Alan Smith
Football Expert

Manchester City sorting away form in Premier League, says Alan Smith

Man City: on the charge with their big boys fit again

Manchester City are finally finding a winning formula on their travels, says Alan Smith, ahead of their Swansea trip on New Years Day.

Manuel Pellegrini's men have been brutal at the Etihad Stadium with maximum points from 10 games in the Premier League, but have suffered defeat four times already this season away from home.

"It'll be a packed house and Swansea can trouble City but you have to fancy the visitors if they take their chances"

Alan Smith

Despite this contrasting form, City trail leaders Arsenal by a single point and after a stunning Champions League victory at Bayern Munich and a hard-fought win at Fulham, December has proved evidence a corner may have been turned.

Smith, who will be co-commentating at the Liberty Stadium for Wednesday's lunch-time kick-off being shown live on Sky Sports, said: "I just can't see their poor away form continuing.

"It's been a bit of a mystery but the absence of Vincent Kompany hasn't helped. He's back now and they had a good win at Fulham despite a little scare. They are now showing signs of coming together as a team with most of the players back, although Sergio Aguero is still out.

"They've got so many options, shown by Edin Dzeko scoring the winner against Crystal Palace at the weekend. They will cure their away form, especially with Matija Nastasic and Kompany playing together. It's their best central defensive partnership.

"I just can't see their rotten form on their travels continuing and going to Swansea is a good place to make that statement."

Racking up just 11 points out of a maximum 27 on the road would suggest that City have been tinkering with their tactics, but Smith rejects this notion.

"They haven't been playing defensively with Pellegrini who's very attack minded," the former Arsenal striker added. "Pellegrini is very different to Roberto Mancini.

"It's just been individual mistakes and that's most unlike them and they've had these poor results. It's got in their heads that they've had this problem away from home and that has put doubts into them but there's no reason for this to carry on."

Edge

Swansea have endured a patchy couple of months, picking up three points in their last five league games, but they sit comfortably in 11th spot and Smith does not believe manager Michael Laudrup will be having too many sleepless nights.

"They've had some tough opponents but the main influence has been their Europa League commitments," he said. "It would be a drain on any club. Laudrup has extended his squad in anticipation of player rotation and there's the travelling and concentrating on extra matches.

"Maybe they have lost a bit of the edge they had last season, but they've actually played OK and should have beaten Aston Villa so there's not too much wrong. Michu hasn't been replicating what he did last season and he hasn't been getting the goals.

"There won't be any panic from Laudrup, though. He'll probably look back and feel unlucky. They're still very capable of playing some nice stuff and Jonjo Shelvey has been central to that. He's really stepped forward and been the linchpin in the middle of the park.

"He's scored some good goals, he's got a great shot and is a very good passer. There's not too much to be concerned about, although every manager wants consistency and Michael will be after that."

With only six points separating the top five in the top-flight, the pressure will be on City to continue the charge for top-spot at the start of 2014.

Smith added: "Given the results elsewhere with Arsenal and Chelsea winning, City are still in a great position and they'll go to South Wales to try to win the match. Why shouldn't they with the players available?

"It'll be a packed house and Swansea can trouble City but you have to fancy the visitors if they take their chances. They'll create one or two but it will be a great game.

"Swansea certainly don't try to shut up shop against anybody and certainly not at home. It should be a very entertaining match."