Manchester City say goodbye to their player of the decade

The 5-0 victory over Norwich City was the last match in the Premier League for David Silva, who is leaving The Etihad after 10 years in the sky blue jersey.

The Spaniard has played a staggering 434 matches for Manchester City in all competitions, more than any other in the club’s history, recording 77 goals and 122 assists and managed to win 14 trophies: four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, five League Cups and three FA Community Shields.

With 309 appearances in the last 10 seasons in the Premier League he has the second most behind the goalkeeper of their Manchester rivals, David de Gea, who has played four.

Over the past 10 years, many great players have passed through the squads of Pep Guardiola, Manuel Pellegrini, Brian Kidd and Roberto Mancini, but no one has been more consistent and impactful as David Silva. The Citizens fans could always count on Silva to make an impact when it mattered.

“Of course I am very proud,” he told the club website. “To win so many titles and the way we won it. I am a lucky guy. I have had a lot of nice moments, and this one as well, the last one. I will miss everything – even the weather as well. I’m going to miss working every day with these amazing people. They have made my life much easier. It was emotional and I love all of them.”

Before the final farewell with City, Silva has the chance to challenge for the Champions League trophy, the only one that is missing in his glittering career. City play Real Madrid on at the Etihad in the second-leg of the last 16 clash, after they won 2-1 on at the Santiago Bernabeu in February.

“I hope we can win it,” he continued. “It’s a shame that we can’t play with the fans here, but of course, the safety of the people is the most important thing.”

The English fairytale for Silva began with the transfer from Valencia in 2010 when he signed a four-year contract with City, but stayed much longer. After a decade at the club, the 34 year old will possibly return to Valencia and has been linked with a move to Villarreal in La Liga. Also, Al Sadd’s in Qatar, where his fellow countrymen Xavi and Santi Cazorla already play, is also thought to be an option.

Play the newest EPL Fantasy game here https://epl-fantasy.com.

Fan Zone: Kartik on City’s Sterling, Bernardo & David Silva as well as Fernandinho & more

A special guest for the latest Q&A is Kartik Krishnaiyer- heavily involved in soccer and politics in the state of Florida- and the author of Blue with Envy: My American Journey with Manchester City.

Instead of starting with how it all began for Kartik, the focus in this part of the Q&A is mostly on current Manchester City topics, in particular the key players. We discuss current stars such as David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero as well as some of the club’s key figures in the past such as Vincent Kompany, the former captain who left last summer, and of course Francis Henry Lee.

Kartik’s wealth and depth in information when it comes to discussing the Citizens is even more evident when you cover not just the club’s current era but the history of Man City. You can reach Kartik and Rami Soufi on their social media accounts and feel free to discuss further any of the points raised in the Q&A below.

1)  Choose 2 players from David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez for your team. Explain why?

I am going with Sterling and Bernardo Silva though at one point it would have been Sterling and David Silva. Sterling’s off-the-ball runs are among the best in world football, something England fans and many in the British press didn’t quite understand in the World Cup in 2018.

Sterling didn’t score so they couldn’t understand why Gareth Southgate kept picking him then came the Colombia game. Sterling was replaced by Jamie Vardy and that absolutely gutted England’s play going forward. It was then that people started to notice Sterling’s role and significance. Bernardo Silva has a different game than peak David Silva did. Bernardo has more bite to his play without the ball but he is not as creative a player in the final third. They aren’t like for like, but both complement Sterling very well.

2) Choose one from Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho, and explain why?

Fernandinho is the heart and soul of Manchester City. An outstanding two-way player, he’s a master of keeping the ball moving, winning the ball and if needed cynically breaking up play. Also, he is a leader on and off the pitch.

3) Who is in your opinion the best player to ever wear the City shirt, and why?

So this is a difficult conversation because it’s probably Franny Lee – who also later as Club Chairman presided over the worst era in the club’s history largely due to his decision making. Don’t get me wrong he inherited a really bad situation from Peter Swales but he had no idea how to fix it. The most lamentable era in City’s history coincided with his tenure.

Still, as a player he was brilliant. A forward who could score and link play and seemed to reserve his best for the biggest occasions – cup finals, Manchester derbies and other key matches. His partnership with Colin Bell was off the charts.

4) What are City’s weaknesses? Is it the full-backs or the central defensive pair looking shaky? Did losing Kompany hurt City’s title defense?

