Mendy Gives Up On Title Chase, Says City Can Still Thrive

Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy (L) reacts at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on January 18, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola’s side are trailing well behind Liverpool after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace dealt another blow to their faint hopes of catching the runaway leaders.

Hampered by injuries, City have been unable to match the consistency of their past two title-winning seasons.

Guardiola accepted last month his side could no longer catch Liverpool, but City defender Mendy knows there are still three other trophies to play for, including the Champions League, which his team have never won.

City hold a 3-1 League Cup semi-final first leg lead against Manchester United, host Fulham in the FA Cup fourth round next weekend and are due to play Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16.

“When you start the league you try to win, to do your best and you have to say the truth, which is that Liverpool have done very, very well and are a good, strong team – everybody can see that,” Mendy said.

“We deal well with it. When another team is doing well you can’t be upset or angry. This is the truth, no one can complain. So in our dressing room, we try to focus on us.

“All the people say Man City are finished. They can say what they want, we will just keep focusing on us, play our football, win the games, to fight until the league is finished.

“We have seen other teams who have won the title have not reached the Champions League the season after – they were in the Europa League.

“We won our first title, and then won again, and are now we are still second or third. We don’t have the answer for what has happened but every player tries to give everything for the team.”

AFP

Arsenal To Name Man City’s Arteta As New Manager

Manchester City’s assistant coach Mikel Arteta takes warm-up ahead of the English League Cup quarter-final football match between Oxford United and Manchester City at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, west of London, on December 18, 2019. OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP

 

Arsenal are expected to appoint Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta as their new manager in the next 24 hours after postponing Thursday’s scheduled press conference.

Interim boss Freddie Ljungberg was expected to face the media at the club’s training ground at 1:30 pm (1330 GMT) to preview the Gunners’ trip to Everton on Saturday.

The Swede has taken charge of Arsenal since Unai Emery was sacked on November 29, but has overseen just one victory in his five-match tenure.

A 3-0 defeat at home to Manchester City on Sunday left the club seven points off fourth-placed Chelsea and the same number off the bottom three.

It led to the Arsenal hierarchy stepping up their plans to appoint Emery’s successor, with managing director Vinai Venkatesham pictured outside Arteta’s house in the early hours of Monday.

It is understood City are unhappy that Arsenal did not ask for permission to speak to Arteta and are especially annoyed because Pep Guardiola’s side played at the Emirates on Sunday and no approach was made when club officials met.

City, however, do not have an issue with the 37-year-old and will allow him to make his own decision.

Arteta was alongside Guardiola on Wednesday as the Premier League champions won 3-1 at Oxford to reach the League Cup semi-finals.

Guardiola said after the match: “There was no change. I don’t have any news. We prepared the game as best as possible. Before, during and now after and we did it.

“I spoke (Tuesday). My press conference I had 48 questions and 35 were about Mikel so I don’t have to say anything more until there is news. When there is news, in my next (press) conference when you ask me something I will answer.”

Arteta played more than 100 times for Arsenal before retiring in 2016 and is set to take up his first managerial role after three years as Guardiola’s assistant.

AFP

Champions League: Real Madrid To Face Man City In Last 16

 

Real Madrid will face Manchester City in the Champions League round of 16 after the draw held at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon.

The first leg will be played at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium on 18, 19, 25 or 26 February and the return leg in Manchester on 10, 11, 17 or 18 March.

The two matches will be played at 9pm Central European Time.

Manchester City have successfully topped Group C, where they faced Atalanta, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Zagreb.

Undefeated in the competition, they have only drawn two games. With four goals conceded, they have one of the best defensive records in the Group Stage. Sterling (5) is the top scorer for a team that is third in the Premier League.

AFP

Arsenal Fall To Man City At Emirates Stadium

Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy (L) vies with Arsenal’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (C) during the English Premier League football match at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 15, 2019. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

 

Kevin De Bruyne scored twice and teed up Raheem Sterling for Manchester City’s other goal as Arsenal crumbled to another humiliating 3-0 home defeat on Sunday.

The victory sees City close the gap on runaway leaders Liverpool back to 14 points and edge to within four of second-placed Leicester, who they host next weekend.

Arsenal, on the other hand, remain ninth on the back of just one win in their last 12 games in all competitions.

That victory came at West Ham on Monday, but if there was any hope a corner had been turned under caretaker boss Freddie Ljungberg for the Gunners, it was quickly quashed by the brilliant De Bruyne.

