Manchester City reaffirmed their title credentials and returned to top spot in the Premier League when they bested Swansea City on Saturday.
Not only did the Citizens pick up the maximum three points, they also demonstrated the kind of resolve and endeavour that they have too often been criticised for lacking.
For too long during the club’s recent golden era, they have been criticised for losing their way when they’ve been without several members of their celebrated spine: Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
Against the Swans, both Kompany and Aguero were missing, yet the latter’s replacement, Wilfried Bony, stepped up to find the net against his former club, heading home in the 26th minute after a corner from Jesus Navas.
However, without some of their leaders, the Sky Blues have some weaknesses, and they fell behind to manager-less Swansea when a long Federico Fernandez pass was met by substitute Bafetimbi Gomis, who lashed past Joe Hart after tearing into the box.
In previous years, shorn of Kompany and—notably—Aguero, City might have wilted, faded, and cursed the gods for being against them.
However, on Saturday, Manuel Pellegrini’s side demonstrated the mark of champions, and fought back almost instantly to retake the lead in stoppage time.
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Yaya struck the winner moments after Gomis’s equaliser, his fierce shot taking a wicked deflection off Nigerian wonderkid Kelechi Iheanacho, looping over Lukasz Fabianski and nestling into the far side of the net.
On another day, we might have been talking about brittle City with their soft underbelly, after their late comeback against the Swans, we’re discussing them as champions elect.