Manchester City rampant as they climb above Liverpool

Sergio aguero

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

Violence, racism and shame- Serie A is light years away from the glory days

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There are people of a certain age who still fondly remember when the best players in the world played all over Italy’s Serie A and the league was filled with the greatest players showboating the greatest of skills in magnificent stadiums and where money to buy these players seemed like a pot that had no limits.

Serie A gave us the great AC Milan team who dominated football domestically and in Europe for a good 6 years. Up until Real Madrid won back to back Champions League in 2017 Milan had been the last team to so making that feat in 1990, for a record that had stood for 27 years. That great side that boasted the likes of Paolo Maldini, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and the incomparable Marco van Basten were simply breath-taking.

But other teams such as Napoli with Diego Maradona no less also made waves and teams would regularly reach European finals. It all seemed to go wrong in Serie A by the late 1990s heading into the early 2000s when the Spanish league took off with the emergence of the great teams Real Madrid and then Barcelona. Italy have still had their say, look at Inter Milan’s win in the Champions League in 2010 and Juventus have reached a few finals since. But Serie A seems to have been left back almost in a time that the footballing world have forgot.

Violence, hooliganism, stadiums falling apart, racism and deaths. Sadly a death occurred on Boxing Day when Serie A returned to playing one day after Christmas for the first time in almost 40 years. These situations used to happen in England but when one sees how things have changed in the Premier League then despite the commercialisation of it and the oft used words gravy train something very positive has come out of it all.

That isn’t to say that racism is not in England, Raheem Sterling and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang can verify that isn’t the case, but there has been a huge improvement. Sadly in 2018 Italian football seems rather like England was in the early 1980s, where violence seems to be brewing in each game. The edginess for some may feel more exciting than in the Premier League for example but that excitement is evaporated when lives are at risk all over a game of football.

Serie A is continually letting itself down and sponsors, well at least the main ones will not want to back the league. Italian football will hopefully rise once more but just now and for a good few years it feels as if it is stuck in some time warp. A sweeping change is needed and needed fast because it feels all rather embarrassing right now.

 

EPL Best XI – Leroy Sane leads the way

Leroy Sane

The 13th weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Manchester City and Liverpool maintain their unbeaten starts, while Chelsea suffered their first defeat of the campaign at the hands of Tottenham. Let’s take a look at the top points scorers from the weekend’s games…

GK: Jonas Lossl, Huddersfield – seven points
Jonas Lossl kept his third clean sheet of the season as Huddersfield won 2-0 away at Wolves on Sunday. The Dane now has 14 points from his last three games.

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Back to business for Manchester City

For the mess that Manchester City have been in off the pitch with these Football Leaks allegations, it was business as usual for Pep Guardiola’s team on Saturday afternoon after they made West Ham United look like a Championship club. David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané had the Premier League champions 3-0 up inside 35 minutes before the latter added a second in second-half stoppage time.

For the fans of Manchester City, it was a sense of relief. With an international break last weekend, the last two weeks have been torturous for City fans following allegations by Football Leaks suggesting that the club may have conducted itself dishonestly or sought to illegitimately evade financial fair play (FFP) rules, with UEFA officials now examining these allegations before a likely investigation.

These allegations made by German outlet Der Spiegel suggest that Manchester City had tried to cheat FFP rules by City selling image rights of players to a company, Fordham Sports Management, to lower their wage bill. Whether this is true or not, it could be damaging to Manchester City while the consequences could well be severe. Manchester City aren’t the only club involved in these Football Leaks but with the eye of the world watching, Guardiola would have been keen to not let it affect his team.

Their performance against West Ham United on Saturday afternoon suggests that normality has remained on the pitch with Guardiola’s side now two points clear ahead of closest challengers Liverpool following their 4-0 win in London. And while the score line may suggest City were in top form, it certainly wasn’t their best performance with West Ham under par, as has often been the case this season. As one of two remaining undefeated teams, Pep Guardiola’s task will be to keep his players focussed with an important Champions League fixture coming up.

Despite that, Manchester City have scored 21 goals in the first-half of Premier League games this season, more than Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and 13 other clubs have in total, per Manchester Evening News journalist Simon Bajkowski. But while it’s an impressive stat, it still won’t be good enough for Pep Guardiola who rightly always wants more from his players.