READ ALSO: I Am Alive And Bubbling – IBB

Arsenal could have taken the lead even before the Belgian opened the scoring after just 90 seconds.

Gabriel Martinelli retained his place ahead of Alexandre Lacazette after scoring for the first time in the Premier League on Monday and got the better of Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi to muscle his way in on goal before his shot was blocked by Ederson.

City broke straight up the other end and Gabriel Jesus’s low cross picked out De Bruyne to stroke the ball into the roof of the net.

Pep Guardiola’s men had been ruthlessly cut apart on the counter-attack in losing to Manchester United last weekend and were conscious not to make the same mistake again as they allowed Arsenal possession for large spells before breaking at speed.

The visitors doubled their lead just 15 minutes in with De Bruyne this time the creator as he carried the ball forward before squaring for Sterling to slot home his 16th goal of the season.

De Bruyne showed his superior quality to any other player on the pitch again five minutes before half-time as this time he curled into the bottom corner on his weaker left foot from outside the box.

And only a brilliant save from Bernd Leno denied the City midfielder a first-half hat-trick moments later as the German’s fingertips turned another long-range De Bruyne effort onto the post.

Arsenal’s preparation for the game had been disturbed by the controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil’s support for the Muslim minority Uighurs in Chinese province Xinjiang.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV pulled coverage of the match and Arsenal distanced themselves from Ozil’s comments.

The German was still selected by Ljungberg but made a little impact before being substituted on the hour mark and his slow walk to the touchline with his side trailing 3-0 drew the wrath of some disgruntled Arsenal fans.

Only Leno prevented the scoreline from becoming even more embarrassing for Arsenal as he saved one-on-one from Jesus and at his near post from Riyad Mahrez.

However, with just one win in five games since Ljungberg took temporary charge after the sacking of Unai Emery, the appointment of a new manager cannot come soon enough if they are to salvage anything from a thoroughly disappointing season so far.

AFP

Man City Standards Have Slipped, Says Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 7, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City may no longer be able to match the standards of the best teams after a painful defeat against Manchester United left them 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Guardiola’s City have been the Premier League’s outstanding side over the past two years, clocking up 100 points in 2017/18 and retaining the title last term during their treble-winning campaign.

Guardiola hopes City, who have now lost four of their 16 league games this season, will be able to learn from their setbacks.

“United have the quality to defend and the quality to attack on the counter-attack and you have to accept that,” said the City boss.

“That is the level we face against Liverpool, United, Barcelona, Madrid, Juventus. They are the teams we have to face and the reality is maybe we are not able now to compete with them.

“We have to improve and accept it and move forward. Maybe we need to live that as a club to improve, to accept the reality now and improve.”

Guardiola, however, is not ready to give up on his side’s title defence and there is also plenty more to play for in the remainder of the campaign.

City have already qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League ahead of Wednesday’s final group game against Dinamo Zagreb, are through to the League Cup quarter-finals and have a kind draw for the start of their FA Cup defence next month.

“The reality is we are 14 points behind for the mistakes we have done, for the quality of our opponents and especially, as well, the things we cannot control,” said Guardiola. “That is the reality but we have to continue.

“We are at the beginning of December and we have other competitions to play in and other games to fight and improve on. Maybe this is going to help us for the future so we need to live this as a club to be better.”

AFP

Guardiola Accuses Liverpool Star Mane Of Diving

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) exchanges words with Southampton’s Austrian manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (L) on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Southampton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on November 2, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola has accused Liverpool star Sadio Mane of diving as the Manchester City boss lit the fuse on next weekend’s explosive clash between the Premier League title rivals.

Mane scored Liverpool’s winner in the fourth minute of stoppage-time as the leaders scored twice in the final moments to escape with a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday.

But the Senegal winger had been booked for simulation in the first half at Villa Park and that didn’t escape Guardiola’s attention.

Asked about Liverpool’s comeback, Guardiola, speaking after City came from behind to beat Southampton 2-1, told BBC Sport: “It has happened many times, what Liverpool have done, in the last few years, it’s because (Mane) is a special talent.

“Sometimes he’s diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute. He’s a talent.”

Liverpool remain six points clear of City ahead of their crucial showdown at Anfield on Sunday and Guardiola knows the European champions will be tough to catch given their relentless drive.

“If it’s one time, two times, ‘we were lucky, we were lucky’, but it happened in the last two seasons many, many times. They have a special character to do that,” Guardiola said.

