Pep Guardiola is changing the Premier League for the better

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Pep Guardiola is arguably the best manager in world football and yet he still has his critics but one thing is very sure he is the best man manager out there.

It’s true of course that everywhere Guardiola has been he has had money to spend, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City- although one could argue that at Barcelona he just inherited an insanely fantastic squad of players who ended up being hailed as perhaps the greatest club team of all time, and tika taka as we know it was born.

It would be a mistake just to think that Guardiola throws money at the problem, because as Real Madrid proved throughout the 2000s when they went through their first phase of galactico mania, money doesn’t always buy the best balanced team.

But with Guardiola there is a huge difference. First he identifies the problem areas and then asks for the money, yes he has been lucky to have that privilege but then he knows despite the talents of the incoming player that they will still need proper coaching. Guardiola will never do a Jose Mourinho and have a total meltdown at at football club, it isn’t in his nature and it isn’t in his nature to have a major public falling out with a player.

Guardiola remains a winner and wants to win all trophies his team are entered into. It is why Manchester City currently lead the Premier League, even though Liverpool have arguably been the best side this season and have lost just 1 game. Him and his teams never give up, relentless is a good word to use.

After City beat Chelsea 6-0, Guardiola was most likely beaming inside but he wasn’t letting the press know it. If you had not known the score you could have thought that City had perhaps scrapped to a 1-0 or 2-1 win. This is in his DNA his mentality because a win is just a win. It was also telling to see that Guardiola admitted that his City side are not on the same level as Barcelona when he coached them. For arguments sake he could have said yes, but he refused to say so. Instead he stuck to the truth that City haven’t even won the Champions League yet.

And onto that City are now the favourites to win their first ever European Cup, and yes they have come a long way.

Arsene Wenger has been celebrated in the Premier League as a foreign coach who came in and changed how players saw their fitness and changed diets which spread from Arsenal right through the league. If Wenger was the founder of that in the modern age then Guardiola is the torch bearer. His qualities and professionalism seem to know no boundaries. You can tell when you look into his eyes that he is thinking about City and football 24/7. That is what City bought into when they decided to make Guardiola boss, and now the club are reaping those awards.

Manchester City rampant as they climb above Liverpool

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The difference in class between Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea was clear on Sunday afternoon. Irresistible in the first half, City’s five shots at Kepa Arrizabalaga’s goal resulted in four of them hitting the back of the net after just 25 minutes.

Raheem Sterling had the hosts a goal up inside after just three minutes with an emphatic finish at the far post and while Sarri called for concentration after conceding so early, it should have been two just seconds later, only for Sergio Aguero to miss seconds later from a yard. Continue reading

Why brilliant Sergio Aguero won’t beat Alan Shearer’s Premier League record

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If you were to list the best ever strikers in Premier League history, surely Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero has to be up there. The Argentinian scored a superb hattrick at the weekend as City beat Arsenal 3-1 to keep up the pressure on Liverpool at the top of the league and has been such a consistent player for the Manchester side.

Indeed one could say that Aguero has been the best forward in the Premier League for the past five years. Aguero has now scored 157 times since joining City in the summer of 2011 from Atletico Madrid, and he has scored some brilliant and memorable goals and been able to win countless trophies with City.

But question remains, if he is that good can be beat a record that has stayed since the early 2000s, the one of all time Premier League goal scorer? The answer seems to be no.

Let’s look into that deeper. Firstly Shearer’s record stands at 260 goals, and so Aguero would need 104 goals to beat it. Aguero is averaging 20 goals a season once we take his tally into account and divide that by the seasons he has played. This season he has scored 14 goals and he is on course to get anything between 25-30 goals. His highest ever in the league was recorded in 2014/15 where he notched 26 goals, even though City didn’t win the title, that year it went to Chelsea.

One problem for Aguero is how long does he have left in the Premier League? By the start of next season he will be 31 and it does seem unlikely he will leave the club in the near future. At the same time he may be tempted to go to China for an even bigger pay day but there is also the calling card of his home country Argentina, where Aguero would love to end his career there. We are seeing in some aspects how footballers can extend their careers by a few years, but at the very top where Aguero is now, he has at best 2 more seasons on top of this one.

That is the real problem in Ageuro breaking the record. Because if he was to do so, he would need at least another four seasons of scoring 25 goals in each one and not trying to get injured which is a possibility for him. What Aguero does have is a better games to goals ratio than Shearer, but it is unlikely he will be able to beat the former Blackburn and Newcastle forwards record.

A realistic option for him would be to break the 200 goal barrier. Only two players have ever done so, Shearer of course and the other being Wayne Rooney who left the Premier League having acquired a total of 208 goals. Aguero has the chance to break it and he is currently in 8th place. His next target will be to get to 164 goals where he would overtake both Jermain Defoe and Robbie Fowler and one suspects that Aguero will be able to do that this season.

