Just as Manchester City regained control over Liverpool in the race for the Premier League title, international football kicked in. Let’s face it, we all love it at such a vital stage in the season. A total of 13 players from Pep Guardiola’s first team have been called up to their respective nations with Euro 2016 qualifiers, friendlies, Africa Cup of National qualifiers and U21 in full swing. Continue reading
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
English 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.
The sixth weekend of the Premier League season saw Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea maintain their unbeaten starts to the campaign, while Burnley picked up their first three points of 2018-19 with a 4-0 win over Bournemouth. Let’s take a look at which players made our Best XI of the Weekend.
GK: Petr Cech, Arsenal – seven points
With eight teams keeping clean sheets this weekend, EPL Fantasy managers picked up plenty of points from goalkeepers and defenders. Petr Cech was key in the first half of Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Everton, earning himself seven points.
While Manchester City clinched the league title last weekend, Juventus have the chance to all but secure the Scudetto against second placed Napoli in Italy.
Watch this weekend’s fantasy preview. Continue reading
Man City were finally crowned Premier League champions this past weekend, ending what feels like months of inevitability as Pep Guardiola’s men took the most coveted prize in English football. What was strange, though, was that it ironically wasn’t City’s own heroics that directly secured the title, but the workrate of the Premier League’s basement club somewhere else in the city.
News broke earlier today that Leroy Sane will miss around six or seven weeks of action after suffering ankle ligament damage during Man City’s FA Cup Fourth Round win at Cardiff at the weekend.
While Sane is clearly a gifted and influential player, and despite how obviously unfortunate this news is, the fact is that City will hardly miss a beat without the 22-year-old.
Now, that statement may seem harsh – Sane has a wonderful mix of youth and passion for the sport, and is visibly enjoying life at the Etihad. His contribution so far this season must also not be overlooked – he is an important part of Pep Guardiola’s plans. Continue reading
It was an afternoon for the attacking players on Sunday, when Liverpool took to the battle field to duke it out with unbeaten league leaders Man City at Anfield. Continue reading
Despite playing down talk of a mid-season transfer spree with Liverpool, new manager Jurgen Klopp will have a host of targets in mind to strengthen the playing squad. The Reds have real potential in certain areas, but are lacking quality in the midfield which could be why they continue to fall short in the Premier League.
It’s common to see a new manager bring at least one of their former players when joining a new club, and it’s taken little time for rumours to arise about Klopp selecting standout stars from ex-club Borussia Dortmund in an attempt to put his early stamp on the Merseysiders. He’s expected to be given lucrative funds to lure players in, so next summer could see a wholesale changes.
But while BVB duo Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are being viewed as the solution to the Reds’ attacking woes, the real deficiency is in the middle of the park – something Klopp could rectify with Dortmund‘s Ilkay Gundogan, a player who has been on the radar of Liverpool’s for some time. His influence in the Dortmund side has been telling, and he could have a really positive influence in the Liverpool midfield if he can be convinced to make the switch.
The German international, 24, has transformed into one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga during his three years at the Westfalenstadion. A creative and composed box-to-box talent, Gundogan was perfectly engrained in Klopp’s high-pressing and fast counter-attacking philosophy at Dortmund, and he’ll want real aficionados of the style to help the existing Liverpool players.
Gundogan is highly industrious, and operates at the heart of the midfield. He could eventually be playing alongside the likes of Jordan Henderson and Emre Can in the future, and such a trio in the Liverpools midfield would look a lot more menacing to their opposition. Under Klopp, Gundogan showcased a good eye for goal, and an even better eye for a pass, so he’d surely take little time to adapt in England.
The 24-year-old’s attributes aren’t just limited to his proficiency going forward, however, with the former Nurnberg man providing adequate protection in the middle of the park, averaging a tackle or interception every 24 minutes. He shares a lot of similarities to Jordan Henderson in terms of his playing style, but the speed of his play and tactical awareness are unparalleled.
Klopp is sure to enquire about his services when the January transfer window nears, or at the end of his first season, as Gundogan is a player who could really turn Liverpool’s fortunes around.
Manchester United-target Ilkay Gundogan commits future to Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has ended speculation about his future by signing a new deal with the German Bundesliga side this summer. The 24-year-old was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United ahead of the new season, but recently revealed his delight to be staying on at the Westfalenstadion, and plans to replicate past success in a Dortmund shirt.
“The first days of pre-season are over and it’s been fun to work with the coaches and my team-mates. I’m happy that we finally have clarity and I can continue playing football for Borussia Dortmund. I’ll turn my focus immediately to preparation – in August we want to attack fully again,” he said to the club’s official website.
Gundogan was being courted by Manchester United for the last 12 months, with manager Louis van Gaal looking to bolster his midfield with stellar European talent. The Dortmund man is highly-rated, and played a key role in the side that won the 2011/12 Bundesliga title and DFB-Pokal. He’s industrious, comfortable on the ball, and has a good eye for a pass too.
Manchester United paid the most interest in his signature, but the midfielder wasn’t without his suitors. Under former manager Jurgen Klopp Gundogan was regarded among the best of his kind, but his stock somewhat diminished last season with Dortmund struggling for long periods in the Bundesliga. He’s had problems with injuries too, missing virtually the entire 2013/14 season, so United knew they weren’t getting the player of the past.
Nevertheless, he’s shown glimpses of real quality, and the German side were very keen to keep him as a result. BVB have continued to see their best players stolen every summer due to the financial muscle of Europe’s heavyweights, so for Gundogan to extend his deal at the Westfalenstadion could be decisive in getting the club back to the upper reaches of the table.
The side’s sporting director Michael Zorc said: “We’re pleased that Ilkay will continue to play for Borussia Dortmund. I’m confident that he will play his part so that we can reach our sporting goals.” It shows how his decision to stay affects the whole team on and off the pitch.
Dortmund have lost so many key players over the years, but the solidarity Gundogan has shown could ensure fellow existing talents follow him in extending their stay too. Manchester United will now have to look at other potential targets, with Bayern Munich Bastian Schweinsteiger reportedly weighing up a move to Old Trafford this summer.