Premier League’s Game of the Week: Manchester City 2-5 Leicester City

If any of Manchester City and Leicester were going to win 5-2 then 99% of the chance it would be Manchester City, at the weekend we saw the rule to that exception.

In a stunning result Leicester who have started the season in style put 5 goals past Pep Guardiola’s City side, champions in two out of the last 3 seasons as they sailed to a stunning 5-2 victory at the Etihad.

And no one could have seen it coming. In City’s first game of the season they made light work of Wolves beating them 3-1. Whilst Leicester had started well they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup in midweek against Arsenal, though Brendan Rodgers was able to leave a few regulars out.

As for the game it looked over almost as soon as it had started as Riyad Mahrez the former Leicester player, who else? gave City the lead. This was now going to go to script surely and City were supposed to wipe the floor with the unbeaten Leicester, but that didn’t happen.

Leicester made their presence felt and James Maddison was all over the pitch, there was a sense that this game wasn’t all going to be about City. Then before half time Leicester were awarded a penalty and Jamie Vardy scored his 3rd goal of the season. The half ended 1-1, and still even with 45 minutes gone nobody could have predicted the outcome.

It was early in the second half that the change happened. Vardy scored again a brilliant flick that put the Foxes in the lead, and then just five minutes later it was another penalty, again for Leicester and in the space of 21 minutes Vardy- the top goalscorer last season had completed his hat trick.

At 3-1 the game wasn’t over and yet it felt it like the home side despite their quality had been winded. The game rolled on and City tried but the minutes ticked away and then the brilliant James Maddison smashed a long range shot right into the back of the net, it was 4-1, the game was over for City, but the game wasn’t over.

New signing for Guardiola’s team Nathan Ake got a goal back to make it 4-2 near the end, could there have possibly been a crazy comeback? In the Premier League you can really never say never but that wasn’t happening today.

A third penalty confirmed that when Youri Tielemans converted, the score was now 5-2. It was an incredible result and even though there were 3 penalties there was nothing controversial about the decisions, no one complained everyone accepted even Guardiola had to, his team had been well and truly beaten and he was right to be annoyed with his defenders after the game, basic errors at this level left viewers stunned.

With the win Leicester the 2016 champions are top of the league once more, they have scored an incredible 12 goals. For City this feels like deja vue in that they started slow last season and dropped too many points as their rivals Liverpool started strongly, the gap is already six points between City and the champions.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players for Matchday 3

Another 29 goals were scored at the weekend in the Premier League from 8 games, keeping a frantic and exciting goal average up since the beginning of the season. The stunning result was Leicester travelling to Manchester City and beating them 5-2, as a result Brendan Rodgers side are now top of the league.

Chelsea and Tottenham could only draw their games and West Ham finally put in a great performance to condemn Wolves to their 2nd defeat in a row.

So which players performed the best this past weekend, are they in your team, look below to find out.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski- West Ham 7pts

Lukasz Fabianski didn’t have a lot to do but made some good saves and kept himself composed as he kept a clean sheet. He really got over his instructions to the back four also, and played his part in a fantastic win for the Hammers. He now has 3 points overall as was in the minus points after a poor start from the club.

Defender: Arthur  Masuaku- West Ham 7pts

With Masuaku earning 7 points at the weekend for his clean sheet in West Ham’s 4-0 win over Wolves he now has the most points for any defender at the club with an overall score of 6 points his value is 5.5m. Masuaku capped off a great match by assisting for the clubs 4th goal.

Defender: Jannick Vestergaard- Southampton 5pts

Not many clubs are keeping clean sheets in the league this season, but Southampton did and they won their first game by beating Burnley 1-0 away. Vestergaard was clearly the best defender for the Saints and earned the most with 5pts, in an important victory for the club.

Defender: Liam Cooper- Leeds United 5pts

Leeds had conceded 7 goals before this game and so it was a surprise to see the club keep a clean sheet. Liam Cooper really rose to the occasion to keep Sheffield United quiet and Leeds marched on with back to back wins. Cooper is valued at 6m.

Defender: Aaron Cresswell- West Ham 5pts

It’s been a nightmare time for West Ham, so beating Wolves 4-0 was very welcome. Cresswell was able to keep a clean sheet in the process and made some very daring tackles and set the play up well as the game went on.

