Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 10

The three top clubs, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea all drew and there is just 2 points between them. Wolves are back in the mix with  a terrific 2-1 win away to Arsenal and the Gunners have fallen to 14th.

Manchester City who have had a slow start to the campaign by their standards thumped Burnley 5-0 and they are now 10th. Manchester United also recorded a brilliant comeback against Southampton and are now in the top 8.

It was another exciting weekend of football where we witnessed 19 goals from 8 games, but did any of your players make the team of the week, let’s have a look.

Goalkeeper: Illan Meslier- Leeds United 7pts

Illan Mesier kept a clean sheet even though Everton had seven good shots on target as Leeds beat Everton away from home 1-0. It was a tough afternoon for the goalkeeper who had to keep 100% alert. It was Meslier’s 4th clean sheet of the season so far.

Defender: Kyle Walker- Manchester City 7pts

Manchester City romped home to a 5-0 win over Burnley and that means that on top of getting a great win Kyle Walker in defence kept his 3rd clean sheet of the season. Walker also assisted in the clubs 2nd goal to wrap up a brilliant match for him.

Defender: Benjamin Mendy- Manchester City 9pts

Benjamin Mendy was the stand out performer in defence for the 2019 champions, keeping a clean sheet as City thrashed Burnley 5-0 and scoring the clubs third goal effectively killing the game off at that point.

Defender: Robin Koch- Leeds United 5pts

Robin Koch put in a stellar performance at the back to give Leeds a rare away win and a good one as it was against Everton. Koch had to make some brilliant interventions and decisions during a tense victory for Leeds and kept a clean sheet in the process.

Defender: Thiago Silva- Chelsea 5pts

Thiago Silva played one of his most assured games for Chelsea in the back four since his move from PSG in the summer. His quality and experience held his defence line firm as Chelsea drew 0-0 against Tottenham the current league leaders.

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne- Manchester City 6pts

Kevin De Bruyne has had better seasons but when everything clicks he is still one of the best midfielders in the world. At the weekend it wasn’t about goals for De Bruyne but about assists and he set up 2 of Citys five goals.

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez- Manchester City 16pts

Riyad Mahrez always seems to do well against Burnley but he did exceptionally well at the weekend as City ran out 5-0 winners and Mahrez grabbed an incredible 16 fantasy points to boot. Mahrez scored a hat trick and now has four goals for this season overall.

Midfielder: James Ward-Prowse- Southampton 5pts

Though his team Southampton let a 2 goal lead slip against Manchester United to lose the game James Ward-Prowse had another eventual weekend. He assisted in the clubs first goal and scored the second, though he did some points as he was also booked during the match.

Midfielder: Daniel Podence- Wolves 4pts

And step up Daniel Podencenewcast who has really come to light for Wolves this season when they have neeed a goal. Podence scored what would turn out to be the winner as Wolves stunned Arsenal at the Emirates to win the game 2-1.

Striker: Edinson Cavani- Manchester United 10pts

Edinson Cavani had scored for Manchester United before of course but perhaps this was the weekend when the player truly arrived. Cavani scored 2 goals and also assisted in United’s opener as they came back from 2-0 down to beat Southampton 3-2.

Striker: Callum Wilson- Newcastle United 6pts

On Friday Callum Wilson was the hero for Newcastle as they pulled off an excellent away win beating Crystal Palace 2-0. Wilson assisted in one goal and scored the other and the striker now has seven goals overall.

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Is it the end of the line for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City?

Are Manchester City in decline? Not exactly but there is a sense that the club need to hit that F5 button and refresh and that could mean waving good bye to Pep Guardiola.

Two significant things happened in the summer that seem to have led to the Manchester City that we have now. One was influential midfielder David Silva leaving the club for Real Sociedad. Silva had been with City for 10 years and it seemed that him leaving was a natural step to take in his career. But the gap hasn’t been filled by Silva’s invaluable experience and in some games this season it has looked telling.

