Is Pep Guardiola right to say that the league cup must end?

You’d have thought that if you’re club had won a certain competition two times from the last 3 years you wouldn’t be talking about ending it, but Pep Guardiola is right, the league cup must end.

Guardiola’s comments have come because of player fatigue and injuries not just to his own players but others also and he is blaming the fact that there is too much football. He was quick to point out the recent injuries to Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford which could mean both players will not be 100% fit for this summers Euro 2020 competition with England.

Guardiola said: “Eliminate competitions, take out this competition, so less games, less competitions, less teams, more quality, less quantity. People can live without football for a while. It’s too much. Start the season later after the summer. We have one game a week for a long time and then, after, we start having two or three in one week. In February it is one week, two weeks off. We have two games in two weeks then, after, we have 72 games in one week. It’s a little bit strange.”

The Manchester City manager made a great point about there being too much football. Football doesn’t really end anymore. With the season going on until the end of May, there are various ‘friendly’ competitions littered throughout the summer when major tournaments are not taking place. The introduction of the UEFA Nations League may be welcomed instead of friendly games but then again players become much more competitive in the hope of winning yet another trophy available to them.

The league cup started in 1960, so this year will be the 60th one and Manchester City ironically are the favourites to win again. They beat Manchester United 3-1 in the semi-final first leg and will face either Leicester or Aston Villa if they reach the final.

What is interesting is that in France the Coupe de la Ligue will be played for the final time this season. This is the equivalent cup to the league cup, which of course is now called the Carabao Cup because of sponsorship.

Guardiola’s comments may fall on deaf ears because the majority of clubs actually opt to play their second string sides in the league cup. This gives fringe players a chance to get game time and more experience. Guardiola has been known to play strong sides in the competition, some managers are simply wired that way to win all in front of them.

But the Spaniard does have a good point about there being too much football in the modern game overall. For now it seems that the league cup is very much here to stay.

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

Manchester City not replacing Vincent Kompany has cost them the Premier League

Pep Guardiola practically conceded defeat in Manchester City’s quest to retain their Premier League crown following a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace at the Etihad on Saturday.

“We did everything to win the game and unfortunately in the end we lost two points because we could not stop the counter-attack. But we have to continue. There are still a lot of games to play. We have to try to secure the place for the Champions League next season,” said Guardiola post-match. Continue reading

Premier League Game of the Weekend: Aston Villa 1-6 Manchester City

Two teams at two different halves of the league with two different objectives played on Sunday afternoon. For Aston Villa they were always going to be the underdog, but they knew they needed to fight for points. The emergence of Watford who looked to be taking up one place for relegation this season means that Villa have become a relegation contender. They fight it.

For Manchester City, the league looks over but they won’t give it up. The champions are 14 points behind Liverpool with this win and the Reds have a game in hand. It could be 17 by the end of the month. City’s true objective in the league was never to be in 3rd place, a position they courted for a few weeks as Leicester showed flashes of the team that won them the league title in 2016. Another objective in winning this game then, was to go 2nd and leapfrog Leicester who had already lost to Southampton the day before.

City met their objective as Villa’s one collapsed in on itself like a black hole. And it is a black hole where most of the Villa team would have wished for when they were on the receiving end of a vintage Manchester City performance.

When City attack this good, not many teams can match them.  A 6-1 victory is a massive score line and one that you feel manager Pep Guardiola needed (lest we forget the team in bottom place, Norwich City, who actually beat Guardiola’s team earlier this season) and these kind of games before a whistle is blown can be potential banana skins. But the only players slipping on them were Villa’s back four who were opened up time and again from the devastating attacks born from defence, made in the midfield and executed so well by a forward line, stand up Sergio Aguero.

It was Aguero who scored his 175th, 176th and 177th goals on Sunday. It was Aguero who passed Thierry Henry’s decade long record of scoring the most goals in the Premier League for a foreign player, and it was Aguero who scored his 12th hat trick, a record in the league surpassing Alan Shearer’s 11.

Aguero earned a whopping 16 pts in the Euro Fantasy League rankings too. He has 60 pts in total and is the current 2nd best potent striker in the rankings. From 12 starts Aguero has scored 13 goals and assisted in another three.