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez- Manchester City 6pts

Manchester City had a nightmare losing 5-2 against Leicester but one bright light was Mahrez’s performance. He scored the opener for the home side and assisted in the clubs 2nd goal, of course by then the game was over. Mahrez is valued at 9.5m.

Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes- Manchester United 5pts

Bruno Fernandes was one of the best players for Manchester United last season. He has started this one slightly quiet but made up for it this past weekend as United beat Brighton 3-2. He scored an injury time penalty which was the winning goal, assisted in the clubs 2nd goal, and got booked though which lost him a few points.

Midfielder: Lucas Moura- Tottenham 4pts

A controversial game saw Tottenham draw 1-1 with Newcastle who were clearly the second best side. Lucas Moura got the goal to put Tottenham ahead and he will hope this is the first of many to come this season.

Midfielder: Jack Harrison -Leeds United 4pts

Jack Harrison had a solid game in midfield for Leeds and capped off his day by setting up Patrick Bamford to get the only goal and winning one for Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the 88th minute. Harrison now has 8 points overall and is valued at 5.5m.

Striker: Jamie Vardy -Leicester 14pts

Easily one of the best Premier League strikers of the decade, Jamie Vardy like a fine wine just keeps getting better and better defying his age. Vardy was remarkable as he scored a hat trick against the mighty Manchester City away from home. Two were penalties but he still had to put them away and then scored a cracking goal in between. Vardy earned a huge 14pts and now has 5 goals already this season.

Striker: Callum Robertson- West Bromwich Albion 8pts

Callum Robertson had a fantastic game as his side took on Chelsea and ended up drawing 3-3. He will feel disappointed given that he had given WBA a 2 goal lead, but the final result shouldn’t distract from his fantastic performance and he makes the team of the weekend. He is valued at just 3.5m.

Player of the weekend: Jamie Vardy- Leicester 14pts

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Messi could stay at Barcelona, but is he the problem?

The transfer saga of Lionel Messi may just likely end up as a war of words and nothing else. Messi’s father held talks with the Barcelona board yesterday evening and there were some mixed reports. But some sources confirmed that Messi’s father is optimistic that Messi will make a U-turn and actually stay with the club.

In truth there are only 2 teams that look likely being the right fit for Messi, one is Barcelona and the other is Premier League side Manchester City, mostly because of the Pep Guardiola factor. However there is no guarantee that Guardiola will be at City for the next years ahead, he is entering his 5th season with the club which is a record for him, and this will be likely his final season in Manchester.

Also if you want to know the latest mutterings it makes sense to follow the bookmakers instincts. Last week City were the favourites to sign Messi and could be backed at 1.91 (10/11) to get their main. They are now the 2nd favourites and out to 3.00 (2/1). They have been replaced by Barcelona who are now big odds on at 1.30 (1/3) to keep Messi. That could tell us everything we need to know.

If Messi stays many people especially the fans of Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief, he is so ingrained into the city, they know they will lose him one day, but no real Barcelona fan wants to lose him like this.

However here’s a thought, is Messi the actual problem at Barcelona? By problem that is not fully blaming him for everything, that would be churlish, and he has been the main reason why Barcelona have been one of the best teams in world football over the past decade. But has Messi simply grown to be such a star that he is stifling other players from growing.

Take out Messi right now from the team and Barcelona do not have higher level world stars in the team. They have very good players, players that on their day look the best in the world, but could it not be argued that the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Phillpe Coutinho could grow into their roles more if Messi was not there?

Messi is indispensable of course, but at the same time with no Messi in the team Barcelona would find another way of playing. And despite how brilliant he has been for the club, over the past few seasons it has become noticeable that he has stopped chasing back once he has lost possession of the ball. A hunger has left him, although that could be his personal protest of how the club are being run.

A team without Messi would be interesting and at the same time personally for Messi to be playing in a different league would benefit him surely. The fire seems to have left him, imagine having that reignited. And at 33 his best years are fading fast, that is the nature of the game, he perhaps has 2 very good seasons left in him at the very top. Would it not make sense to leave now?

Change is needed at Barcelona if Messi is to see any more silverware if he decides to stay. The club have spent close to £1 billion in the past 5 years. Big clubs spend big, but that money was being spent to win Champions Leagues, it did bring one for the club in that time but a club the size of Barcelona demand more, much more. That is how high the bar is at the club.