“We look at ourselves, we know which team we face, I think they have won 10 and drawn one. Next week we go to Anfield to try to play them.”

AFP

Premier League: Sterling Stars As Man City Beat Aston Villa

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (L) runs to celebrate after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on October 26, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester City closed the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to three points as Raheem Sterling inspired a 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side survived a tame opening period as second half goals from Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan put Villa to the sword.

City’s second successive league victory lifted them above Leicester into second place and put pressure on Liverpool to beat Tottenham in Sunday’s clash at Anfield.

The only frustration for Guardiola was a red card for Fernandinho, who was dismissed after earning a second booking when he tugged at Keinan Davis in the 87th minute.

City were upset by Wolves in their last league fixture at the Etihad Stadium, but Guardiola had never lost back-to-back home league games as a manager and Sterling was key to ensuring that impressive record wasn’t ruined.

Sterling’s latest virtuoso display came just days after his second hat-trick of the campaign in City’s Champions League demolition of Atalanta.

The England winger has made a convincing case to be regarded as genuine superstar over the last 18 months and Villa had no answer to his intelligent movement, sublime skills and predatory finishing.

City have scored 32 league goals this season, 11 more than Liverpool, and their firepower was clear to see as they saw off Villa with their record scorer Sergio Aguero on the bench.

Gabriel Jesus made consecutive Premier League starts for the first time since December, but he squandered a chance to put City ahead when he dragged his close-range shot wide from Sterling’s pass.

No fewer than 11 City stars have suffered injuries this season, with Oleksandr Zinchenko and Rodri the latest to be sidelined for several weeks.

 Route one City 

Guardiola admitted he was “a little bit concerned” about how City would cope, yet with Sterling in his side, anything is possible.

Sterling appealed for a penalty when his shot cannoned off Bjorn Engels’ arm, then glanced a header just wide.

John Stones was back in place of Rodri at the heart of City’s defence, but the England international looked rusty in his first start since September.

He gifted possession to Villa and Douglas Luiz almost took advantage when he tangled with City keeper Ederson, who narrowly avoided conceding a penalty in the melee.

Moments later, Stones threw himself in front of a Trezeguet shot, surviving a penalty appeal after the ball deflected onto his hand.

Despite their lack of rhythm in the first half, City should have been ahead at the break when Sterling teed up David Silva, only for the Spanish midfielder to shoot inches wide of the far post.

Usually firmly dedicated to Guardiola’s passing principles, City finally broke Villa’s stubborn resistence with a goal straight from the route one handbook.

A huge punt forward by Ederson was flicked on by Jesus into the path of the unmarked Sterling, who took one touch before shooting under Tom Heaton for his 13th goal in 14 appearances in all competitions this term.

City should have doubled their lead when Engels gave the ball away to Sterling and he picked out Jesus, but the Brazilian’s shot was brilliantly cleared off the line by Tyrone Mings.

It made no difference as Guardiola’s side were in the groove and they killed off Villa with two goals in five minutes.

In the 65th minute, De Bruyne swung in a cross that evaded Silva and Sterling before bouncing into the net.

A long VAR review followed to check for offside but the goal was given.

Gundogan put the result beyond doubt in the 70th minute with a clinical finish after Villa failed to clear.

AFP

Champions League: Sterling Shines As Man City Humiliate Atalanta

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (R) scores their fifth goal to complete his hattrick during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Manchester City and Atalanta at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England on October 22, 2019. AFP

 

Raheem Sterling hit a brilliant 11-minute hat-trick as Manchester City inflicted a 5-1 thrashing on Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side were rocked by Ruslan Malinovsky’s first half penalty at the Etihad Stadium.

But City responded superbly as Sergio Aguero struck twice before the interval.

Sterling had provided the assists for both of Aguero’s goals, but the England winger was just getting warmed up.

After the interval, Sterling struck three times to complete a personal masterclass that underlined his rise in the Guardiola era from enigmatic playmaker to lethal finisher.

Sterling has emerged as City’s driving force over the last 18 months and his second hat-trick of the season confirmed his place among the world’s best players.

The only frustration for Guardiola was a late red card for young midfielder Phil Foden.

City’s third successive Group C victory leaves them top of the table, five points clear of second placed Dinamo Zagreb with three games left.

Atalanta, making their Champions League debut this season, are still searching for their first point after a third consecutive defeat.