The other is that one senses City still have a hangover from their Champions League exit last season. Now had they exited the competition in a normal year this would have taken place back in April. This being the year of the pandemic the quarter finals were played of course only in August. And after knocking out Real Madrid in the previous round it seemed inevitable that City would overcome Lyon to reach the semi-finals. But while the game was very close Lyon did a number on City and Guardiola was outnumbered and out manoeuvred but a Ligue 1 side who failed to even qualify for Europe for this season.

That Lyon loss just seems to have got under the skin of Guardiola, it is just one game, but a defeat in that manner in the Champions League feels like a bug that just cannot be shaken.

Let’s make no mistake Guardiola was brought into City to win the Champions League and countless trophies. But City do not look like a side who are going to win this league in this. Pep’s 5th season. If they don’t then he has won 2 league titles from five. This is a fantastic return for most clubs, but the bar is so high with what Guardiola demands and the money spent on the club in that time period so much that actually a 40% winning return doesn’t seem that impressive in league titles.

To suggest that Guardiola has failed at City if he ends this season without silverware feels like a step too far. One must remember that under Guardiola Manchester City have won 8 trophies, however five of those have been split between the League cup and Community shield. His best season was in 2018/19 when he completed the magical domestic treble of winning the league title, FA Cup and League Cup. That season was also memorable for how City fended off a relentless challenge from Liverpool.

Under Guardiola City have recorded records and played some of the greatest football England has seen. He has created so much in such little time albeit with deep pockets but at the same time you still have to know the right players who are going to come into the side and get the job done.

Guardiola has loved to open the cheque book too and some of his signings have been real gems for the side like Benjamin Mendy, Ederson the goal keeper and Barnardo Silva have done good jobs. But can one say that Riyad Mahrez has shone consistently since his arrival from Leicester? Rodri is a good player but one would expect more of the club record signing.

There has been a tendency at City and it can work for a club with such a budget to, in theory, throw money at the problem but that doesn’t always work, and perhaps we are seeing that this season.

Who could have thought that a team managed by Guardiola would be in 13th place after 8 games. True one could say it is early in the season but over 25% of the season has been played. Also the way Liverpool have rose the bar means that they won’t be dropping many points this season. And unlike last season City have two more rivals that have emerged in Tottenham and Chelsea. When one can think that winning the title for City is beyond them, one could even stretch that idea and wonder if they will finish in a top 4 position?

Presently City do have a game in hand but that would only take the club up to 8th and they would be 5 points behind the leaders. Now that isn’t a big gap and of course there is time to catch up but the problem for City as aforementioned is the new threat of Tottenham and Chelsea together with Liverpool.

At the moment there shouldn’t be alarm bells just yet for City but if they can’t make in roads up the table and put pressure on the top 2 by the Christmas period this could end up being a long hard season for such a fluent and brilliant side.

So failure for Guardiola at City seems to be over-hyping what is happening at the club but whisper it when you consider the money spent, the value of the team estimated to be at £1 billion and the quality one normally associates with Guardiola, his time at City may just be looked at as the manager who under achieved with what he had.

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Was Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva really being racist towards Benjamin Mendy?

It started with a laugh, banter between two friends, ended up with a tweet and then finished up with Kick it Out getting involved and reporting Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva for a racist tweet.

A few days ago Silva tweeted a photo of team mate Mendy as a baby next to a Spanish chocolate logo of what looks like a black child, and made a comparison joke about it. Uproar soon followed and the FA got on the case and now inevitably Kick it Out are asking the FA to punish Silva.

Let’s first study the facts; Silva and Mendy are very close friends off the field and get on very well. Mendy responded to Silva’s tweet with laughter, so certainly Mendy isn’t taking it seriously and can see the joke. The problem is that what you do on the internet is always seen differently, out of context if you like, and it does look like on first impact that Silva’s tweet makes him out to be a racist. Once we understand a friendly personal relationship that in fairness we know nothing about since it’s private then we would understand more about Silva and Mendy’s friendship and how they work off of one another.

At the same time Silva brutally opened those doors to a public, and really he should have known better, and should have thought about it sharing something that is obviously very sensitive to an unsuspecting eye, not involved in any way shape or form in that friendship, and will never be.

