run-out from the 66th minute, Natan Ake continued his impressive form and Palmer was once again immense. It also creates good momentum going into a crucial clash against Chelsea next weekend in the Premier League with a lot of City's senior players match sharp.
Written by: @TomCayless_
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