It will be very interesting in some ways if Messi does stay with Ronald Koeman in charge, at least if Messi stays with the league kicking off soon it will give the club a purpose in the early stages of the new season.

La Liga kicks off on September 12th, although Barcelona have been granted extra rest after their participating in last months Champions League. The club will play on the 12th but this will be a friendly match. Their first game of the season will take place on September 27th at home to Villarreal.

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Does football need fans inside stadiums?

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought up many questions, indeed more questions than answers as the world tries to adapt to life with the pandemic. It is sadly a pandemic they may dissipate somewhat but could well never go away. Everything seems to have changed and that of course has affected the world of football.

There are no fans allowed in the major European leagues. So much has changed so fast because of the spread of the virus. Let’s go back to the summer when UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was adamant that fans would be attending the Champions League final. He could not visualise that no fans would be able to witness the match live, even though domestic football had already been told that fans could not attend games. The Champions League final without fans, it was simply unthinkable. Even the knock out games seemed a stretch. The best teams, the best players, the sponsors, the spectacle all this going on, but no crowd atmosphere, surely the death of football was around the corner?

True the death of football is going over the top, but surely the game was going to miss something? And yet has it? One of the first major leagues to kick off again in Europe was the Bundesliga, did no fans really effect the outcomes of the games? True home wins dipped from 46% to 18% but that was only in the first few weeks. After that Bayern Munich played some incredible attacking football just like they would have with fans, and won the league in incredible style.

And the other leagues started up and the teams did what they do, they played. There were many incidents off the ball, yellow cards, sending offs, attacks, corners and goals. Perhaps the first few games were slow to start with especially in the Premier League when most of the early games goals were coming in the 2nd half of play. But still, the players just got on with it. There was no atmosphere in the stands but that didn’t stop the intensity on the pitch.

In the Champions League the quality of football was the same as a season with fans.There was the beauty in how Bayern played such incredible attacking football against Barcelona. The fans did not influence a game that ended with Bayern scoring 8 goals. There was also the thrills, PSG made it to the final, (their first one) but the French champions were going out at the quarter final stage after they were trailing Atalanta 1-0 on the 90th minute. They then did an infamous Manchester United comeback from the 1999 final and found not one but two goals in injury time to break Italian hearts.

One could see this in reverse of course. Look at West Ham in the Premier League, who looked like a different team with no fans especially at home. It felt as though the shackles and pressure from the fans was all too bearing on David Moyes side who before the season was paused in March looked like one of the favourite clubs to be relegated. But without the added pressure of critical fans, they played good football and easily stayed up. Of course no one at the club has admitted that it could be a key reason, but it is worth thinking about.

With television companies providing noise crowd and the cameras clearly angled at a certain position, as an armchair fan the fans at the games simply were not missed. And even though this wasn’t an experiment and was indeed needed, the result one has to wonder, is that perhaps fans are not needed to enhance a game of football.

At the same time revenue is of course lost, though for the most elite teams the bulk of the money comes through television. The lower league clubs would obviously fold and dissolve without the fans and of course especially for the smaller teams there is a sense of community when supporting your local team. In that case and even in the case of a fan attending a Manchester City game or Real Madrid one, it comes down to watching a live match, like a live concert, it is socially entertaining, and the game can be a fun way of relaxing and having a story to tell.

Still that doesn’t take away from what we have witnessed over the past few months, sure the biggest games ignite a special atmosphere, who could imagine Liverpool’s Kop stand empty during a classic European night of football? It simply isn’t the same. At the same time the players are professional and perhaps we have learned that when it comes down to winning games, fans make little to no difference, if in attendance or watching from home.

 

Will Liverpool defend Premier League title in 2020-21?

Liverpool won the 2019-20 Premier League title by a record margin of victory – 18 points ahead of runners-up Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp’s side all but had the title wrapped up in early 2019 and would have sealed it as early as March but for a shock defeat at the hands of Watford just before the disruption.

The Reds were efficient if not dominant on occasions, winning 26 of their first 27 Premier League games. This included late winning goals versus Leicester City (95′), Aston Villa (87′), Crystal Palace (85′), Wolverhampton Wanderers (84′) and West Ham United (81′).

Whilst Liverpool were putting win after win together, pre-season favourites Manchester City were dropping unexpected points – held 2-2 at home by Tottenham Hotspur, beaten 3-2 at Norwich City, in both matches versus Wolves, and held 2-2 at Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United.