The problem for Silva is that he has allegedly done this before, and to the same player. When Mendy was wearing a black t shirt he said why did you turn up naked? It’s very possible that again the two of them laughed it off, but guess what, the joke was very much on Mendy. Does Mendy give it back? At this point in time we have no idea.

Silva could be facing up to a 6 game ban which would make his manager Pep Guardiola absolutely livid, if nothing else and even if Silva is not a racist, why not share what could be very sensitive in a personal email or message to Mendy rather than to his 603,000 followers?

There is no historical evidence that Silva is a racist, and he seems very much like a good person within football. However that doesn’t dispel what he did and what he did was an act of ignorance which could be deemed racist. It is important to note that one can say or do a racist thing without having hate towards a certain race and it does seem this is what Silva has done, it certainly wasn’t correct to compare a logo to a black player, even if the two of them found it funny.

Bans or fines make no sense and whilst Kick it Out needs to bring Silva’s actions to attentions their suggestions seem draconian and fruitless. Rather spending some time with minorities a few educational classes would be the better way to go here, and again no one is suggesting Silva is a racist, but it was a joke in poor taste.

Kick it Out and the FA were absolutely right to not let this just lie and forget about it. The Italian FA and UEFA do a good enough job of that, and look at what has happened there. Racism in any walks of life needs to be attached with a zero tolerance attitude even in Silva’s case when it clearly was edgy banter between two good friends.

Once these tweets are left to slip, others are too and that disease called racism will then grow and grow as our tolerance becomes more accepted to the fact. Give Silva some educational tips but don’t condemn him to the sidelines or empty his bank account just yet.

 

 

Pep Guardiola must give Benjamin Mendy another chance to prove himself

At the time, Manchester City’s signing of Benjamin Mendy was seen as a major upgrade. Pep Guardiola had suffered a tough first season in the Premier League and the full back areas were prime for strengthening. Mendy was seen as the left Guardiola needed.

The Frenchman had, after all, impressed as Monaco made a run to the semi finals of the Champions League. And yet a serious injury in his first season in England derailed Mendy’s Man City career before it could even get up and running properly. Almost two years has passed since then and Mendy still hasn’t found his feet at the Etihad Stadium.

Injuries have been a problem, but there were suggestions towards the end of last season that Guardiola holds concerns over Mendy’s commitment. The French full back was pictured in a nightclub in Manchester and this coincided with a period of exile from the first team. Guardiola insisted it didn’t bother him, but in a way that hinted he wasn’t being entirely candid.

“If Benjamin is fit, he will have success,” Guardiola said in a recent interview when asked to provide an update on Mendy’s injury. “He has a special quality. I am happy [with him] but I don’t want to say too much. But I am satisfied because it has been two weeks and his recovery after training has been good. He doesn’t feel any pain and that is good.

“These kinds of traumatic injuries are a bit unlucky. One after another. He couldn’t take the rhythm for a season for even half season or a long time. That is a concern but he’s now training good. The people from Barcelona are telling me that he is working incredible like an animal and hopefully he can maintain that because it is not about one day or one week it is about every day doing that.”

If Mendy is indeed on the road to recovery Guardiola should give him another chance. Man City are close to being the complete team, but they have a weakness at left back. Oleksandr Zinchenko has made great progress over the past two seasons, but he remains unpolished. City can do better.

A fully fit and firing Mendy would be better. There’s a reason Man City paid £52 million for the Frenchman in the first place and if Guardiola can unlock the potential of that player then he would address the one weakness his team has.

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Sticking with Benjamin Mendy could see Man City stagnate

Manchester City missed Benjamin Mendy last season. With the Frenchman suffering a season-ending injury early on in City’s 100-point Premier League campaign, Pep Guardiola’s side were given a weakness. Fabian Delph did an admirable job at left back, but he is, by trade, a midfielder. He was the kink in Man City’s armour, even as they strolled to the title.

Mendy has struggled with injury for a second successive season, but even when he has been fully fit, Guardiola has overlooked the Frenchman. There have been questions over Mendy’s commitment, with the left back once filmed in a nightclub just two days before a City game. Guardiola shrugs those suggestions aside, but he hasn’t always been one for masking his true emotions.