Guardiola had called on City to show they have the mentality to conquer the “little margins” needed to win the Champions League for the first time.

This was the perfect response as they erased a slow start.

Kyle Walker, back in the City defence after illness, let Robin Gosens scamper down the wing to whip in a cross that Timothy Castagne headed over from close-range.

After going 22 minutes without a single shot, Guardiola’s men finally threatened when Aguero’s drive forced a save from Pierluigi Gollini.

But it was Atalanta who struck first in the 28th minute.

For the second successive game, Guardiola had responded to City’s defensive injury problems by deploying midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri as his two centre-backs.

Sterling sparkles 

It was an uncomfortable arrangement and when Josip Ilicic advanced into the City area, Fernandinho rashly stuck out a leg to trip the Atalanta winger and concede a penalty.

Malinovsky sent Ederson the wrong way with the spot-kick as City conceded their first goal in this season’s tournament.

That blow woke City from their slumber and Aguero made up for his earlier miss with the 34th minute equaliser.

Sterling deserved much of the credit for a penetrating run and delicate cross that allowed Aguero to peel off his marker for a clinical close-range finish.

City had their rhythm back and Sterling was the catalyst again when they took the lead in the 38th minute.

Surging into the Atalanta area at pace, Sterling was clearly tripped by Andrea Masiello and Aguero stepped up to drill the penalty past Gollini.

It was Aguero’s 10th goal in all competitions this season, ending a three-game drought for City’s record scorer.

Rodri limped off before half-time, prompting John Stones’ introduction after missing six games with injury, but not before Guardiola, pounding the dug-out seat in frustration, appeared to chastise the City defender for his slow rise from the bench.

Guardiola had suggested this week that City aren’t clinical enough, even though they are the top scorers in the Premier League.

But Sterling had the perfect riposte with his man of the match display and he made it three in the 58th minute.

Kevin De Bruyne found Foden and he alertly laid off to Sterling, who drilled into the roof of the net.

Sterling wasn’t finished yet and he raced onto Ilkay Gundogan’s pass before deftly cutting back onto his right foot for a fine finish into the far corner in the 64th minute.

Capping a memorable evening for Sterling, five minutes later he scored his 11th goal of the season with a close-range finish from Riyad Mahrez’s cross.

Foden, making a rare start in midfield, saw red for two bookings in quick succession in the 82nd minute.

AFP

Man City Beat Everton To Keep Liverpool In Sight

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (R) celebrates with teammates after he scores his team’s third goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north-west England on September 28, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Manchester City clung onto the coat-tails of Premier League pacesetters Liverpool with a hard-fought win against Everton on Saturday after Jurgen Klopp’s men extended their perfect start to the season.

Elsewhere, 10-man Tottenham put their recent wobbles behind them to clamber into the top four with victory against Southampton while Chelsea grabbed their first home league win under new boss Frank Lampard.

In the early match, Liverpool won their seventh Premier League game out of seven thanks to Georginio Wijnaldum’s fortunate strike in a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United.

The European champions looked short on invention against the well-organised Blades until Wijnaldum’s shot from the edge of the box 20 minutes from time trickled between the legs of United goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Liverpool, who have won 16 consecutive league games, finished a single point behind champions City in the Premier League last season but are now setting a searing pace as they chase their first top-flight title since 1990.

“For us it was important to win, we had unbelievably big chances,” Klopp told BT Sport.

“In the first half we had two big chances and in the second one, which we scored from. These games, they are not all beauties and you have to work hard for the results.”

City were under huge pressure to respond in the late kick-off at Goodison Park and took the lead through Gabriel Jesus midway through the first half.

But while Pep Guardiola’s men were irresistible going forward, they looked shaky at the back, with makeshift centre-back Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi in central defence.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin equalised and both sides had further chances to score before a Riyad Mahrez free-kick and a late Raheem Sterling goal sealed a 3-1 victory, which moved City back to within five points of Liverpool.

“It’s always difficult here,” said Guardiola. “First half we started incredible, the first 20-25 minutes, then we had problems to control Gylfi Sigurdsson in that position.

“But we created from wide areas in the second half and we had the quality of Riyad Mahrez for the goal.

“Everton have fast players, they caused a lot of problems at the back, so I’m delighted because we want to go for this league and try to win it again.”

Kane Strikes

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino recalled his big guns for the home match against Southampton, making 11 changes from the side that suffered a shock League Cup exit at Colchester in midweek.