If he stays fit and remains at City for another two seasons after this he could end up with as much as 220 goals which would put him in 2nd place- he would be richly deserving of that as he has clearly been one of the best strikers not just in the Premier League but in Europe of the past decade.

February could be key to Liverpool winning the Premier League

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The league table doesn’t lie and as we have entered February Liverpool are still top of the standings. Their lead is just 2 points from current champions Manchester City but The Reds will play West Ham on Monday night and so they could have their 5 point lead restored.

But a 5 point lead isn’t going to quite cut it against a team like Pep Guardiola’s City side and Liverpool know they should be 7 points in front after dropping points at Anfield last week when they drew against Leicester- and in that game they were an early goal up.

This season has been all about Liverpool and the question remains, can they really win their first league title since 1990? There is also pressure on manager Jurgen Klopp who has done a terrific job, identifying which players Liverpool have needed and the team have played wonderful football since he has arrived, but awkwardly there has been no trophies as yet.

But February does seem to be the defining month for Liverpool and even though the title won’t be decided this month, it could take a large swing that way. Liverpool start the month of with a trip to West Ham. On paper this looks like 3 points and we must remember that The Reds have scored a whopping 16 goals against the Londoners in their past 4 meetings.

West Ham have been hit by a series of injuries and Liverpool will fancy their chances. However the game is in London where West Ham have already beaten Manchester United and drew with Chelsea. The month continues with a home match against Bournemouth who have been terrific at home but poor away- even an out of form Everton were able to beat Eddie Howe’s side, and this should be a good win for Liverpool.

Then comes the Champions League first leg tie again at Anfield but against a super European heavyweight in Bayern Munich. Liverpool with their fantastic atmosphere of a crowd will fancy their chances, but the feeling is that the league is more important this season- and this is another game that could take a lot out of Jurgen Klopp’s players.

The following weekend they will face the resurgent Manchester United at Old Trafford on what could prove to be a pivotal match. United do not want Liverpool to win the league- although they wouldn’t want City to win it either, but at the same time they are going for a top 4 spot, so that could well be the game of the season so far.

They then finish the month off with what could be another win, as they are back home against Watford. So there are some pressure cooker games for The Reds, then again there are for Manchester City too and even Tottenham are not that far behind. One thing for sure is that we will have a clearer picture of who will be Premier League champions at the end of the month.

Manchester City can forget the title if they lose to Arsenal

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Defeat at Newcastle United on Tuesday night has put Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola in an unpleasant situation. Their fourth defeat of the season, the Citizens find themselves five points behind their title rivals after Liverpool’s draw with Leicester City. A defeat against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon could well put a huge dent in their title aspirations with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool looking much more consistent. Continue reading

Manchester City can’t afford to be complacent against Wolves

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With nine dropped points in December, Pep Guardiola will be eager to keep the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool when his Manchester City welcome Wolves to the Etihad Stadium on Monday night.

Being labelled as giant killers, the visitors have recently beaten Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool and so Guardiola will warn his team against complacency, despite coming into this fixture on the back of a morale boosting wins against Rotherham (7-0) and Burton Albion (9-0) in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup semi-final. Continue reading

Bernardo Silva: His importance to Manchester City

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Manchester City’s Portuguese magician Bernardo Silva put in a performance of a lifetime against Liverpool to keep their Premier League title hopes alive on Thursday night, just months after he was almost shipped out after struggling during his first season in Manchester. Continue reading

How will Liverpool react to losing in the Premier League?

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For the first time this season it finally happened, Liverpool after 21 games lost a game in the Premier League.

It was a fantastic run which saw some fantastic results including only a week ago demolishing Arsenal 5-1. But the run came to an end when the Reds visited the Etihad the home of current champions Manchester City and lost 2-1 in a quite frenetic game of football.

Liverpool still have the advantage in the league and lead by 4 points as they try to win England’s top domestic competition for the first time since 1990. But now that they have lost how will Liverpool react? History has told us it is how you finally react to a loss that defines you as a champion. In the league we will have to wait another week given that cup matches take over England this weekend.

One wonders if that is a hindrance or actually a good thing for Liverpool. On one hand it’s frustrating as the team want to play their next league game, win it, and prove that the City loss was just a tiny blip. On the other hand if they can get a good FA Cup win then that could restore some confidence going into the next league match. So that remains interesting to see.

Liverpool will play Wolves and the game is away from home which could be a tricky 90 minutes for the club. The fact that they have been paired with a Premier League team at this stage of the cup is not to their advantage. But of course they will still be favourites to win. But if they did lose then a serious question will be asked, ‘are Liverpool losing their bottle?’ It has happened before and manager Jurgen Klopp will have to field a strong side and get the victory over Wolves- that match does not take place until Monday.

