Manchester City extended their winning streak to 16 matches as Raheem Sterling scored twice in a 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. City outclassed Spurs with another dominant display that had all the hallmarks of Premier League champions.
Ilkay Gundogan, replacing the unavailable David Silva, was left unmarked to head in the opener in the early skirmishes before the irrepressible Kevin de Bruyne doubled City’s lead on 70 minutes. Sterling added a late brace – taking his season’s total to 11 – before Christian Eriksen netted a consolation in stoppage-time.
City, at least temporarily, stretched their lead at the top of the table to 14 points, while Tottenham slipped to seventh. Here are three talking points as the goals rained down at the Etihad…
Record-breaking City are unstoppable
This game had been billed as a serious threat to City’s recent record, but in truth it was another mismatch. Spurs never got a foothold on proceedings and were always chasing the game once Gundogan had scored on 20 minutes. It was one they were never going to win.
Pep Guardiola’s charges simply had too much flair and guile for the visitors to handle. There is no shame in being thrashed by City, although some of the goals they conceded will have alarmed Mauricio Pochettino. The Premier League leaders are so rampant that even the most stubborn and defensively organised teams eventually succumb.
Now it is not a question of if the Cityzens will win the title, but when. It could be by a record margin. With very few weaknesses and a patented brand of football that is joyful to watch, there is an argument that they are the best team in Europe, not just England.
City will be crowned Premier League champions – and who would bet against them racking up more than 100 points in the process?
De Bruyne shines despite David Silva’s absence
When the team-sheets revealed Silva was missing, Spurs supporters probably breathed a sigh of relief. But if they had forgotten about de Bruyne, they were soon reminded he is one of the best footballers in Europe.
The Belgian has been mesmerising this season and boss Guardiola waxed lyrically about him in his post-match interviews. Guardiola can take a lot of credit for improving a player who was already close to world-class. It is his coaching that has now placed de Bruyne firmly in that category.
If anything summed up his performance against Spurs, it was in the build-up to City’s second goal. De Bruyne had been caught late by a rash challenge from Dele Alli. But justice was served when the playmaker fired an unstoppable left-footed shot past Hugo Lloris moments later, which effectively ended the contest.
It was fitting reward for a footballing masterclass from de Bruyne.
Alli’s poor form is indicative of Spurs’ struggles
Whereas de Bruyne continues to illuminate the Premier League, the contrast with Dele Alli could not be greater. Both players are undoubtedly hugely talented, but while the Belgian’s game has kicked on, the same cannot be said of his English counterpart.
Alli was in sparkling form last season, but this campaign has been a disappointing one for the former MK Dons midfielder and is emblematic of Tottenham’s struggles.
Alli has long been dogged by discipline issues and that reputation was only enhanced against City. As mentioned above, he was fortunate not to receive a red card for a poor challenge on de Bruyne in the build-up to the hosts’ second goal. It was late and on another day it could have caused lasting damage to the Belgian’s ankle.
Perhaps it was borne out of frustration at another disappointing display against a top-six team. But it is something Alli must address because his questionable temperament flares up too often and undermines his ability.
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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