Spurs had won just two of their opening eight games in all competitions before Saturday and looked in deep trouble when they were reduced to 10 men.

Tanguy Ndombele fired the home side ahead but they suffered a blow when Serge Aurier was sent off after half an hour for two yellow cards.

Hugo Lloris then gifted Southampton an equaliser with a goalkeeping howler, Danny Ings dispossessing the Frenchman in his six-yard box and forcing the ball home before Harry Kane restored the home side’s lead shortly before half-time.

The 2-1 win lifted Spurs into fourth place in the Premier League, one spot behind West Ham, who drew 2-2 away to Bournemouth after beating Manchester United last week.

Pochettino said he was proud of the spirit his side had shown, adding it was an “amazing victory” for his team.

“Unbelievable fightback from the team, scoring the goal with 10 men and then fighting all together in the second 45 minutes, keeping a clean sheet in the second half,” he said.

Chelsea boss Lampard said his side’s 2-0 home win against Brighton, coupled with a clean sheet, would boost his players’ confidence.

Speaking about the crop of young players coming through, he told the BBC: “It is great for the club and a long time coming. The work is done in the academy. The mentality is great. They want to play for this club. At the moment they are earning it and setting a level for others.”

Also on Saturday, there was a first league win of the season for Wolves, 2-0 against bottom club Watford, and Crystal Palace were 2-0 winners against Norwich.

Aston Villa twice led against Burnley but were pegged back and had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

High-flying Leicester host struggling Newcastle on Sunday while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s misfiring Manchester United are at home to Arsenal on Monday.

Guardiola Hopeful Of Mendy’s Return To City

France’s defender Benjamin Mendy arrives in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines on November 12, 2018, as part of the team’s preparation for the upcoming Nations League football match against the Netherlands and a friendly football match against Uruguay. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola insists Benjamin Mendy can still be a force for injury-hit Manchester City despite the French defender’s own struggles to find top fitness.

Mendy has endured a difficult time with City since arriving from Monaco in a £52 million ($64.85 million) deal in 2017.

He suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in September 2017 and has been fighting for full fitness ever since.

Since that day against Crystal Palace, the 24-year-old has only featured in 20 of City’s 118 fixtures in all competitions.

Premier League champions City have seen centre-backs Aymeric Laporte and John Stones both suffer injuries this season, with midfielder Fernandinho dropping into defence against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday.

But Mendy made his first appearance of the campaign when he came on as a substitute in the 3-0 win over Shakhtar.

Now Guardiola wants that to be the start of a better period for the French World Cup winner.

“The first step is to not get injured. It is to play weeks and weeks and weeks, and do months of training and training,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

“We did it last month and that is a good sign. He played his first minutes and in the future he is going to play a little more regularly.

“Benjamin has to play and play because we always dreamed that he would be an incredibly important player for us.

“With him we can attack more constantly and in different ways. There is a special quality that only he has in our team.

“With Mendy we can attack wide and from deep. So that is why hopefully he can be fit and healthy and play.”

Mendy is in contention to feature against Watford in the Premier League on Saturday as City aim to recover from the shock 3-2 defeat at Norwich last Saturday.

With Liverpool already five points ahead at the top of the league, Guardiola will not want his side to drop any more unexpected points.

Guardiola also said he expects his assistant coach Mikel Arteta to become a top manager and even backed his fellow Spaniard to take over when he eventually leaves the Etihad Stadium.

Arteta, who has had offers to go elsewhere, came straight from the end of his playing career at Arsenal to join the backroom team at City.

“Mikel has helped me a lot from day one. He knew the Premier League better than myself,” Guardiola said.

“He is already an incredible manager and he will have incredible success in the future.

“I am pretty sure he would be able to succeed me, yes. I am happy he decided to stay but sooner or later it is going to happen.

“He is young at 37, but he has experience to handle big players and big teams.

“We see football in a really close way and thanks to his vision we can often change something in the team.”

AFP

Bernardo Salutes ‘Unbelievable’ Man City After Watford Win

Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva celebrates after he scores the team’s seventh goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 21, 2019.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Bernardo Silva admitted Manchester City’s “unbelievable” 8-0 thrashing of Watford was motivated by a desire to erase the bitter taste of their shock defeat against Norwich.

City recorded their biggest ever top-flight victory thanks to Bernardo’s hat-trick and goals for Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Nicolas Otamendi, Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne at a jubilant Etihad Stadium.

