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Manchester City

How Pep Guardiola’s side rated as Manchester City coasted to a resounding victory over Liverpool



Manchester City

Manchester City ensured that their unbeaten start to the Premier League season remained intact after a Gabriel Jesus double inspired a comfortable victory against ten-man Liverpool at the Etihad.

After a relatively cagey opening to the game it was a moment of quality that broke the deadlock, with Kevin de Bruyne’s defence-splitting ball finding Sergio Aguero to slot the ball into an empty net.

The big talking point came shortly after though when Sadio Mane’s high-challenge on goalkeeper Ederson was deemed dangerous enough for referee Jon Moss to give the Liverpool a straight red.

And the hosts wasted little time in capitalising on their man advantage when Gabriel Jesus – who was denied by the offside flag moments before – headed De Bruyne’s pin-point ball past Simon Mignolet.

Pep Guardiola’s side continued dominating after the break, with Jesus getting his second of the day before substitute Leroy Sane rounded off a convincing victory with two late efforts to make it 5-0.

The home side then comfortably saw out the remainder of the game to move top of the table – momentarily at least – whilst Jurgen Klopp’s side will now reflect on their first defeat of the season.

See below for how Manchester City rated as they eased to three points on Saturday lunch-time.

Ederson – Got down well to thwart Salah early on and keep his side ahead before his afternoon ended prematurely following Mane’s 50/50 challenge, being stretchered off after a long period on the ground. Had been commanding up to that point and Guardiola will hope it’s nothing serious. 6.

Benjamin Mendy – Awarded his home debut and, after a slow start to proceedings, he began to show more confidence attacking down the left-hand side and earnt his assist. Provided some useful cover for Otamendi inside his own half too and, given more top-flight experience, he’ll be a dangerous asset. 7.

John Stones – Nearly made a telling impact at the other end of the pitch when he forced Mignolet into a smart stop with his feet but it was his defensive work that impressed. Stood tall in the heart of City’s three-man defence and barely gave Firmino a sniff – a promising display from the youngster. 8.

Nicolas Otamendi – Was clearly targeted by Liverpool as a weak link in the City side and, following a booking for a rash early challenge on Salah, he was walking a tightrope for 85 minutes. Often dragged out of position, leaving gaps wide open, and it won’t be a game he’ll want to remember. 5.

Danilo – Brought into a make-shift back-three following an injury to captain Vincent Kompany, the Brazilian adjusted well and kept Liverpool’s notorious attacking threat quiet. Mane’s dismissal arguably halved his work-load for the afternoon but he proved that his versatility will be useful this season. 6.

Kyle Walker – Returned to the side after serving his suspension and he immediately looked to get on the front foot and attack the inconsistent Moreno, putting in his trademark lung-busting runs into opposition territory. Had very little to do defensively but had a solid return to top-flight action. 6.

Fernandinho –  Out-muscled his opponent in the air in the build-up to City’s opening goal and he administered a good level of control in the midfield, allowing the visitors very few opportunities to attack down the middle. Has really made his mark on the City side this season with his discipline. 7.

David Silva – The fact that he blended into the background of an excellent City performance shows just how influential De Bruyne was, but his partnership with the Belgian continues to grow on the pitch. Found space regularly as the match went on and kept possession ticking along in midfield. 6.

Kevin de Bruyne – Roamed the opposition third superbly all match and Liverpool simply couldn’t handle him, supplying a sublime through ball to set-up Aguero’s opener before putting the ball on a plate for Jesus to double the lead. Posed a threat whenever he was on the ball and proved to be influential. 9.

Sergio Aguero – Made his return to the starting line-up and continued his excellent recent record against Liverpool inside just half an hour, coolly rounding Mignolet for his 124th Premier League goal. Unselfishly gave the ball to Jesus when clean through to top off an excellent afternoon’s work. 7.

Gabriel Jesus – After being denied by the linesman’s flag he made no mistake second time around, finding himself free in the six-yard box to nod past Mignolet and double the lead just minute before the break. Slotted into a gaping net for his second to secure his third goal of the new campaign. 8.

