Premier League Game of the Week: Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City

Manchester City are back and against Chelsea they went back to 2019 producing some glittering football that made the club under Pep Guardiola the envy of so many other European teams.

City beat Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge and the result felt like a statement. With Liverpool losing 1-0 at Southampton the Premier League title has been blown wide open and if City win their 2 games in hand over the Reds they would go past them, this is in stark contrast six weeks ago when it looked like City were going through the motions- well they have improved and they started in sixth gear against a stunned Chelsea side.

In 16 first half minutes Chelsea were left shell shocked as Manchester City scored 3 goals. The opener came from Ilkay Gundogan after Phil Foden set him up Gundogan still had a lot to do on the edge of the box, a neat flick behind his body set him up to score a brilliant goal and put the visitors in the lead.

A few minutes later Phil Foden made it 2-0 with a simple tap in and Chelsea were in real trouble and had no fans to help them on. A blistering City counter attack set up the third goal with the ball eventually falling to Kevin De Bruyne surely the player of the match and he scored a rather simple goal in the end. For a game that was built up so much, it was in effect a closed contest by the first half.

It was also a first half that saw Chelsea have just 1 shot on target and even though the clubs shared possession City managed 4 shots on target. In the second half the game could have gone either way; City to add more goals, or City to take their feet off the pedals and the visitors slowed down their game.

It didn’t matter Chelsea played punch drunk and only managed 1 shot on target in the 2nd half even though they did pull a goal back. But there was virtually no threat or danger from the home side whose consolation goal didn’t come until injury time. Callum Hudson-Odoi scored the goal for Chelsea another tap in, and in all fairness this was a game of tap in goals.

Whilst the goal did nothing for Chelsea on a personal note Hudson-Odoi would have been happy to score after his recent injury lay off and he will be hoping that he can start firing in the goals again.

The defeat leaves Chelsea in 9th place with 26 points, and they are seven behind Liverpool and three points from a top 4 place. It isn’t the end of the line for the club, but at the same time they are going through poor form. The Premier League takes a week’s break now and Chelsea’s next game will be against Fulham away from home. On paper it looks like 3 points but that is a local derby and anything can happen in those games.

As for Manchester City they have won 3 games in a row now and look like a team with a purpose. Their next game is at home to Brighton and few will be going against Pep Guardiola’s team in that game.

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Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood and Harry Maguire have embarrassed England and Gareth Southgate has a huge job on his hands

Nothing has changed from the England mental attitude of the 1970s, 80s, or 90s, and this is something that current manager Gareth Southgate learned in the most direct way in the past few weeks.

Players that are supposed to be upstanding professionals have let themselves down and let football down, and let Southgate down. So much so that even some sections of the press are wondering if Southgate is up to the job. Here is the man that led a very average England side to the semi-finals of the World Cup and the Nations League in its first edition. There is a lot of potential in this England side but Southgate ultimately might never get the chance to realise it, but he is not the major problem. The players are.

Not every player of course, but once one player makes off the pitch mistakes it just seeps into the squad. A laugh here, a jibe there. Harry Maguire the captain of the national side getting involved in a reported punch up in Greece with police, Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood arranging for two women to join them in a hotel, it all just harks back to tabloid heaven from the 1990s.

You don’t see continental and international players keep getting themselves in the headlines for the wrong reasons, scandal after scandal seems to follow England and football, if it isn’t the fans it’s the players- and they are supposed to be the role models.

Southgate has tried to play down what Foden and Greenwood did, and true they are young, 38 years between them, they will hopefully learn. But still. The problem that Southgate has is that they are two very good players and are important to the England set up. They will miss perhaps one game, like they did yesterday, the Denmark one.But Southgate should write them off for the next 3 games at least- punish them properly make them really think about what they have done.

Young players will make mistakes but it also showed a lack of respect for preparation for the Denmark game. Do they not care about the UEFA Nations League or representing their country? Would they have tried the same on had this been a knock out World Cup game?

Scandals followed the England team even when Southgate was a player, as a manager he is trying to advance the team and put them in a more professional light. But Maguire, Foden and Greenwood have sent his plans hurtling back to the drawing board faster than a janitor hitting the ground after being punched by the Rock. His plans are in tatters, and one suspects after next summers Euro’s Southgate could be departing early, sadly little has changed within the England set up, even on the surface that doesn’t look like the case, it seems as if the problems are very deep rooted.

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Phil Foden must demand more game time from Pep Guardiola

Phil Foden was given the grand total of one minute of game time at the end of Manchester City’s Champions League group stage game against Dinamo Zagreb, but that’s all he required to make an impression, finding the net to cap a comfortable, if uninspiring, win on Tuesday night.

The 19-year-old must have felt a burning sense of vindication. Foden has found himself on the peripheries of the City first team so far this season, making just one substitute cameo in eight Premier League games. In fact, his only start this season came in the Carabao Cup win over Preston North End.

After the Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb, Guardiola was keen to apologise to Foden for not giving him more time on the pitch. “He deserves to play. I want to give him minutes. Every time I don’t play him, I am in front of him saying I’m sorry,” said the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.

“But it’s Kevin de Bruyne there, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, I’m so sorry. I know the best way to grow up is to play minutes, but he’s so young. I don’t know how many players that age play have played more minutes in the recent past, the minutes he has played the last season with us, but he’s going to be an incredible player for us in the future. We trust in him a lot. But it is what it is.”

But Guardiola needs to stop apologising to Foden and start giving him the game time he deserves. This is a player who has been billed as a one in a generation talent. A player Guardiola has gushed about time and time again. But the Catalan’s team selections paint a very different picture.

It’s time for Foden to start demanding first team football or start plotting a route out of the Etihad Stadium. Now 19 years old, the midfielder must start developing week-on-week. Guardiola has previously said that he wants Foden to be more vocal, to find his voice. Well, now is the time for the teenager to knock on the manager’s door.

There is no denying Foden’s talent and there is some weight in the theory that he is in the best possible place for his development. He is a City academy product and Guardiola has a track record in bringing through players of his type. But that theory falls down if he’s only being given next to no game time.

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The Three Lions from different backgrounds ushering in England’s new era

Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount were all included in Gareth Southgate’s recent Nations League squad and all three have taken unique routes to get there. They are the first set of players coming from the academy set-up that threaten to overshadow the wonderful era of Gerrard and Lampard and could well usher in an exciting period for our international team. Continue reading

Etihad Stadium’s Expansion: Worth it or Futile?

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etihad_stadium09English giants Manchester City have gone from strength to strength since 2008 when the club was acquired by billionaire Sheikh Mansoor with the constant struggle in the initial years’ largely forgotten by the supporters. The same opponents who deemed the prospect of acquiring 3 points against the Citizens as nothing short of a cakewalk earlier now shiver in fear at the prospect of battling it out against Pep Guardiola’s outfit.

This has been largely possible due to the finances pumped in at regular intervals by the owners who have ensured a regular flow of finances through thick and thin. At the same time, there have been astute investments at play as well especially in the transfer market. Manchester City opted to invest in quality acquisitions like Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany during a stage when clubs were increasingly orthodox when it came to pulling off transfer deals with the benefits increasingly evident currently.

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Leroy Sane: the Erratic Genius

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Football has emerged as an extremely lucrative career path over the years with the steady commercialisation of the game. Some of the best footballers ever- Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Franck Ribery, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luka Modric hailed from poverty-stricken families before steadily rising up the ladder, enthralling the world with their brilliance. Such examples have been cited as an immense source of motivation by emerging footballers like Gabriel Jesus who confessed to drawing inspiration from superstar Ronaldinho’s meteoric growth over the years.

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