Man City fixtures: Next six games after narrow Crystal Palace win
Pep Guardiola emitted a deep exhale after the realisation that his team would be treated to a rare free week before travelling to Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park.
The rest ultimately served Guardiola’s side well as City returned to action with a 1-0 victory in south London. However, the reigning champions had to rely upon a second-half penalty from Erling Haaland to get over the line and shrink the gap up to Arsenal at the Premier League summit.
Any future free weeks depend on City’s success in the Champions League and FA Cup. However, here’s what lies ahead for Guardiola’s side as things stand.
Guardiola was so concerned about the threat RB Leipzig offered in transition that City almost lapsed into a caricature of their possession-obsession selves in the first leg.
It worked up to a point as Leipzig didn’t attempt their first shot of the contest until first-half stoppage time but sloppiness crept into City’s game after the interval, giving Josko Gvardiol – ironically nicknamed Pep because of their similar surnames – the chance to cancel out Riyad Mahrez’s opener from a second-half corner.
Without the complication of away goals, it’s winner-takes-all at the Etihad in midweek.
Not many opposition managers have the luxury of taking their team to an away ground which has a statue of themselves sitting outside. But that is the fate that awaits Vincent Kompany when Burnley travel to the Etihad in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Clarets are flying high at the top of the Championship, playing possession-based football which serves as a stark contrast to the approach Sean Dyche espoused for so many years (with great success it should be stressed).
While Mikel Arteta is currently getting the better of Guardiola in the Premier League, can the Catalan fend off another one of his disciples?
Only one manager has racked up more than seven career wins against Guardiola throughout his senior management career. Jurgen Klopp has beaten him 12 times.
Klopp has achieved two of those victories this season alone, steering Liverpool to a Community Shield win against City all the way back in July as well as a Premier League triumph at Anfield in October. That league win threatened to reignite Liverpool’s title charge but the Reds will limp into this contest after the March international break embroiled in a scrap for fourth – though that’s not to say that Klopp can’t add to his winning tally.
One of the few nights that Southampton lived up to the lofty billing which Nathan Jones gave himself came against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup. Guardiola conceded that his side had been comfortably outplayed. “The best team won,” he shrugged. “They were better.”
Jones, of course, is no longer in the St Mary’s dugout – although, his replacement Ruben Selles recorded more Premier League wins in his first three games (two) than Jones managed throughout his entire tenure (one).
Less than three years ago, Leicester became the first team to ever score as many as five league goals against a side managed by Guardiola away from home. It may not seem like an awfully long time ago but the fact that Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick that day adds some temporal perspective.
The veteran Vardy has mustered just one Premier League goal in a poor individual season amid a disappointing collective campaign for the Foxes. However, City had to rely upon a stunning Kevin De Bruyne free-kick to nudge themselves ahead of Leicester when the sides played out an even contest at the King Power Stadium.
A month before Roberto De Zerbi was appointed as Brighton’s manager, the Italian tactician was pictured dining alongside Guardiola. There is a deep mutual respect between the pair with Guardiola insisting: “His impact in England will be massive.”
When they faced each other for the first time in October, De Zerbi’s Brighton lost 3-1 but caused their hosts a myriad of problems and limited City to just 48% possession. It is the only time Guardiola’s side have had less of the ball at the Etihad this season. Strap in for another enthralling watch in April.
Jonas Eidevall hails dominant Stina Blackstenius performance in north London derby victory
Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall has heaped praise on forward Stina Blackstenius after her sensational showing in Saturday’s 5-1 victory over Tottenham.
The Swede opened the scoring after just a few minutes and continued to lead the line with real dominance all game, creating plenty of chances for those around her in what turned out to be a comfortable victory.
Blackstenius’ performance did not go unnoticed by Eidevall, who took the time to praise the forward after the game.
“Every game poses different challenges, but Stina gave exactly what we needed at the start of the game by posing a threat from balls in-behind against a very compact Spurs’ team,” Eidevall told Sky Sports.
“I think it was very nice to see her take the first finish on her first touch when she first spots the goalkeeper a little bit out of position.”
On the wider performance, Eidevall continued: “I was very pleased with the performance. There are still some aspects of our game we need to get better at compared to the first half. I think our players were brilliant and were very well positioned in the second half. I think we could have controlled the game right from the start.
“I think it starts with the way we attack. We were well positioned. I think we constantly overloaded them out in the wide areas and set up players that can play forward with the ball. We are good at arriving into the box with pace. In the first half and the last ten minutes, we got a little bit complacent and a bit of standing still which suits Spurs’ really well. We didn’t get into that trap in the second-half and that was pleasing.”
The win keeps Arsenal in the WSL title race, moving the Gunners up to 35 points, two behind leaders Chelsea having played a game more.
Emma Hayes’ Blues are in action on Sunday against fellow title hopefuls Manchester City, who can blow the title race wide open with a win.
Why do Liverpool fans boo the England national anthem?
Few managers of the modern era have developed a bond with their club’s fanbase as strong as the link between Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.
A rapidly stacked trophy cabinet has obviously helped Klopp win over Merseyside but the humble and honest German coach has forged such a deep connection with the people of Liverpool by taking time to understand the history and beliefs of the city.
