Arsenal Win Again As Liverpool Top Premier League

Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (2nd R) scores the opening goal with this freekick during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

 

Martin Odegaard scored his first goal since his permanent switch to Arsenal on Saturday to further ease the pressure on Mikel Arteta as Sadio Mane helped fire Liverpool to the top of the Premier League.

Defending champions Manchester City dropped two points at home to Southampton after a 0-0 stalemate while struggling Wolves lost their fourth match in five against 10-man Brentford.

Arsenal were rock bottom of the table before last week’s fixtures but wins against Norwich and now Burnley lifted them to the relative comfort of 12th spot before the late kick-off between Aston Villa and Everton.

Odegaard, who signed from Real Madrid last month after spending part of last season at the Emirates on loan, broke the deadlock in the 30th minute, curling home a free-kick to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at Turf Moor.

 

Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

Arsenal breathed a sigh of relief when VAR overturned a penalty awarded to Burnley in the second half after Matej Vydra tumbled to the turf following a challenge by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Liverpool forward Mane continued his eye-catching run against Crystal Palace, netting in his ninth league match in a row against the London side to send Jurgen Klopp’s men top of the table with a 3-0 win.

Mohamed Salah’s glancing header from Konstantinos Tsimikas’ corner was kept out by goalkeeper Vicente Guaita but Mane pounced to lash home his 100th goal for Liverpool in all competitions.

Salah doubled the Reds’ lead in the 78th minute before Naby Keita sealed the win with a sweetly struck volley.

Liverpool, champions in 2020, have made an impressive start to the season, scoring 12 goals in their opening five games and conceding just once.

 

Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden reacts following the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Southampton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

City Drop Points

Manchester City will rue their inability to beat Southampton at the Etihad after consecutive 5-0 home wins.

It could have been worse for them after referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot when Kyle Walker bundled into the back of Adam Armstrong in the area, showing the England international a red card.

But the incident was reviewed by VAR and Moss eventually decided to overturn both decisions.

The build-up to City’s match was dominated by a row over attendance levels at the Etihad, with manager Pep Guardiola urging fans to fill empty seats in comments that irritated some supporters.

But fans were frustrated by battling Southampton, who kept City’s attackers at bay despite relentless pressure.

 

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (C) vies with Crystal Palace’s English defender Joel Ward (R) during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

The home side thought they had snatched victory in the dying minutes after goalkeeper Alex McCarthy saved a Phil Foden header and Raheem Sterling tucked in the rebound but the flag was raised.

Watford beat Norwich 3-1 to condemn the newly promoted Canaries to their fifth consecutive defeat.

Watford took the lead in the 17th minute through Emmanuel Dennis but Teemu Pukki equalised before half time. Ismaila Sarr put the visitors back in front in the 63rd minute and scored again with 10 minutes to go.

In the early kick-off, Ivan Toney scored a goal and created another as 10-man Brentford beat Wolves 2-0 to maintain their impressive start to their first Premier League campaign.

The 25-year-old striker won and converted a penalty before setting up Bryan Mbeumo as the Bees prevailed at Molineux despite Shandon Baptiste’s red card in the second half.

Tottenham host Chelsea on Sunday while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United travel to West Ham.

 

 

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah removes his shirt as he celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE.

AFP

Guardiola Unrepentant Over Man City Fan Jibe

File photo: Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola
Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

 

Pep Guardiola says he will not apologise for urging fans to fill empty seats at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium after his comments irritated some of the club’s supporters.

The City boss said this week that he wanted a bigger crowd at Saturday’s home game against Southampton than the 38,062 who watched his side’s 6-3 Champions League win over RB Leipzig in midweek.

City’s poor attendances and flat atmosphere for some European games are often used as taunts by rival fans but crowds of more than 50,000 turned up to watch their opening two Premier League games.

Guardiola’s comments annoyed some supporters, who felt the manager had questioned their loyalty, but he said that was a misinterpretation of his comments.

The City manager said at his pre-match press conference on Friday: “Did I say after the game against Leipzig that I was disappointed that the stadium was not full? An interpretation is an interpretation.

“I am not going to apologise for what I said. What I said was we would love, and we need the support.

“It doesn’t matter how many people come but I invite them to come and enjoy the game because we need the support.”