It is the central defense for sure. Losing Kompany has taken away an important dressing room figure and deprived the Starting XI of the glue that keeps together the team’s core defensively. This has continued to be an issue with City’s transfer failures in the center-back position go back to selling Matija Nastasic to Schalke and buying Eliaquim  Mangala as a replacement. The miscalculations in the market have finally caught up with City.

5) I know you follow Bundesliga closely so you’ve seen Erling Haaland & Achraf Hakimi play. Would you rather sign Haaland or Hakimi? 

Hakimi fits Pep Guardiola’s style of an advanced fullback working a lot in terms of crossing and tucking into midfield. Cancelo was a bad experiment and will likely be moved. Hakimi can be explosive going forward, but I am not in love with his defending.

6) City built a reputation playing the possession game. Do you think this focus on possession at the expense of being more pragmatic has hurt City’s quest to defend the Premier League title?

Yes, and even hurt City’s chances in Europe to be honest even more since counter-attacking wins trophies, particularly in critical and tight games. Frankly, same thing happened to Pep at Bayern Munich. His Bayern teams kept the ball all day long but whenever faced with the counter-attacking ability of the Spanish opponents they played in the semi-finals, the Spanish clubs tended to counter them to death.

7) What do you make of Gabriel Jesus? His stats are great despite being mostly used as a substitute. Would you keep Jesus or go for someone like Harry Kane?

Jesus is a better all-around No. 9 for the modern game than almost anyone we could sign. It’s the stuff he does off the ball and his ability to adapt tactically (as seen in Madrid) that make him suitable for Pep.

Sergio Aguero scores a ton of goals and he’s tough to drop but I would argue Jesus is a better overall footballer at this stage of their careers. At the same time Kane is a wonderful player who doesn’t have to be a No. 9. He can play deeper and already understands Sterling’s game from England duty where the two of them lead the line.

Will January additions ease Man City’s defensive crisis?

As soon as Aymeric Laporte hobbled off injured during Manchester City’s 4-0 home win over Brighton in late August projections were made over how it would affect the defending Premier League champions. Amid all the doom and gloom, nobody expected that Laporte’s absence would be so costly.

Only eight games of the 2019/20 Premier League season have been played, but Liverpool already hold an eight point lead over Pep Guardiola’s side. City have suffered collapses against Norwich City and Wolves with their defence especially vulnerable following the injury to John Stones.

Guardiola has so far failed to find a suitable solution to ease Man City’s problems at the back. The Catalan has used Fernandinho as a centre back in Laporte and Stones’ absence. This is designed to keep the link between City’s defence and midfield intact, with the Brazilian key to bringing the ball out from the back.

However, Fernandinho isn’t a defender and that has been obvious in the games he has played at centre back. And so talk has started over who City could target in the January transfer window. The Etihad Stadium outfit might spend their way out of trouble.

Ruben Dias has most recently been linked with a move to the Premier League champions. This isn’t the first time that the Benfica defender has been linked with a move to England, with Manchester United also reported to be interested in the Portuguese international. He would be a shrewd addition for either team.

Guardiola does have a centre back that he has only used off the bench during this injury crisis. Eric Garcia is highly rated as a young defender, but the Man City boss has so far been overlooked in favour of square pegs in round holes. Another expensive signing like Dias would only underline how Guardiola hasn’t yet held up his end of the bargain as an advocate of youth.

However, it’s true that City needed a new centre back before the injuries to Laporte and Stones even hit. Vincent Kompany left them short of options in defence, leaving the Etihad Stadium for Anderlecht. Nicolas Otamendi isn’t a player Man City can depend on, as has been demonstrated over the past few weeks. Rather than fixing new problems, the signing of someone like Dias would patch things up that date back to the summer.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Why isn’t Joao Cancelo being used to ease Man City’s defensive woes?

The only thing that seemingly stood a chance of halting Manchester City was their own mortality and so it has proved. Indeed, the defending Premier League champions, who have collected 198 points over the past two seasons, have wobbled following the injury suffered by Aymeric Laporte, with John Stones also ruled out for the foreseeable future.

City have looked vulnerable at the back without Laporte and with Stones also out Pep Guardiola has had to get creative, with Fernandinho drafted into the centre back position alongside Nicolas Otamendi for the game against Watford last weekend, a game which saw the Premier League champions go close to a record-breaking win.

