Manchester City have been absolutely fantastic this season after they failed to pick up any silverware last term, the first time Pep Guardiola has gone a whole season as manager without winning a trophy of some description.
It looked like the Premier League leaders would become the second side to complete an invincible campaign but Liverpool ended their hopes of that with a classic 4-3 win.
After the weekend’s action, the Citizens have a 16-point lead over 2nd-placed Manchester United but must make sure they don’t let that slip away.
It is an extremely tough task for any of the Premier League’s top sides if they want to catch the Citizens but they certainly shouldn’t lose hope of closing that substantial gap.
In the two games after losing to Jürgen Klopp’s side, Man City didn’t falter and scored six goals to earn six more points but in the third match, they failed to beat a resilient Burnley unit.
They drew 1-1 which was disappointing after taking the lead from a scorching Danilo strike in the first-half.
The two results against the Clarets and Liverpool have showed that Pep Guardiola hasn’t built a completely bulletproof team.
The two matches that they have dropped points in since the New Year were against very different teams.
Liverpool are sublime going forward but leave a lot to be desired for at the back, while Burnley are an incredibly tight defensive squad with little cutting edge in attack.
The latter relied on an 82nd-minute ‘smash-and-grab’ equaliser while the former overcame City with a furious nine-minute spell in which they scored three goals to put the fixture beyond doubt.
This should give confidence to every other team in the league as a side who aren’t considered by anyone as one of the Premier League’s ‘big teams’ managed to take points from them.
Man City are facing a few tough fixtures in the league as well as some congestion as they are still fighting on four fronts.
Their next four matches are in four different competitions with one in both the FA Cup and the EFL Cup, and their first leg of the last 16 in the Champions League, before a return to Premier League action.
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With four matches in the space of three weeks, including the EFL Cup final and a Champions League match, Manchester City might encounter some injuries and that could be their undoing in the games against Chelsea and Arsenal.
The two London sides have certainly got their problems but the Gunners look like a different animal with a couple of very good January signings while Chelsea can be absolutely fantastic if all of their players are fit and firing, especially Eden Hazard who has been linked with a move to Man City.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side are in an unbelievable position to go on and win their third Premier League title but as their Spanish boss has said, they aren’t over the line yet and still have a lot of work to do over the next 12 matches.
It would be unimaginable for them to let their lead at the top of the table slip but a run of poor results or a bad set of injured players and they could be in a bit of trouble.
However, they are still on for a sublime quadruple and at the end of this month they have the chance to win their first piece of silverware in the EFL Cup final against Arsenal.
Three reasons Burnley’s signing of Joe Hart is fantastic business
The England international joins the Clarets for a very respectable fee.
Here are three reasons why the transfer represents fantastic business for the Clarets, as Burnley will now retain the services of three full England international goalkeepers.
The ex-Manchester City man is a fantastic option amid Burnley’s goalkeeping crisis
Sean Dyche was faced with a pressing goalkeeping crisis after Nick Pope suffered a dislocated shoulder against Aberdeen, with Tom Heaton still recovering from a calf injury. With a severe lack of quality goalkeeping options, Dyche pulled off a fantastic deal by securing the services of Joe Hart for just £3.5 million.
Although the Englishman is coming off a disappointing season with West Ham, to capture such an experienced goalkeeper for a cut-price fee is a laudable feat in today’s transfer market. Even if Hart is second or third choice for most of the season, he is a more than capable stand-in for Pope and Heaton in the coming weeks.
Joe Hart will provide priceless mentorship to his fellow England internationals
With Tom Heaton and Nick Pope already on the books at Turf Moor, the addition of Hart has created a skilled goalkeeping trio at the club. Hart has made 75 Three Lions caps, with Heaton having made three appearances and Pope featuring one time for his country.
The immense experience of Hart will be incredibly useful for his fellow goalkeepers, and Hart can play the role of mentor for both Heaton and Pope. Although Heaton is in fact older than Hart, the ex-City player has nevertheless featured at a higher level than Heaton and can still provide valuable insight.
Eager to get his career back on track, Hart can thrive under Dyche
Joe Hart has endured a tough past two seasons at Manchester City, exiled by Pep Guardiola and shipped out on loan to Torino and West Ham.
