Aguero bails out average Man City
Man City hardly at their best but, as always, there's Aguero to their rescue
(Fernando Llorente 13)
MAN CITY 3
(Sergio Aguero 7, 65-pen, Raheem Sterling 77)
When all else appears to have failed for Manchester City, Sergio Aguero continues to offer them deliverance.
The Argentinian may not have been missed much, if at all, during a domestic three-game suspension that had seen Pep Guardiola's side plunder eight goals during that time.
His return to both action and form was again in danger of being taken for granted.
Within seven minutes at the Liberty Stadium, however, they were reminded of his unerring qualities en route to a 3-1 win over Swansea City on Saturday (Sept 24).
Aguero's goal-stalking tendencies have become such routine that it is widely greeted with relative indifference.
Indeed, Guardiola appeared more fixated on focusing more on the intelligence aspects of his game rather than the instinctive hallmarks.
Rifling home a 27th strike in as many outings with a close-range effort to open the scoring appeared to vindicate his manager's foreboding.
A second followed, somewhat fortuitously, from the penalty spot to take his tally to 11 goals in his previous six games.
Ring-rustiness appeared in patches, as he was snuffed out by Swansea's defence, but that ability to call on his mercurial qualities has remained a fail-safe which City can ill afford to be without in their bid to reclaim the English Premier League title this season.
He returned to their aid again with a comfortable conversion from 12 metres, which wrestled momentum back from their hosts in Wales and revived the side's swagger.
In spite of their record-breaking accolades and borderline superhuman qualities, there is still an Achilles' heel of mortality to this most well-oiled of footballing machines.
Guardiola's history boys may currently remain unstoppable, but they are hardly infallible.
City have, at times, resembled a high-speed train this season - pressing ahead at speed and refusing to stop for anyone in their path.
But Guardiola's immovable express were in genuine danger of hitting the buffers after just five games of the new campaign.
The cohesion which was previously heralded as their greatest strength proved to be their undoing, as they were nullified for the best part of an hour by Swansea's penchant for marrying counter-attacking football with stifling their opponents.
Opportunities proved somewhat limited and, when they did present themselves, the once usual suspects fluffed their lines.
Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, notably, spurned gilt-edged opportunities from which they had emphatically rendered Bournemouth to mere cannon fodder just seven days prior.
For all the strides made by the burgeoning attacking duo in Aguero's absence, they could not muster that sprinkling of brilliance when confronted with a more robust backline than they had become accustomed in recent weeks.
But it is more than goals where Aguero offers an added dimension to City's efforts.
When Sterling extended the advantage further, 13 minutes from time, it was another moment manufactured by Aguero, as the striker sprinted parallel with the England international in a counter-attack executed at breakneck speed.
If Leicester City were discovering on one side of Manchester that retaining their EPL crown is set to be anything other than a mere formality, their namesakes were also hit by a similar realisation, as the current champions in waiting, at the Liberty Stadium.
Guardiola's side remain the firm favourites to be regain their former crown this season, but this was a wake-up call.
As Swansea effectively demonstrated for large parts, the remaining eight months are unlikely to be a leisurely stroll across the length and breadth of the country.
Even blessed with the services of Aguero, they will not be allowed to have it entirely their own way; far from it, in fact.
"Sergio (Aguero) is quality. his first step, second step in the box is so good and that is why he is one of the best strikers in the world, but i want to help him improve his game."
— Man City manager Pep Guardiola, on his striker
'Pep thinks he's God'
Toure's City career looks to be over after agent takes another swipe at Guardiola
Four-time African Player of the Year Yaya Toure's chances of ever playing for Manchester City again diminished further yesterday morning (Singapore time), after his fiery agent launched another withering attack on club manager Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola had said earlier this week Toure would not play for the club until his agent Dimitri Seluk (picture above) apologised for accusing the Spaniard of "humiliating" the 33-year-old Ivorian midfielder after omitting him from the Champions League squad.
Rather than back down, Seluk - who is regarded as a father figure by Toure and by his elder brother, Celtic defender Kolo Toure - launched into Guardiola on the BBC's World Football Podcast.
"Pep Guardiola - he thinks about only himself. He thinks he is already God," said the Ukrainian.
"He won with Barcelona many titles, but Yaya also won the same titles with Barcelona (Toure was in fact sold in 2010 and Guardiola stayed till 2012 winning more silverware).
"Pep thinks now he has won everything and he can do what he wants."
Seluk, whose client roster includes largely eastern European or African players plying their trade in eastern Europe, said Guardiola had treated long-serving City players with total disrespect.
"For me, very strange things (have happened) at City because Yaya played with them many years, (Joe) Hart played with them many years, (Vincent) Kompany played many years, and (in) comes a new coach and says, 'Okay, these players out like dogs'," said Seluk.
Toure, who announced his retirement from international duty moments before Guardiola revealed he was out in the cold, has not figured in a single City match-day squad since Seluk made his initial remarks.
"The day after that, his agent spoke and in that moment, Yaya is out," Guardiola said on Tuesday.
"Unless Mr Dimitri Seluk comes back to the press or to his friends in the media - because he hasn't the courage to call me, he goes to the media - and apologises to Manchester City first of all, then his teammates and afterwards the trainer.
"When that happens, Yaya will be part of the group and he will have the chance to play."
Toure, who is in the final year of his contract at the Etihad Stadium, has featured just once for City since Guardiola's arrival.
He played the full 90 minutes of their Champions League play-off second-leg victory over Steaua Bucharest last month.
Toure's father, meanwhile, has urged Guardiola to "come back down to Earth" and give his son another chance, The Sun has reported.
"I'm worried about him. It's a problem," said Mory Toure.
"We ask Guardiola to come down to Earth. He's the boss. I ask him for forgiveness, to let my son do his work." - Wire Services.