Guardiola possesses a great tactical mind and so it’s somewhat surprising that he hasn’t yet resorted to a different shape or formation to mask his team’s shortcomings at the back. City have used a back three on occasion under the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, so why hasn’t he gone down this route in light of recent injuries?

He has the players to switch to a back three. The signing of Joao Cancelo from Juventus during the summer means Guardiola could now use the Portuguese international as a wing back on the right side with Kyle Walker on the right side of a back three. That would surely close up some of the gaps that have appeared in the City backline in recent games.

Guardiola clearly has faith in Walker. “When Kyle is stable in the mind, he knows exactly what he has to do and always performs well. Be stable here,” the City boss said when asked why Walker wasn’t called up to the last England squad. “Be consistent, be seven or eight (out of 10) all the time – that is what we have to work on with him. He is incredibly strong and he will be back.”

In Cancelo, Man City boast one of the best full backs in the European game right now. It’s becoming a little peculiar that Guardiola isn’t turning to him, especially with City’s defence in the state it currently is. Fernandinho is an effective ball-player from centre back, but he lacks true defensive nous. Playing Cancelo would allow Walker to shift inside and hide deficiencies that Norwich exposed. If they’re not careful, the Canaries might not be the last team to do this.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

City’s Champions League group stage cakewalks are harming them

Quite literally, Manchester City had been there before. Just 12 months before, actually. Indeed, City and Shakhtar Donetsk know each other well having met each other three times in the past year. Pep Guardiola knows them even better – he has been paired against the Ukrainian team in seven of his 11 Champions League campaigns as a manager.

The Shakhtar Donetsk side the Catalan coach came up against on Wednesday night was not a vintage one, though. Indeed, the Premier League champions had no trouble in brushing them aside, claiming a comprehensive 3-0 away victory to start their Champions League group stage campaign with three points.

This was the toughest test Man City are likely to face in this season’s Champions League group stage, with Guardiola’s team also drawn against Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb. This has become a common occurrence in recent years. It’s true that City have had more than their fair share of luck with group draws.

But these easy groups aren’t helping Man City in their quest to become European champions. It has meant that by the time they reach the latter rounds, they are caught cold by the high calibre opponents they have been kept away from earlier on in the tournament. This has happened more than once.

It’s similar to a tennis player arriving in the latter rounds of a Grand Slam tournament without dropping a set. Elite athletes need obstacles to hurdle before they can reach the heights of their ability. The same goes for a team unit. City have lost to teams in the Champions League that should have beaten in recent years and one wonders if a lack of competition earlier in the competition has been a factor.

Guardiola is under pressure to deliver in Europe this season. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss was hired to bring the Champions League title to the Etihad Stadium. Three years on from his appointment and Guardiola has yet to take City past the quarter final stage. For context, his predecessor Manuel Pellegrini reached the semi finals of the Champions League.

The Premier League champions could have forgiven for breathing a sight of relief when the group stage draw was made. They could have been handed a much tougher group, that’s for sure. But an easy group doesn’t do them any favours either.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Liverpool can’t get comfy… they have defensive problems too

Five games played, five points clear at the top of the table… Jurgen Klopp must be privately smug about Liverpool’s start to the 2019/20 Premier League season. The German must have watched with a trademark Cheshire Cat grin painted across his face as defending champions Manchester City suffered a shock loss in East Anglia last weekend.

However, that grin might have been wiped away by what Liverpool suffered themselves in Italy on Tuesday night, with Napoli exposing the defensive vulnerabilities of Klopp’s team to claim a 2-0 victory on opening night of the new Champions League campaign.

In isolation, the defeat to Napoli is nothing to worry too much about. Carlo Ancelotti’s team also beat Liverpool in the Champions League group stages last season and it didn’t stop the Reds from going on to win a sixth European crown. But the result and performance must serve as a warning to Klopp and his players.

Indeed, Liverpool can’t afford to get comfy in their current position. They might have won their opening five Premier League fixtures, but there have been signs in their performances over the past few weeks that defensive vulnerabilities are starting to creep into their game. The lapses made against Napoli didn’t come completely out of the blue.