Yet, now Hart finally has a permanent home for the next two years, at a minimum, and can get down to business under Sean Dyche and make his case for a starting role.
Under the tough and firm leadership of the Burnley boss, Hart can hopefully regain his confidence and return to his top form when given a chance at Turf Moor.
Who is Daniel Arzani, Celtic’s imminent loan signing?
Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that Celtic are close to sealing a loan signing from Manchester City in the form of 19-year-old Daniel Arzani, though the Australian is yet to officially sign for the Premier League club from Melbourne City.
Sky Sports say that a deal could be tied up imminently as Rodgers admitted the news after opening their Scottish Premier League campaign with a 3-1 win over Livingston.
“He is, I believe, finalising his deal with Manchester City and in talks with ourselves to come in, as a possibility. He is another exciting young talent and we will see if we can get that organised in the next few days. It is not going to be (before) midweek. He has just flown in, he hasn’t trained. He has obviously been at the World Cup so he will need to be in for a couple of weeks before he gets up to speed.”
Where does he play?
Arzani can play on either flank, though he does tend to prefer the left side. His versatility will be crucial for Rodgers and Celtic and provide an exciting new option within the squad.
What’s his style of play?
An exciting, traditional winger, Arzani loves to bomb forward down the flank with pace and flare. At times, he can drift inside and look to threaten, but on the whole he looks to create opportunities from out wide.
What experience does he have?
Not a lot, but despite having only played 24 games at first team level, Arzani can boast five international caps for Australia including three at the World Cup as he was used as a substitute in all three of his nation’s matches. With two goals for his club and one for his country, alongside three assists at club level, he is not prolific but does present a threat.
Manchester City 2018/19 preview: Phil Foden, fatigue and the search for perfection
After a historic Premier League title-winning campaign last season, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will look be looking to defend their crown when the top flight action returns.
Ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, we caught up with fan site City Watch to get the low-down on progress made on and off the pitch…
What do you make of your club’s pre-season preparations, both on and off the pitch?
I don’t think they’ve been ideal to be honest.
Like most the top clubs we have been affected by the World Cup meaning almost most of our starting lineup have missed the pre-season tour and will get back less than three weeks before the first game.
Having said that, it has been a great opportunity for some of our youngsters to go out and impress the manager and I believe that will be vital in their development.
Which of your club’s summer signing has you most excited about the new campaign?
Riyad Mahrez is the only real high profile signing we’ve made but im excited to see him in action. He looked sharp in pre-season and obviously he was fantastic for Leicester.
Benjamin Mendy will also feel like a new signing having missed most of last season and it will also be interesting to see if Claudio Gomes (former Paris Saint Germain under 18s captain) gets any game time with City not signing another midfielder.
Who’s your club’s young-player-who-could-make-a-breakthrough this season?
The obvious player would be Phil Foden. He got some game time last season and will be looking to develop on that. Guardiola also talks very highly of him.
As mentioned before, Claudio Gomes could have a slight chance and young central defender Eric Garcia had a really good pre-season. However, chances of first team action might be few and far between this season.
What will be your club’s biggest factor behind achieving its targets this season?
Consistency. It will be extremely difficult to reach the heights of last season. Becoming centurions and only losing two league games was an incredible achievement.
If we can with the same consistency and the same level next season, while taking that confidence into the Champions League, then our targets are very achievable.
What will be your club’s biggest barrier to achieving its targets this season?
Fatigue could play a part, especially with the high press style of play and challenging on four fronts.
I don’t ever question the desire of our players but retaining the title hasn’t been achieved in over ten years so ensuring the levels of performance are maintained will be a challenge.
We seem to be unfortunate with injuries, too, so hopefully all our players can stay fit for as much of the season as possible.
Which club outside yours do you think has done the best business this summer?
I think Liverpool have done great business. They have bought in the areas they needed to strengthen and could be a real threat next season.
Meanwhile, Fulham, West Ham and Wolves have also done great business and all could challenge for a top ten place.
If you had to pick a six-a-side team from your club’s current squad, who would be in it?
Finally, how do you think your team will have done come the end of the 2018/19 season?
It’s hard not be confident after the season just gone. I believe we will win at least two trophies, although I’m not going to predict which two that will be.
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