“I give a lot of credit to our players for the victory, but it was not the best performance. I think we got a bit lucky. West Ham had a lot of chances and should have scored. But we will have more chances to be a lot better,” Guardiola said in his post-match press conference.

“We are consistent and we are a humble team, today we wasn’t so good but I love the way we run. The Premier League remains tough and we cannot deny this. I didn’t expect after what we achieved last season to have these results.”

Raheem Sterling integral to Manchester City’s season

One of those players that Pep Guardiola wants more of is perhaps Raheem Sterling, despite his impressive stats. Frustrating for England, Pep Guardiola has moulded the 23-year-old into one of the best players in the Premier League. In 44 Premier League fixtures, Sterling has 25 goals and 18 assists but Guardiola surely believes that the youngster can still do better. And maybe that’s just one reason why Manchester City have just extended the contract of Sterling until 2023, worth a potential £300,000 per week.

The understanding that Raheem Sterling has with both Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sané shares the same characteristics as that of Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi of Guardiola’s Barcelona side in 2009. And although Pep Guardiola has distanced himself from his time at Barcelona, this Manchester City side certainly shares the same philosophy to some degree.

Whether they retain their Premier League title this season, this Manchester City squad is frightening and will no doubt go down as one of the greatest teams in European history. Of course, winning the Champions League is the goal for everyone involved with the club, it’s the trophy that’s eluded them while many suggest winning the European competition eclipses that of winning another Premier League title.

They have the players, the staff and the backing to do so but it will be up to Pep Guardiola to guide them to a Champions League final, something they’ve yet to do.

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Time to lay off of Raheem Sterling

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Pep Guardiola pitched things just right.

“He made a mistake because he’s 23 years old.”

It was in reference to Raheem Sterling’s trip which ended up being given as a penalty by referee Viktor Kassai in Manchester City’s Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk.

The controversial incident was not of the player’s doing, however, social media and some online media outlets used it as yet another stick to proverbially beat him with. Continue reading

Raheem Sterling can become a Premier League great

Raheem Sterling

Putting pen-to-paper on a new bumper contract reportedly worth up to £300,000 per week, it’s hard to imagine that Raheem Sterling is just 23. Joining Manchester City from Liverpool back in 2015 for an initial £44 million, the England international has showcased that he has what it takes to potentially become a future Ballon d’Or winner. Now, there are probably people out there suggesting that he’s a long way off, but Sterling has shown time and again that’s he’s one of City’s most influential players under Pep Guardiola. Continue reading

‘Farewell’ for Rooney is pathetic

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There was a time when earning an England cap really meant something.

It was the absolute pinnacle of every player’s career, and a responsibility that each took seriously.

The difficulty of consistently finding oneself in the senior set-up was obvious by the lack of players that had managed to amass anywhere close to 100 caps, let alone exceed that number.

In the recent past, the handing out of caps has become more and more contentious, but none more so that the most recent; a 120th appearance for Wayne Rooney, two years after his last game for his country. Continue reading

EPL Best XI – Sterling stars again

Raheem Sterling

The 11th weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea maintain their unbeaten starts, while Manchester United came from behind to beat Bournemouth. Let’s take a look at the top EFL Fantasy points scorers from the weekend’s games…

GK: Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester – seven points
Kasper Schmeichel kept a clean sheet during an emotional 1-0 victory for Leicester at Cardiff. The Dane’s seven-point reward sees him move on to four points for the season.

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Harry Kane; Not just a target man

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Ever since Harry Kane burst onto the scene, he’s been labelled as a ‘traditional’ English centre-forward. A target man.

You know the type. Strong, aggressive, puts himself about a bit, gets on the end of crosses and decent hold up play.

All the ingredients, in fact, one needs to thrive in what is the most physically demanding football league in the world – the Premier League.

However, such a ‘one dimensional’ description does the Tottenham Hotspur man no real favours. Continue reading

EPL Weekend Picks – Round 8

Eden Hazard

The eighth week of the 2018-19 Premier League season features the biggest game of the campaign so far, Liverpool v Manchester City, while Manchester United host Newcastle. Let’s take a look at 11 players who you should consider adding to your EPL Fantasy team before the weekend.

GK – Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Rui Patricio has picked up an incredible 17 points this season — Ederson, Allison and Kepa Arrizabalaga are the only goalkeepers with more — and he could easily add to that tally in upcoming matches against Crystal Palace, Watford and Brighton.

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