Rightly so Aguero should be championed but let’s not forget Riyad Mahrez who also had a spectacular game scoring two goals himself and at one point both him and Aguero were on 2 goals a piece and we were just wondering who of the two was going to complete a hat trick? Mahrez may have lost out on that battle, but it didn’t matter one bit. Mahrez is now ranked 5th in the fantasy rankings for Premier League strikers with 52 points. He has scored 7 goals and assisted in another 7 and that is an impressive stat.

Talking of stats City had a stunning 22 goal attempts, with 12 on target against Villa, just more than 50% of shots were hitting their target and 50% of goals flew in as a result. Gabriel Jesus’ 9th goal of the season was largely forgotten then giving the exploits of Aguero’s record and Mahrez’s goals.

This was a statement win for City and they would have loved to have kept a clean sheet too but Villa were awarded a last minute penalty, to give what fans remained crumbs from the richness of a six banquet meal.

What this means for the league may seem like little. Guardiola will hope that if Liverpool cannot lose games this season they will start drawing them and dropping points. It would mean that City would have to do what they did last season and go on a truly unique run which saw them win every game in the new year. The league title seems unlikely but at least City are interested in giving a challenge, and, that is the least one could ask for.

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

 

Record breaker Sergio Aguero deserves more recognition

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick against Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon, making him the all-time top-scoring foreign player in the Premier League. Above Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. The Argentine’s hat-trick took his tally to 177 goals in 255 Premier League games whilst his Manchester City tally sits at 249. Just staggering for a player who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Continue reading

Can Leicester City finish above Manchester City this season?

Just last month, all the focus seemed to be on whether Leicester and Manchester City could hang onto the coattails of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the title race.

Fast forward to the present day and it seems much has changed. Thanks to a Boxing Day defeat at home to Liverpool – and the manner of how The Reds dominated in that 4-0 thrashing – The Foxes’ focus now must be on keeping their place in the Premier League’s top four.

Continue reading

Manchester City’s Team of the Decade

The last 10 years have been a joyful one if you’re a Manchester City fan. With 818 points in 381 games, coaches such as Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola have built the Manchester club into a domestic powerhouse. With four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, three League Cups and three Community Shields, the Citizens have had a plethora of immense talent at the club in the past decade, and so here’s a look at their best XI in a 4-3-3.

Continue reading

Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp’s success is eating away at Pep Guardiola

Think of who has been the best manager of the decade in Europe and you will probably say Pep Guardiola. And you wouldn’t be wrong. The Spaniard has led Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City to success and has won 22 trophies this decade alone. He is undeniably the best manager football has had this decade, and yet there is something missing from his time at Manchester City just like there was at Bayern Munich.

That something of course is the Champions League- it is a trophy that Guardiola sees as validation that his team are the strongest and yet it is a trophy that he hasn’t won since 2011 with Barcelona.

Just before Guardiola came to manage Bayern Munich they were the European champions but he couldn’t replicate that and with Manchester City is has been much the same, only being able to reach a semi-final and mostly otherwise failing in the knock out rounds. City have simply never came close to winning the competition. There are reports that Guardiola could quit the club this summer but they remain just that but it does seem possible that he could leave the club by 2021, he simply doesn’t stay around for long periods and by then he would have been at City for five years.

It is total irony when you think about it that Manchester City are champions of England. Because it is the one thing that Liverpool may just have traded City as they won the Champions League last season beating Tottenham in the final who knocked out City in one of the classic games of European football in the modern era.

Guardiola was well under the assumption that his presence in England would take precedence when he joined up with City and that the club would rule all. He wasn’t silly enough to think it would just happen of course, but with his winning mentality, work rate and the budget that the club have he would have been forgiven for thinking this City project would have been Barcelona mark 2. And yet in the four seasons that he has taken charge of City (by the end of this one) he would have won 2 league titles. This by all means is still a great record but one senses for a man who once won 6 trophies in a single season with Barcelona he would have expected more success at City.

As it is he looks over his shoulder and there is a massive rival, an historic English team who have resurfaced and it is not the expected one, Manchester United but Liverpool who under Jurgen Klopp have looked simply unbeatable. Klopp’s Liverpool have put City and Guardiola to the sword many times most infamously in the semi final of the 2018 Champions League where Liverpool scored close to a cricket score.

Of course the irony is that City were the last team in the Premier League to beat Liverpool which happened one year ago and led City to an incredible league title win finishing on 98 points to Liverpool’s 97. And more irony is that it is how much Guardiola has raised the bar which has encouraged Klopp to follow suit with Liverpool and raise it even further.

