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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

Man City face first test of their Premier League title defence

In some ways, Manchester City strolled to the Premier League title last season. They might have had Liverpool keeping pace with them for the majority of the way, but nonetheless Pep Guardiola’s team still went much of the season unchallenged by the rest of the English top flight.

By doing this, City managed to retain a Premier League title for the first time and now there are signs that what Guardiola has built could become a dynasty. The 2019/20 Premier League season started last week and there’s no suggestion that City won’t be the frontrunners to win a third-straight title.

Only Liverpool and possibly Tottenham Hotspur can challenge Guardiola’s defending champions. We will find out more about Spurs this weekend when Mauricio Pochettino’s team travel north to take on Man City at the Etihad Stadium. It’s the first marquee, top-of-the-table clash and do a lot to determine the title race for the season ahead.

However, we will also learn a lot about City and whether they can be potentially caught. Spurs have made progress over the summer, signing Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso to significantly strengthen what was already a strong squad. Pochettino led his team to the Champions League final last season, but he wants even more this season.

City were mightily impressive in the opening Premier League fixture of the season, putting five past West Ham away from home. This will be more of a test, though. Spurs aren’t just a strong team, but a group of players with the golden carrot of a piece of silverware still in front of their nose, leading them on. They are a motivated bunch.

There is a certain pressure that comes with being the chased. Man City, as the two-time defending Premier League champions, now play every week with a target on their back. Opposition sides up their game to take on Guardiola’s men and this will certainly be the case when Spurs come to visit this weekend.

What’s more, this is a side that caused City problems at the Etihad as recently as April, when Spurs knocked out the Premier League leaders on their way into the final four of the Champions League. Guardiola and his players cannot afford to take their challenge lightly. We will learn more about the dynamic between the two teams after Saturday.

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Man City might have pulled off the deal of the summer

Having racked up an incredible 198 points over the past two Premier League seasons, it was difficult heading into the summer to envisage where Manchester City might improve. No team has dominated the English top flight like Pep Guardiola’s side has of late and so any signing would have be a big one to take them any higher.

The addition of Rodri for a club record £62.8 million went some way to meeting this benchmark. The midfielder is a player in the mould of Guardiola and will fit in well at the Etihad Stadium. He has previously been compared to Sergio Busquets and so it was natural that City should seek him to be Fernandinho’s long term successor at the club.

Beyond that, there was the re-signing of full back Angelino for just £6 million to provide some depth and most assumed that would conclude Man City’s transfer business for the summer. One last deal, concluded with just hours of the window left, has many praising the Premier League champions. Indeed, it might just be the deal of the summer.

The £28 million signing of Joao Cancelo was announced on Wednesday, with Danilo heading to Juventus as part of the deal. The Portuguese international represents a significant upgrade on City’s present full back options and gives Guardiola the right back he’s always wanted, the right back he always wanted Kyle Walker to be.

In the current inflated market, £28 million (even if it includes a player heading to Turin in part-exchange) for a player of Cancelo’s quality and pedigree is shrewd business. Consider that Manchester United were forced to pay over £50 million for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, a right back with only one season of senior experience under his belt, earlier in the window.

City have recognised the situation at Juventus, where they need to balance the books after the big money signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Matthijs De Ligt in the past two summer windows, and have taken advantage of it by prising Cancelo from their grips for a fee that is surely well below market value.

Their ruthlessness must be admired. It’s just two years since they made Walker the most expensive full back in football history and now after one below-par season they have already replaced him with a stronger option. This is the sort of joined-up thinking that has made Man City the team they are today and the addition of Cancelo only underlines this further.

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