Pep Guardiola’s side were poor at the back, clearly missing the departure of Vincent Kompany last summer as John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi certainly weren’t capable replacements, especially when Aymeric Laporte was lost for several months through injury.

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3 more positions Man City need to fill

Manchester City have already made additions to their squad this summer with the acquisitions of Ferran Torres and Nathan Ake.

Torres arrives from Valencia and is capable of playing on either flank. With the departure of Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich, he could backup Raheem Sterling down the left.

Centre-back Ake is coming off the back of three consecutive seasons as a regular for Bournemouth having previously come through the youth ranks at Chelsea and also played a season of Premier League football at Watford. Ake was widely-regardless as the best defender the Cherries had but will be making a huge step up from relegated Bournemouth to title-chasing Manchester City.

Here are three more positions Manchester City could fill this summer:

Left-back

This has been a real issue for city over the past couple of seasons with Benjamin Mendy constantly being injured and seemingly having fallen out with Pep Guardiola. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabian Delph even filled in at times.

The Spanish manager hasn’t had a great deal with defensive signings in England, having splashed out a lot of money on them in his four seasons at the club, but could really do with getting things right this summer.

Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell could be a solid option whilst Bayern Munich have a number of options if they’d be willing to sell one.

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David Silva produces a dramatic U-turn to shun Lazio and join Real Sociedad

David Silva has created some brilliant swerves and dummies in his time on the pitch but he may have just pulled off his best yet, and it required not even kicking a ball. The Manchester City legend who was always leaving at the end of the season has decided at the eleventh hour to join La Liga’s Real Sociedad even though he was expected to sign for Serie A outfit Lazio, and the Italians are furious about his decision.

The problem with Silva’s change of heart is because he neglected to tell Lazio of his decision, apparently simply not returning their calls as he focused on signing on a free for Real Sociedad.

Lazio’s sporting director Igli Tare said: “I learn about David Silva’s transfer to Real Sociedad. I have great respect for the player, but not for the man.”

But why has Silva decided to join Sociedad? At least on paper it looks like the midfield maestro has chosen the weaker team. Lazio really improved this season and at one point were giving Juventus a run for their money for the title before eventually fading away. Lazio will also play in next seasons Champions League.

As for Sociedad they had a decent season themselves by their standards and finished 6th and have qualified for the Europa League. Sociedad look a club on the up and that together with the prospect of returning to his home country seems to have been too much to turn down. A sixth placed club from last season wanting your services at 34 was the carrot that Silva was after and he is sure to fit into the side and maybe even gain more regular games than he would have at Lazio.

It has been an emotional week for Silva even if he didn’t show the best etiquette to Lazio and he told Manchester City fans: “I look back and it’s clear I could not have made a better decision than to accept City’s proposal to join their project back in 2010. Manchester City and I have grown together. In 10 years, I have developed personally and professionally. I have celebrated many victories and titles and lived through epic moments.”

Silva then added:

“I have seen my lovely child, Mateo, born and I have even started to feel comfortable under heavy rain! City are a fantastic family. I won’t ever forget the way they threw themselves into helping me when I suffered the hardest moments of my life, offering me support and empathy.”

Silva will be hoping that he has some more magic left in his boots for Sociedad to have a successful season and build on the last one. Dropping down from the Champions League to Europa will be worth it for the international great to finally return to his home country to play out his days.

David Silva could be worth adding to your fantasy team for the new season ahead. Check out his statistics and value.

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Not a great time for Manchester as United and City dumped out of European competition

First it was the turn of Manchester City who were dumped out of the Champions League at the quarter final stage against Lyon. A few days later their bitter rivals Manchester United followed suit losing 2-1 against Sevilla in the semi-finals of the Europa League. It’s fair to say that it’s been a bleak week for English football in Europe especially as Wolves exited the Europa League too. But it hasn’t been a good week for football in Manchester either.

Manchester City’s defeat means that they finished the season by ‘only’ winning the Carabao Cup. For a club of its size and budget that return marks a failed season and manager Pep Guardiola will know this. City were supposed to make light work of French club Lyon and advance to the semi-finals. But it was easy to tell early on in the game that Lyon had City’s number.