It was the perfect response from Pep Guardiola’s side after their shock 3-2 loss against Norwich last weekend.

That defeat has given the initiative to leaders Liverpool in the title race and Portugal playmaker Bernardo revealed City were desperate to make amends.

“We were unbelievable in the first 30 minutes, scored lots of goals and had control. After the Norwich defeat, it was great to give our fans the result and the performance,” Bernardo said.

“We aimed to keep it going in the second half. We didn’t want them to hurt us or score past us.

“Football is a hard game – I’ve won 8-0 today but I’ve lost plenty of times by five or four goals.

“It was a great performance, 8-0 says everything. It’s very good to get the three points after defeat at Norwich and I’m very happy with my first hat-trick of my career. My first match ball at home.”

City are now two points behind Liverpool, but Jurgen Klopp’s side can reopen a five-point lead if they win at Chelsea on Sunday.

After winning the domestic treble last term, Bernardo believes the ruthless nature of City’s win, which saw them keep their foot on the gas after scoring five goals in the first half, proves they still have the hunger for more silverware.

“All teams have good and bad moments, the way you react to the bad is the most important thing. Once again this team showed we want to fight for the Premier League and all the titles,” he said.

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster said City’s superlative display was the best he had ever seen.

But he admitted the Hornets had failed to offer any kind of resistance in their heaviest ever defeat at any level of English football.

“It’s probably a bit of shock, embarrassment. I think we let ourselves down today,” Foster said.

“As a keeper coming to City and Liverpool, if you let five in 20 minutes you fear the worst, you think cricket scores.

“They are without doubt the best team I have ever played against. We were poor, didn’t lay a glove on them but at times it was breathtaking watching them.

“You come away to City and I’m not joking, you think if you keep it to two or three – they are so good. Them and Liverpool are a different level.”

AFP

Guardiola Impressed By Mahrez Revival

 

Pep Guardiola has backed Riyad Mahrez to be a key man for Manchester City after the Algeria winger’s vibrant start to the season.

With Leroy Sane out for at least five months as he recovers from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Mahrez will have plenty of chances to make his mark this season.

He did that on Wednesday in the Champions League, scoring one and creating another as City strolled to a 3-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Algerian struggled at City last season following his £60 million move from Leicester.

READ ALSO: Barcelona Starlet Fati Granted Spanish Citizenship

But now Guardiola believes the 28-year-old can become a major part of his plans as he adapts to City’s unique style.

“Riyad played well last season apart from the first few games,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

“He took a bit of time to adapt as it was different from Leicester where he was used to playing on the counter attack, but that is normal.

“But he loves to play football and he loves training. He just wants to be in the contact with the ball. I like that.

“He doesn’t feel too much pressure and he has a lot of confidence in himself.

“If he has a bad action, he wants the ball back to try again. That is the best detail for players in big clubs.

“He is quality, but the only thing is he just needs to be more relaxed when he does not play.”

While Mahrez was impressing in Kharkiv, Gabriel Jesus also caught the eye with a goal in just his second start of the season.

The Brazilian striker has had to play second fiddle to Sergio Aguero since he came to England in January 2017, but Guardiola says he is the perfect understudy to the Argentine.

– Incredible future –
“It’s difficult to find a striker like Gabriel in Europe or the world. He is a top player and his behaviour in training sessions is outstanding,” Guardiola said.

“He has to handle being behind Aguero, a legend in this club and one of the best strikers I have ever worked with, so my praise for Gabriel is over the moon.

“He needs to be patient but when he plays, he does absolutely everything in the way he fights and the way he tries. He is a young forward and his future is incredible.”

Fernandinho appears certain to retain his place for the Premier League game at home to Watford on Saturday as an emergency centre-half, having stepped in alongside Nicolas Otamendi to replace the injured John Stones in Ukraine on Wednesday.

Stones faces another month out and Aymeric Laporte is sidelined until the new year, so Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho will be needed in defence for the foreseeable future.

With Vincent Kompany joining Anderlecht in the close-season, it leaves teenagers Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis as the only other alternatives to Fernandinho as a centre-half.

However, Guardiola is trying to turn the difficult situation into a positive.

“We don’t have many options. But I don’t see it as a problem, it’s a challenge,” he said.

“We have to accept it and handle it. You have to be positive. If we do that, we’ll be happy.”

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© Agence France-Presse