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Subsequent reports that City should look to sign a new left back this summer were therefore unsurprising. A player under Guardiola is nothing if he doesn’t have the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach’s trust and it appears Mendy, for one reason or another, has lost that.

Ben Chilwell appeared to be City’s number target to fill the troublesome left back spot, with the Leicester City full back doing enough to impress Guardiola this season. Those reports have dried up in recent weeks, though, with City now seemingly content with Oleksandr Zinchenko as their first choice left back.

Zinchenko has undoubtedly impressed at Man City. There is much to be admired about the way the Ukrainian, initially signed to be loaned out and then ultimately sold, has forced his way into the fold at the Etihad Stadium, earning Guardiola’s trust in a way Mendy has yet to. But is he really good enough to take City to the next level?

Mendy has the ability to be the player Guardiola needs at left back, but if his mindset is not right he must be moved on. A replacement must be signed this summer just like a replacement, Ederson, was quickly signed for Claudio Bravo when it became clear that the Chilean wouldn’t satisfy Guardiola.

It’s this ruthless drive that has kept Man City at the top of the English game. They cannot afford to get complacent, particularly with Liverpool improving year-on-year. Mendy should have been a central part of Guardiola’s team, but he isn’t. City must find someone to replace him rather than just make do with an inferior deputy.

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Manchester City: Planning already well underway for next season

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Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League after Pep Guardiola’s side dominated possession against Bournemouth in a 1-0 victory on Saturday while Liverpool failed to beat Everton in the Merseyside Derby on Sunday afternoon.

The table makes good reading for City fans with the club now one point ahead of their title challengers, Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who have spent most of the campaign top while the Citizens have an easier run in compared to their counterparts. Continue reading

EPL Best XI – Mesut Ozil stars

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Manchester City and Liverpool have 23 points after nine games of the 2018-19 Premier League season, while Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham trail them by just two points following another incident-filled weekend in England’s top flight. Let’s take a look at which players made our Best XI from the last three days…

GK: Jordan Pickford, Everton – seven points
Jordan Pickford has recovered from a slow start to the season to pick up 14 points in two of his last three games. He earned another seven in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace – a match in which he also saved a penalty.

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Mendy playing dangerous game as Guardiola makes his point

After Manchester City’s 6-1 thrashing of Huddersfield Town in August, it was not an exaggeration to say that Benjamin Mendy had been the Premier League champions’ most significant player in their first two games of the new season. Having provided both assists in the 2-0 defeat of Arsenal on the opening weekend, the France international was his team’s key attacking player in their demolition of David Wagner’s charges, in effect creating three of City’s six goals even if he was only officially credited with one assist.

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Etihad Stadium’s Expansion: Worth it or Futile?

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etihad_stadium09English giants Manchester City have gone from strength to strength since 2008 when the club was acquired by billionaire Sheikh Mansoor with the constant struggle in the initial years’ largely forgotten by the supporters. The same opponents who deemed the prospect of acquiring 3 points against the Citizens as nothing short of a cakewalk earlier now shiver in fear at the prospect of battling it out against Pep Guardiola’s outfit.

This has been largely possible due to the finances pumped in at regular intervals by the owners who have ensured a regular flow of finances through thick and thin. At the same time, there have been astute investments at play as well especially in the transfer market. Manchester City opted to invest in quality acquisitions like Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany during a stage when clubs were increasingly orthodox when it came to pulling off transfer deals with the benefits increasingly evident currently.

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Ederson- Effective Addition at Optimum Price?

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man-city-makes-brazil-s-ederson-moraes-the-world-s-most-expensive-goalkeeper2-1496931016The Blue half of Manchester prided itself on the fact that managers from different parts of the world with different outlooks tactically and philosophically had always enjoyed their unanimous support through thick and thin.

However, that had certainly changed with newly appointed manager Pep Guardiola’s decision to ship out club legend Joe Hart who had earned the love and affection of the fans with consistent and passionate performances over the years. The same elation which had greeted the Spanish manager’s arrival from Bayern Munich could no longer be felt with a sense of fury in the hearts of the supporters who found the arrival of ex-  Barcelona goalie Claudio Bravo as replacement quite unbearable in nature.

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