It is Klopp who has that Champions League medal that Guardiola wants so much with his debutante City side and it is Klopp who raised it up again leading his Liverpool side to the World Club Cup, another trophy Guardiola hasn’t seen since 2011.

So both managers are holding trophies the other one wants, but it’s not even as simple as that when you look at the current league table and see that Klopp and Liverpool are going to wrap up the league title. Currently having a 10 point gap over Leicester in 2nd but having 2 games in hand, that could be 16. The league looks Liverpool’s to lose and the Reds are certainly marching on.

Liverpool are claiming to be the number 1 team in England and Europe and there doesn’t seem like there is much Guardiola can do about it, except of course to win the Champions League this season, that is.

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

 

Mikel Arteta has stepped into the storm at Arsenal can he prove his worth?

No wins in his first two games does not bode well for Mikel Arteta and one has to wonder if Arteta will be the right man to lead Arsenal forward?

Arteta’s first game in charge of Arsenal ended in a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth. The result was seen as acceptable given that Eddie Howe’s side had taken the lead but at the same time Bournemouth had been in very bad form and fallen in the league, this could have been an opportunity to beat them.

That match was followed up by the recent Chelsea game. A grudge London derby match was not what Arteta and Arsenal needed right now. But the club played good football and took the lead through the excellent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and everything seemed like it was going well. Even with five minutes remaining one could see Arsenal winning the game. Although there was the niggling thought that despite good play the Gunners had only had 2 shots on target and this was a home game.

And then it happened, Bernd Leno made a shocking error and Chelsea scored not one but two goals in the last few minutes to snatch the win. Perhaps a draw would have been the fair result as this was a game of two halves but Arsenal had lost again.

Arteta then has started with 1 draw and one loss and it is clearly too early to judge him yet. However the modern game has turned cruel at times and if Arsenal have not picked up and changed in a months time he will be judged by some.

Have the Arsenal board made the right decision and what is expected of Arteta this season? Well Arteta was one of the leading favourites to be appointed as Arsenal manager after Arsene Wenger had left the club after 22 years but instead the board chose Unai Emery, on paper that seemed like a fair choice. The board have now gone for Arteta, but again on what grounds?

Arteta has no top flight managerial experience however the one card he does have up his sleeve is that he has been Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City in the last few years and has stuck to the former Barcelona legend like glue. But surely management of your own team and making those decisions is quite a different job altogether? When one looks at the fact that Everton were able to lure Carlo Ancelotti one of the most decorated managers of the past 20 years and Arsenal make do with Arteta, one also wonders just how far the Gunners expectations have fallen.

Of course let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Arteta could well end up being a brilliant manager, but maybe Arsenal needed that experience and quality now and not to flourish slowly in the next few years. With the exception of Chelsea hiring Frank Lampard most big clubs go with experience. The other worrying aspect is that with new managers usually come the results. Look at Ancelotti at Everton and Nigel Pearson at Watford.

Arsenal are now 11 points from a top 4 position and it is quite clear that this season is a near write off in terms of the league. There are simply too many points and too many positions in between the clubs, and this league has been fiercely competitive this season.

Arteta’s objective is too surely get the club winning games again and make coming to the Emirates a fortress. The confidence factor has to be reversed. So forget league positions and cups, the priority has to be making Arsenal what Arsenal have been for the past 20 years, a very good attacking club.

On the little evidence that we have seen Arteta is in for a major job, and one has to wonder if he has been thrown in at the deep end? On New Year’s Day Arsenal will face Manchester United to begin their first game of a new decade, good luck Mikel, you will need it.

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

Kevin De Bruyne masterclass leads to dominant Manchester City win

Kevin de Bruyne produced a masterclass against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon with a brace as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ended any hope of Freddie Ljungberg getting the Arsenal job on a permanent basis. The Gunners lacked creativity but perhaps what’s more worrying is their defensive fragilities that have been evident for some time now. Continue reading

Manchester City’s ambitions of retaining the Premier League title are over

Manchester City’s ambitions of retaining the Premier League title are over. Only a monumental collapse from Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will give Pep Guardiola’s side even a glimmer of hope, with the Citizens languishing in third, six points behind Leicester City. Continue reading