Norwich City troubled Liverpool on opening night of the 2019/20 Premier League before they toppled Man City a month later. The 4-1 scoreline somewhat flattened the Anfield side. Southampton also gave Liverpool something to think about and perhaps should have taken points off last season’s Premier League runners up. Even Newcastle United manager to take the lead against the Reds on Saturday before eventually succumbing to defeat. They could have scored a second as well.

For all that Liverpool’s attacking potency makes them the team they are, it was their defensive record that last season provided a basis for a challenge both in the Premier League and Champions League. Virgil Van Dijk has made a profound impact since arriving at Anfield from Southampton 18 months ago.

But cracks are starting to appear in that basis. So far, Liverpool have been able to absorb this, as demonstrated by their current position at the top of the Premier League table. But Klopp must recognise the recent shortcomings of his team, what the defeat to Napoli signified and how Man City’s troubles could also afflict them.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Premier League 2019-20: New signings, new rules

The premier leagues kicked off a few weeks ago. Manchester City is striving to win the championship for the third time in a row.

Liverpool, runners-up team in the last season, opened the campaign against Norwich. However, two main points of contention have been the rules and the video assistant references, both seemingly a big factor in the battle for the championship this season.

The Premier League has experienced three managerial appointments, and 11 football clubs made significant transfers. The 2019-2020 premier league season is expected to be more exciting than any other, and Betway gives you an opportunity to place your bets, so don’t miss that chance.

Manchester City gathered 198 points in the previous two seasons. They are battling to be recognized as the first club to with the title for a third consecutive year since a hat-trick of titles for Manchester in the 2007 to the 2009 era. Liverpool, who collected 97 points is expected to be the leading rival team for City.

New signings

The premier league has experienced the normal turnover of teams, managers, and players this season. Manchester United signed England defender Harry Maguire at £80m from Leicester City. This was one of the biggest signings of this summer, as the Red Devils received £74m from Italian club Inter for Romelu Lukaku.

Arsenal spent £72m to get winger Nicolas Pepe from Lille while Manchester City welcomed Atletico Madrid’s midfielder Rodri for £62.8m. They also bought Juventus full-back Joao Cancelo at £60m. Tottenham Hotspur spent £53.8m to get Tonguy Ndombele from Lyon. Note that this was their first signing since January 2018. Chelsea signed Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid at £40m and this was possible despite the transfer ban due to the fact he was registered with the team last season (on loan).

Sheffiled United, a promoted club broke the transfer record for the fourth time as Aston Villa spent more than £100m on transfers. Furthermore, another promoted team, Norwich, has signed 11 new players for smaller fees, free transfers, and loans.
Brighton, Newcastle, and Chelsea hired new managers. Maurizio Sarri resigned from Chelsea to join Juventus and Frank Lampard, a club legend, took up the mantle. Rafael Benitez’s contract at the Magpies ended, and he was replaced by Steve Bruce, the former Sheffield boss. Chris Hughton’s contract at the Seagulls was
terminated, and management hired Graham Potter.

Video assistant referee and new laws

The video assistant referee device that is now a common thing in football has been introduced to the premier league.

This is the first time the system will be used in EPL. According to the EPL’s guiding principle, the VAR will be used for visible and clear mistakes, missed incidents in the
four forms of match-changing events. They include mistaken identity, straight red cards, goals, and penalties. The Premier League intends to use this technology less frequently for other competitions to keep minimum intrusion to the game.
Many new rules have been introduced this summer, and they will make a debut in the EPL.

For instance, there are some changes in the wording of the handball rule. Unintentional handball is a crime in case it results in a goal. However, the law applies if the arm of the player is above the shoulder or makes the body bigger.

The Premier League will consider the head-to-head outcome to separate clubs level on goals scored, goal difference and points. The league has also introduced a winter break. However, there will be games on two weekends. Five games will be played
on the weekend of 8th February while the other five on the following week. Remember to take advantage of Betway and to place your bets so you have a better chance to make money.

Pep Guardiola needs Champions League results this season

Manchester City knew who they wanted to lead them into a new era. They’d known for quite some time, even tailoring certain aspects of the club to ready themselves for the eventual arrival of their chosen one. Indeed, City’s pursuit of Pep Guardiola can be traced back years before his actual appointment.

There were a number of reasons they wanted Guardiola. The Catalan coach brought with him his famed philosophy has since turned Man City into the most dynamic, exciting team in the Premier League. But they also wanted Guardiola because of his European record.