Claudio Bravo – Wouldn’t have expected to make his first appearance of the season when he woke up but he was called upon following Ederson’s injury. Can’t remember him being forced into action once such was the lack of attacking threat that ten-man Liverpool posed. 6.

Leroy Sane – Given the majority of the second-half to stake a claim for a starting role and he joined the party late on, side-footing the ball into the net before unleashing a simply unstoppable left-foot-strike. 8.

Eliaquim Mangala – Came off the bench late on to replace Otamendi. N/A.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini’s poor China record should give West Ham cause for concern

The Chilean international looks set to join the Hammers.

Max Cohen



Photo: Getty Images

As Manuel Pellegrini inches closer to being named West Ham United’s new manager, many have applauded the potential appointment of a Premier League-winning boss.

With spells at some of the world’s most successful clubs, the Chilean is certainly an impressive acquisition for the Hammers.

Yet Pellegrini’s most recent coaching assignment has been nothing short of mediocre, a sign that should slightly worry West Ham supporters.

Pellegrini officially left Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune on Saturday, after just under two years at the club.

The Chilean was appointed in August 2016 and registered an unspectacular record at the club.

Pellegrini’s first season ended with Hebei in fourth position, yet the club missed out on AFC Champions League qualification by one place.

This year, the team has taken a dramatic step back in the opening months of the season.

(Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images)

Under Pellegrini’s management, Hebei China Fortune currently sit eighth out of the 16-team Chinese Super League.

The side has only picked up just 15 points from 11 matches to date, a disappointing return considering Pellegrini has talents such as Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hernanes, and Gervinho at his disposal.

As the Chinese Super League is a far less important and internationally relevant league than La Liga or the Premier League, Pellegrini can perhaps be forgiven for not taking his job as seriously as his past assignments at Malaga, Real Madrid, and Manchester City.

Yet, his Chinese struggles are worrying nonetheless, as ideally West Ham supporters would like to be acquiring the services of a manager who enjoyed success at his most recent club.

In all, the ex-Manchester City manager still has a Premier League title to his name, a fact that makes his recent tough spell in Asia less concerning.

Nevertheless, Manuel Pellegrini’s underwhelming time at Hebei China Fortune reveals that the manager still possesses flaws and should not be expected to work immediate wonders at West Ham.

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Manchester City

Record-breaking Manchester City show Pep Guardiola was right not to change his philosophy

The Spaniard won his first Premier League title in swashbuckling style.

Martyn Cooke



Photo: Getty Images

When Pep Guardiola was appointed as manager of Manchester City in the summer of 2016 it is fair to say that his arrival was met with a mixed reaction throughout British football.

First, there was obvious excitement throughout the blue half of Manchester. Guardiola was widely regarded one of the best managers of his generation after trophy-laden spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

He was renowned for the exciting, possession-based style of play that he implemented and the team that he built at the Nou Camp at the start of the twenty-first century produced some of the best football of the modern era.

Then there were the sceptics – and there were plenty of them. The comments were predictable and filled with clichés, unevidenced assumptions and meaningless jargon.

It was suggested that Guardiola had only won trophies with clubs where the race for the title was a two-horse race at best and that he had always inherited world-class players.

Furthermore, it was claimed that the Spaniard’s total-football philosophy would never work in the hustle and bustle of English football.

His technical style of play would come unstuck in the so-called ‘best league in the world’ and would not be effective on a cold, wet Tuesday night at places like Stoke City in front of a tribal, raucous home support.

In his debut season with Manchester City some of the negative predictions appeared to be coming true.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Despite winning all of their opening 10 games of the season under Guardiola, City experienced a poor run of form during the Christmas period that left them trailing their title rivals.

The team were unpredictable and inconsistent during the second half of the campaign and heavy defeats against Everton (4-0) and Leicester City (4-2) left many onlookers wondering if Guardiola had finally been sussed.

