Manchester City aren't about to apologise for the lack of style points after grinding out their last victory. Now they'll look to keep the pressure on front-running Arsenal on New Year's Day when they travel to Wales to face a Swansea City outfit looking for consistency to start the second half of the season.
The Citizens (13-2-4) maintained their spotless record at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace - the first time they failed to score at least two goals in a home match this season. Still, manager Manuel Pellegrini's side improved to 10-0-0 at home, and the Chilean seemed unfazed about the scoreline given the team expended significant effort to down Liverpool 2-1 less than 48 hours prior.
"No, I don't think we were fortunate to win," Pellegrini told the team's official website. "One team wanted to pay for the 90 minutes, the other wanted to sit in front of their own goal. They were both very different games but we were absolutely sure that we weren't going to have an easy game today - it's very difficult to play against a team who doesn't want to play."
Edin Dzeko netted the match-winner in the 66th minute as Man City continues to find offence despite the absence of top scorer Sergio Aguero while they lurk one point behind the Gunners. It was only the fourth goal in league play for the Bosnian, who has 10 goals in 21 matches across all competitions.
"Maybe eight games ago, nobody believed that we could make up the six points on Arsenal," Pellegrini said. We must continue in this way - this is just the first half of the season.
"The second half will be just the same, with five or six teams challenging for the title."
Swansea City (5-6-8) do not appear to be one of those teams in the mix for the crown as they begin the second half on 21 points and in 11th place, ahead of Stoke City on goal differential. While the Swans have progressed to the knockout round in Europa League, they have yet to gain traction in domestic league play and enter this match winless in their last five with three draws and two defeats.
One of those draws came Saturday at Aston Villa, where Roland Lamah's goal in the 36th minute cancelled out an earlier strike by Gabriel Agbonlahor. Swansea haven't held the lead in four of their five matches during this winless spell, but the hope is returning to Liberty Stadium - where they've potted 16 of their 24 goals in league play - will change their fortunes.
"In the next game we will play the same way and if we can play like we did today then more often than not we will win," winger Pablo Hernandez told the team's official website. "It's going to be a difficult game. One month ago we played them and we lost, but we played a good game.
"They are a great team, with big players, but at home we can beat anyone in the Premier League."
Man City turned on the class in the reverse fixture on Dec. 1, rolling to a 3-0 victory on a second-half brace from Samir Nasri after Alvaro Negredo staked them to an early lead in the eighth minute. Swansea's lone win in the five matches between the teams since being promoted for the 2011-12 season was a 1-0 victory on March 11, 2012.
The teams played to a 0-0 draw in the corresponding fixture last season.