Guardiola is a two-time Champions League winner and so when the time came for City to identify the man who could establish them as a true European force, they settled on the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss. Three years have passed since then, though, and Guardiola hasn’t been able to deliver the title the club’s ownership wants more than any other.

In fact, Guardiola hasn’t been able to take City past the quarter finals of the Champions League. They reached the semi finals the season before Guardiola took over. For all that the Catalan has undoubtedly developed and progressed the Etihad Stadium side, his European failures stand out.

The Champions League is the final frontier for both City and Guardiola. As things stand, there’s an argument to be made that they are the greatest Premier League team of all time, collecting 198 points over the past two seasons, but they have still to make a real impression in Europe, even after the best part of a £1 billion investment in the squad over a decade.

Guardiola needs Champions League results this season. City should have beaten Tottenham in the competition’s quarter finals last season and they should have beaten Liverpool the season before that and Monaco in the round of 16 the season before that. Guardiola still has a point to prove in Europe as City manager.

A kind group stage draw, which saw the Premier League champions drawn with Shakhtar Donetsk, Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb, will give City a platform to build a challenge upon, but it’s in the knockout rounds where they must demonstrate progress. Otherwise Guardiola’s astonishing success at the Etihad Stadium will come with an asterisk alongside. With every season the Champions League trophy isn’t delivered, it gets bigger.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

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.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Hope for other EPL clubs after Manchester City draw with Tottenham

The Premier League season has started and 20 clubs will fight against each other for the coveted league title but also for European places & survival. In the first top clash of the season, a home match, Manchester City was all geared up to face Tottenham. In the last season, European finalists Tottenham knocked Man City out of the Champions League in the quarter-final.

Thus, the pressure was more on Manchester City as they have to give payback but also prove their mettle. The dreams and hopes of the supporters of City, as well as the players, involve winning as many trophies as possible this season. People who do sports betting invest a lot of money on these clubs through the real money casinos.

Manchester City were unable to defeat Tottenham. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. City players and fans will feel hard done by. Pep Guardiola’s champions will not have an easy time ahead. No team beat City since last season when Spurs accomplished a 1-0 victory in the Champions League. Since that loss, Guardiola’s men won many important matches, including two games versus Tottenham- one in the Champions League return leg and another in the league.

Last Saturday, a resounding 5-0 win in West Ham proved Manchester City will be aiming for another league title. Before Saturday 2-2 draw with Spurs, City had played 15 Premier League matches and won all of them to remain undefeated in the league since they lost 2-1 on January 29 in Newcastle. In the Champions League, Spurs defeated City and showed the other clubs that this was a possible feat. This led to a frantic second leg with more goals and much drama.

Manchester City set a record by winning 18 matches in succession in the Premier Leagues during the 2017/18 season. Unfortunately for City, they will not be able to beat or even match that record following the 2-2 home draw against bogey side Tottenham.

While records are good to have, what really matters to City and their fans is winning trophies, among them the coveted Premier League title. However, fans would love to see City lift the Champions League trophy as well. The 2-2 draw against Spurs has once again showed other English clubs that it is possible to derail this extremely talented City side.

For other clubs and in particular Liverpool, they must keep pace and they need to vanquish all the top 6 rival teams to maintain their extraordinary form. Last season, they gathered 97 points keeping the incredible form intact and lost only once in the entire season. Due to this loss, they came in second and Manchester City emerged as the winner last season. They lost the match to Man City and ended up losing the league by a single point which was quite saddening for Liverpool and their supporters. Liverpool beat Norwich 4-1 on opening weekend and followed that up with a second win away at Southampton meaning they are currently are on six points to City’s four.

That being said, for the coming three months, Liverpool may not be able to get close to the team of Guardiola again. This is because of the fixtures that are in front of them. Keeping the title race alive will be quite compelling just like it was last season. Manchester City was defeated last season by Newcastle and this simply showed how even struggling teams can play well and defeat the giants. 

Newcastle’s victory may be repeated by Norwich, Bournemouth or Brighton but it will be an extremely difficult feat against the talented and deep City side. Despite the 2-2 draw, it can be said that City’s players will have the opportunity to win match after match in the upcoming weeks and perhaps even build a small lead at the top before the trip to Anfield. Liverpool and Klopp are perhaps the only ones capable of stopping City from winning a third consecutive league title, However, watch out for Spurs would could still derail City when the two teams face each other in London.