In the league Liverpool’s next games are against the likes of Brighton, Crystal Palace and Leicester and the last two games are at home. These are all winnable games for the club, but at the same time, you never quite know in regards to the Premier League.

It seems that February will be a big month for Liverpool where towards the end of it they will have to play Bayern Munich in the Champions League and then follow that up with an away match against Manchester United who have been in terrific form, and the Merseyside derby follows just a week after that.

There is all to play for and of course Manchester City and Tottenham will have to keep winning too, but Liverpool are under real pressure again to produce the goods when it matters. That is how hard it is to win the Premier League nowadays.

 

 

Manchester City and Liverpool clash was a great spectacle for the Premier League

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Manchester City, the current Premier League champions beat Liverpool the team in first place by 2-1 in a quite enthralling game of football which proved what we already know, the Premier League is the best league in Europe if not the world.

The intensity of the match lasted the whole 90 minutes as both teams instead of playing cautious went for the win. In truth City needed too as they were 7 points behind Liverpool coming into this game. But no one settled, ever. When City were 1-0 up they didn’t retreat to defence. When at 1-1 Liverpool did not fold their cards and think if it stays a draw this is a good result, which it would have been. No both teams went for the 3 points and one ended up getting it.

The goals were special too, including a seemingly impossible angle for Sergio Aguero which just underlines the player as one of the best Premier League strikers of all time. But it was a game full of chances, pressure, skill, magic and heartbreak and this is what the Premier League wants to advertise.

For many years the league has been touted, mostly within England, as the best league in Europe. Of course bias comes to mind when we think of that, but it does seem to be truthful in 2018.

Yes the Premier League doesn’t boast the very best players who have scooped up awards in the past few years and there hasn’t been an English club who has won the Champions League since 2012 when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich. However what league gives us such competitive football?

In Spain Barcelona have been made to work harder this year and Real Madrid have lost Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo so are experiencing a tougher season than usual, but you get the feeling the cream will rise to the top. In Italy Juventus are in the lead by over 10 points and still have not lost. But in England everything remains open- the league winner, a top 4 place and relegation, nothing is certain.

It is also the fact that every team can beat anyone. Witness Manchester City losing to Crystal Palace and Leicester. Or Tottenham so solid this season collapsing against Wolves, it happens. And it is what makes the Premier League so exciting to watch.

If we want to spend the day picking up the mistakes in the league from strikers missing good opportunities to defenders making silly decisions, that happens too- I would hazard a bet it happens in every league. But even if it does happen more in England, so what? What does it matter when the league is this competitive and exciting.

It is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

 

Pep Guardiola faces huge test of his career after Manchester City go into meltdown

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Here comes the big test for Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, a man who has usually got his own way when it comes to coaching teams to league titles. But he has found this task rather difficult since coming to England.

Winning the league this season suddenly looks distant after his side lost their 3rd game in 4 matches after losing and imploding against Leicester 2-1. That game saw Fabian Delph sent off and now there are question marks over City’s all conquering side.

City have now fallen 7 points behind Liverpool in the race for the league and have even dropped to 3rd place as Tottenham have overtaken them. Whilst this makes the league interesting to watch there has to be question marks over Guardiola’s management skills.

Last season City played out the greatest ever performance by a team in the Premier League where they amassed 100 points losing just 2 games and finishing 19 points ahead of 2nd placed Manchester United. This was a fantastic season for the team where Guardiola’s team clicked. But if his side were not to win the league this season and we look at his debut season in England where he failed to win the league, is winning one league from 3 seasons after spending £500m on players deemed a success or failure?

Simply put it has been a shocking few weeks for City and Guardiola has now talked about changing the dynamic of the team, but what has gone wrong for the club? Is it a coincidence for example that their form has dipped in line with David Silva’s absence. And given the quality of players that they have why should having one player albeit an influential one make such a difference?

After the teams latest defeat at Leicester Guardiola said: “As soon as possible we have to try to win again for our mood, our confidence and our desire. You have to be confident to play and to come back. I have to reflect and think about what the team needs and how to help them. That is what I am concerned about right now what I have to do to help them come back playing the way they want to play, to move something and try to win again.”

Guardiola will have to prove his worth as one of the best coaches in the world in the coming weeks and get his championship winning team back to winning ways. City’s next three games in the league are; Southampton (away), Liverpool (home) and Wolves (home). The Wolves game seems the most straight forward, but the club will have two very matches coming up. Southampton have looked like a different team since their new coach took over and have already beaten Arsenal at home a few weeks ago.

Then of course there is league leaders Liverpool who could, with a win, go 10 points clear of City. That is the big game and if City can play like champions and prove their worth they could bring the gap down to just 4 points. There is all still to play for, but right now there is judgment and pressure on Guardiola to turn the last few games around.