However, even Klopp was left a little perplexed by the deafening swell of boos which his supporters delivered in response to the English national anthem ahead of the 2022 FA Cup final.
“I know our people that well that they wouldn’t do it if there was no reason for it,” Klopp reasoned, before admitting: “And I’m not here surely not long enough to understand the reason for it.”
Don’t worry, Jurgen, we’ve got you covered.
As a port city which has welcomed countless immigrants over the years, many Liverpudlians have an ancestral reason to not consider themselves English. The xenophobia and racism which remains a plague on these shores are not exactly a set of welcoming, open arms.
The term ‘Scouse’, which is a traditional stew, was originally used as a derogatory term for Irish immigrants that could only afford to frequent soup kitchens. But the city’s inhabitants have harnessed the slur and the sense of otherness it was meant to hold.
Engraved in in the wall of the Museum of Liverpool is a quote from the former Gronby councillor Margaret Simey in 1999 which reads: “The magic of Liverpool is that it isn’t England.”
Liverpool’s port points west, which was particularly unhelpful during the 1980s when trade with Europe on the other side of the Isles was being prioritised. Naturally, this only stoked the flames of a dire relationship between Liverpool and the British government.
“Never Trust A Tory” is another common banner which can been seen circulating the Liverpool end on trips to Wembley.
This distrust has only festered over the last decade of Conservative rule. Labour – the more left-wing opposition in England to the Conservatives – have not had a prime minister in power since Gordon Brown in 2010.
Unlike the rest of the country, Liverpool have not given in to the blue invasion. The Labour Party has received more than 50% of the city’s votes in every general election between 1992 and 2019.
This unwavering favouring of Labour came immediately after Margaret Thatcher’s unpopular reign as Conservative party leader and prime minister. Thatcher’s Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe argued that Liverpool should be left to “managed decline”, as revealed by cabinet papers from the era which fed the distrust of that regime on Merseyside. In the wake of the Toxteth Riots, Howe urged Thatcher “not to over-commit scarce resources to Liverpool”.
The Conservatives and Thatcher were also in power at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and their handling of the situation, over a course of a decades-long quest for justice, also enraged a wounded city and its people.
The Tory hatred wasn’t always so suffocating. When the Iron Lady became prime minister in 1979, Sir Malcolm Thornton was first elected as Conservative MP for Liverpool Garston.
However, the distrust very much extends to the modern era as Boris Johnson, when prime minister, was asked to apologise for publishing an article in the Spectator which accused Liverpudlians of “wallowing” in their “victim status” while he was the publication’s editor in 2004. Shockingly, he did not offer a sorry amid his blustering response.
At Liverpool’s first FA Cup final triumph in 1965, the travelling Merseyside support belted out “God Save Our Gracious Team”. For many reasons, Liverpool fans have opted for a blunter approach over the subsequent years.
Reece James withdraws from England squad due to ‘ongoing issue’
Reece James has left the England camp and returned to Chelsea due to an ‘ongoing issue’.
The right-back was expected to start Sunday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley after Kyle Walker played all 90 minutes of Thursday’s 2-1 win away at Italy. But James has failed to prove his fitness and will reconvene with Chelsea at their Cobham training base.
A statement from England read: “Reece James has withdrawn from the England squad and will not feature against Ukraine on Sunday.
“The full-back has returned to Chelsea for assessment on an ongoing issue.
“No replacements are planned as Gareth Southgate’s squad, including the suspended Luke Shaw, continue their preparations at Tottenham Hotspur Training Ground.”
Though James’ fitness record is patchy and he was suffering with a hamstring injury earlier this month, he joined up with the England squad this week having played 90 minutes in two of Chelsea’s final three games before the international break and was expected to be fit and healthy.
He came on as an 85th-minute substitute on Thursday for Bukayo Saka as 10-man England sought to hold onto their lead.
James missed England’s 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign after sustaining a knee injury in the autumn.
Chelsea will be hoping that James’ problem isn’t serious ahead of a busy month that sees them face the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Real Madrid.
James has already missed 17 games for Chelsea this season – 15 for his knee problem, one for a hamstring issue and one because of illness.
Prior to this season, James has been reported as to having nine other injuries during his time in the Chelsea senior setup, missing a total of 51 matches for the Blues.
On this edition of Son of Chelsea, part of the 90min podcast network, Daniel Childs reviews Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Everton & Graham Potter’s performance. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
Man Utd 4-0 West Ham
Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid – Liga F: Player ratings as Rolfo penalty wins tight Clasico
Folarin Balogun makes admission over Arsenal future
Best site to watch football live (Free and premium)
Best app to buy sports tickets 2022
10 Footballers who went to university during their careers
Sportvectru on it7 days ago
NBA 2k23 NBA League Pass – How to fix problems
Champions League1 week ago
Official: Burna Boy set to perform live at Champions League final
Football1 week ago
Victor Osimhen reveals his striker idol
Football1 week ago
Dele Alli ‘banished’ from Besiktas squad until end of season
AFCON1 week ago
CONFIRMED: Super Eagles 23-man squad for 2023 AFCON qualifier