The goals have come fast and furious for Manchester City at the Etihad of late. Yet all the talk continues to be about who is going to be stopping opponents for doing likewise.
Manuel Pellegrini will continue to navigate the tricky path of determining his No. 1 goalkeeper between Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon on Sunday, when City seek to maintain their sensational home form against Swansea City.
Though they enter this weekend with 22 points, good for fourth place ahead of Southampton on goal difference, Manchester City (7-1-4) are the runaway top goalscorers in the Premiership with 34. That is in large part due to a scoring binge at Etihad Stadium, where they have claimed the maximum 18 points in six matches on the strength of a whopping 26-2 aggregate scoreline.
City have hung four each on Newcastle and archrivals Manchester United, seven on Norwich City and most recently ravaged Tottenham Hotspur in a 6-0 whitewashing that was Spurs' heaviest defeat since 1996. Those goals have kept coming in their last two Champions League home matches as well, beating CSKA Moscow 5-2 earlier this month before easing by Viktoria Plzen 4-2 on Wednesday as they move into the knockout rounds for the first time in three attempts.
Still, Pellegrini has yet to settle on a starting goalkeeper as City seek their second Premier League title in three seasons. Hart was in goal on Wednesday, but the man vying for England's No. 1 goalkeeper also was let down at points by an uneven defence as nine of Plzen's 16 shots found their way on target.
"I think that Joe Hart played very well," Pellegrini insisted after Wednesday's win. "I didn't expect him to have to work so much because out of all of the games in all of the competitions, this is the match that the other team had the most chances to score."
A bonus for City will be the form of star player Sergio Aguero, who has 10 goals in the league this season and has netted seven of those over his last four contests.
Swansea City (4-3-5) had appeared to solve their offensive woes with five goals in their last two league matches, but manager Michael Laudrup saw his team take a step backwards with a 1-0 home loss in the Europa League to Valencia on Thursday. The Swans have only one win in their last seven matches across all competitions, and losing top players Wilfried Bony and Angel Rangel to injury could leave them dangerously thin versus a white-hot City team firing on all cylinders.
"Both are muscle injuries," Laudrup told the team's official website post match. "Hopefully Angel went off in time, so hopefully he's not so bad, but Bony could be quite a serious one."
If Bony is unable to play, Laudrup likely will turn to Alvaro as his replacement after the Spaniard made an impression on his manager.
City have recorded clean sheets in winning both their league meetings at the Etihad since Swansea were promoted for the 2011-12 seasons, and emerged with a 1-0 victory in the corresponding fixture last season thanks to Carlos Tevez's goal in the 61st minute.
The Swans, though, have three away wins in the league this season, trailing only front-running Arsenal, who have four.
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- Manchester City
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- Manuel Pellegrini
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