City remained with the threats and had the superior technical skill but Lyon had the pace of the game in the bag. They could slow it down when they wanted and their tactic of a 3-5-2 worked to perfection.

Moussa Dembele ended the game as the hero as he scored 2 goals which killed the game off and his redemption seems complete after his talents have largely been ignored by the Premier League. In France the media were all over Houssem Aouar. He was deemed as being all over the pitch and always in the right places and was named man of the match for most publications with a 9/10. Aouar has been on the fringes of the French team and these type of performances will only do him good, and he is still only 22 so has that chance.

As for City Guardiola said he has no excuses and that the better team won, but this loss would have been a big blow to him. Having said that with Bayern Munich waiting in the semi finals one wonders if it was light escape for City, it will be interesting to see how Lyon fare against the German team who look incredible.

For Manchester United their sheer momentum and confidence as the Premier League wrapped up simply wasn’t enough to get them past the line and into what would have been a surprise Europa League final. The problem for United is that there doesn’t seem to be a plan b and that is why even though on the night they were better than Sevilla they couldn’t get past them. The Spanish team who have won the Europa League on 5 occasions from the past 15 years may well add to that record.

All in all it has been a disappointing season for the Manchester clubs. City have lost their title to Liverpool and the one trophy they want- the Champions League- continues to elude them. As for United, they finished the season very well and that was good enough to play in the Champions League next season, a major plus point, but they have a long way to go to get back to the top.

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3 players who can ensure Man City beat Lyon

Manchester City head into Saturday’s single-legged Champions League quarter-final tie against Lyon as the clear favourites to progress.

Pep Guardiola’s side were 2-1 winners over Real Madrid last Friday to reach the final eight with a 4-2 aggregate score.

Lyon came through their Round of 16 tie on away goals against Juventus and will need to record another upset if they’re to reach the semi-finals, which would setup a tie versus either Bayern Munich or Barcelona.

In order for Manchester City not to slip up, here are three of their key players who can win them the tie versus the French Ligue 1 outfit:

Raheem Sterling

Lyon haven’t been the best at defending against wide players this season so this could be a perfect matchup for Raheem Sterling down the left. The Manchester City forward scored the opener versus Real Madrid last week to take his tally up to six in the Champions League this season.

Sterling’s pace could be a problem for Leo Dubois, whilst also dragging Jason Denayer out from his position of right centre-back in a back three. The England international has shown some good finishes when cutting inside on his stronger foot this season so don’t be surprised if he gets among the goals again.

Fernandinho

Manchester City have been weak at the back this season, but did end their Premier League campaign conceding just one goal in their final five matches. Memphis Depay has been Lyon’s star in the Champions League so far this campaign. The former-Manchester United man will likely play in a front two and drift out of to the left so Fernandinho could be provided support from Kyle Walker.

Moussa Dembele was the French side’s top scorer in the league this season but hasn’t broken his duck in the Champions League. He’ll be the other striker for the City defence to be wary of, but likely be marked by Aymeric Laporte rather than Fernandinho.

Kevin De Bruyne

Although an obvious choice to put on this list, if Manchester City don’t get it right defensively they are going to need to score a few at the other end. Guardiola is likely to include Kevin De Bruyne as one of his central midfield trio. The Belgian may want to drift out to the right where he can whip a number of dangerous crosses into the box for the likes of Gabriel Jesus to attack.

Lyon played with a midfield five in Turin last time out so space could be sparse for Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, but we all know that both remain capable of winning any game regardless.

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Third time lucky for Man City vs Lyon?

Manchester City and Lyon will complete the 2019-20 Champions League quarter-final round on Friday when the two meet at Sporting Club of Portugal’s Estadio Jose Alvalade.

The Citizens head into the match as the bookmakers’ favourites to progress to the final four, similar to last season’s two group stages, in which they failed to win.

Lyon took four points from Pep Guardiola’s side in the group stage last season, which included a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium in the opening game. The French side had a rather bizarre record last season, with that being their only victory, whilst they progressed to the knockout rounds by drawing their other five games.

This season is a different story though, not least for the disruption which sees the competition being completed in August, with one legged ties.

Whilst the English Premier League side ended their campaign with five consecutive victories, scoring 21 goals and conceding just once. Though a runners-up spot was already confirmed at this point and they did lose their most important game after the restart – their FA Cup semi-final to Arsenal.

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