The Spaniard never shied away from the critics and he staunchly defended his philosophy despite some poor results and vowed that he would not change his style of play.

City finished the season without a trophy and the sceptics went into the summer proclaiming how they had correctly predicted Guardiola’s failure.

What a difference a year can make.

City’s last-gasp victory against Southampton on the final day of the season rounded off what has been a record-breaking campaign in which Guardiola’s team have swept aside all before them in the Premier League.

The list of achievements is remarkable.

City this season have set new records for most consecutive wins (18), most goals scored (105), most wins (32), most away points won (16), most points (100), the biggest goal difference (+79) and the biggest points gap (19).

Suddenly the sceptics are beginning to look incredibly foolish.

In truth, it is hard to remember a campaign in the modern era where one team has been dominant from start to finish in the way that City have been. Furthermore, not only have the won, but they have won with style.

Guardiola’s playing philosophy has clicked over the last twelve months, undoubtedly aided by effective recruitment during the summer, and the team have played with flair, energy, creativity, pace and innovation.

Opponents, barring perhaps Liverpool, have simply not found any way to combat City’s free-flowing football.

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Critics will still point to an early exit in the FA Cup against Wigan Athletic, where City played most of the game with ten men, and defeat in the Champions League to Liverpool, where a poor first half at Anfield effectively ended the tie before it had begun, but the success of Guardiola’s style of play is undoubted.

No one is suggesting that the Spaniard needs to alter his philosophy to meet the demands of the English game anymore.

Instead, it is English football that will need to change in order to meet the challenge of Guardiola’s football revolution.

The concern for other Premier League clubs is that City are threatening to establish themselves as the new dominant force in the domestic game. There is nothing to indicate that Guardiola or the team that he has assembled will be loosening their grip on the Premier League trophy any time soon.

The future is bright. Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, John Stones, Leroy Sane, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Ederson are all under the age of 26. This is a group of players that is still improving and will be hitting the peak years of their career over the next half-a-decade.

Manchester City’s success this season is just the start of what could turn into a period of unrivaled dominance, further underlining that Guardiola was right not to change his philosophy.

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English Premier League

With or without David Moyes, West Ham should target his former player John Stones

West Ham would be wise to swoop on the apparently fragile status of Stones’ Man City career.

Mathew Coull



Back in 2013 then-Everton boss David Moyes secured the signature of a very highly rated young Yorkshireman named John Stones. The Everton manager signed the teenager from Barnsley for a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £3 million.

The same report suggested Everton fended off interest from the likes of Chelsea, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Manchester City and Wigan Athletic to complete the deal.

Soon enough Stones started earning rave reviews among the Everton fanbase but Moyes himself never got much chance to work with the defender. Moyes left Everton for Manchester United just six months after signing Stones. The youngster then went on to become a regular in the Everton and England defence, eventually earning a move to Manchester City – reportedly worth £47.5 million, according to Sky Sports.

(Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

But this summer, should Moyes consider trying to sign Stones once again.

Despite making big improvements to his game at Manchester City, Stones looks like he could leave The Etihad this summer. The champions signed French defender Aymeric Laporte in the winter and Stones currently finds himself fourth-choice centre-back at the club.

In order to continue improving and maintain his place in the England starting XI, the defender needs to be playing regular football. Moyes, now manager at West Ham United, has the opportunity to offer him just that.

Of course, much of this depends on whether West Ham retain Moyes as manager which, according to The Telegraph, looks increasingly unlikely.

Moyes would no doubt be a big lure for Stones if West Ham were to make a move for the player, clearly as a loan deal considering the vast sum necessary to pry him from City.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

But even if Moyes does go, West Ham should try and bring the England man to the London Stadium.

He could offer a brilliant ball-playing option at the back that West Ham fans would greatly appreciate. His experience of playing at a higher level could also be vital for the development of talented Irishman Declan Rice and in a back-three, often West Ham’s recent choice, Stones is a brilliant central defender.

So, with or without Moyes at West Ham, Stones should be on the radar for the London club this summer.

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