Guardiola said he would never criticise fans for being unable to attend games.

“I am entirely grateful for the support that we had against Leipzig,” he said. “I never have the words to ask why people don’t come. If you can’t come then don’t come.

“If you want to come it’s a pleasure, if you don’t, then don’t.”

Kevin Parker, the general secretary of City’s official supporters club, said Thursday that Guardiola should be more appreciative of the cost for fans in time and money of attending matches.

“He doesn’t understand the difficulties that some people might have getting to a game at the Etihad on a Wednesday evening at 8:00 pm,” Parker said.

“They’ve got kids to think of, they might not be able to afford it, there are still some Covid issues about. I don’t see why he comments on it.

“He’s absolutely the best coach in the world but, in the nicest possible way, I think maybe he should stick to that.”

-AFP

Manchester City Thrash Arsenal 5-0

Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder Rodrigo (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

 

 

Manchester City rubbed salt into Arsenal wounds with a 5-0 thrashing on Saturday to inflict the Gunners’ worst start to a league season since 1954.

Mikel Arteta’s men have lost their first three league games and are yet to even score a goal with the pressure rising on the former City assistant manager’s job.

Arteta’s experimental selection and switch to a back three failed to halt a slick City attack that suggested they are more than capable of defending their Premier League title this season despite missing out on Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ilkay Gundogan opened the floodgates before Ferran Torres pounced on shocking Arsenal defending to double City’s lead inside 12 minutes.

Arsenal’s task was made even harder when Granit Xhaka needlessly lunged at Joao Cancelo and was shown a straight red card.

Gabriel Jesus made it 3-0 before half-time before Rodrigo and Torres with his second of the afternoon rounded off the scoring.

 

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (C) controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) 

 

Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (L) vies with Manchester City’s English midfielder Jack Grealish during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

 

Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder Ferran Torres (C) scores his team’s fifth goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) 

 

City’s week had been dominated by transfer speculation as Kane confirmed he will be remaining at Tottenham this season with Spurs unwilling to sale the England captain.

Ronaldo was then rumoured to be making a sensational move to the Etihad but opted instead to return to Manchester United.

Yet, even without the injured Kevin De Bruyne and with Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez on the bench, City showed the wealth of attacking options on offer to Pep Guardiola.

Arteta left the comfort of working alongside Guardiola for his first managerial job just under two years ago, but is increasingly in the firing line with Arsenal falling further behind the Premier League elite.

The Spaniard has reportedly been given until the October international break, in just over a month, to revive Arsenal’s fortunes after spending over £130 million in the transfer window.

Martin Odegaard was the only new signing named in Arteta’s starting line-up with Aaron Ramsdale, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga on the bench and £50 million centre-back Ben White sidelined by coronavirus.

The selection of Sead Kolasinac, Rob Holding and Callum Chambers quickly backfired as the diminutive Gundogan outjumped Holding to head home the opener on seven minutes.

More shambolic defending allowed Torres to tap home the second from Cedric Soares’s sliced clearance.

A massive mistake from Ederson nearly gave Arsenal a lifeline when his clearance was charged down by Emile Smith Rowe and rolled inches wide.

Xhaka’s ill-discipline then left his side with no hope 10 minutes before half-time.

The Swiss midfielder recently signed a new contract to end speculation over his future, but red cards have been a recurring feature of his six years in north London and his wild two-footed lung on Cancelo brought the 12th sending off in his club career.

 

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (L) controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) 

 

Manchester City’s Spanish midfielder Rodrigo (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

 

Against the 10 men, Jack Grealish had the space to show why City spent £100 million on making him the most expensive player in Premier League history.

Grealish’s trickery left Chambers and Holding on the floor before squaring for Jesus to tap into an empty net.

City enjoyed a glorified training session after the break as Arsenal could barely get a touch.

Rodrigo’s inch-perfect curling finish from long range made it 4-0.

Guardiola introduced Sterling and Mahrez for the final half hour and it was from Mahrez’s perfect cross that Torres headed in off the post.

Manchester City’s Mendy Remanded In Custody On Rape Charges

FILES) In this file photo taken on August 07, 2021, Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy (R) runs with the ball during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 7, 2021. 
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

A British court on Friday remanded Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy in custody after he was charged with four counts of rape and one count of sexual assault.

The 27-year-old appeared at Chester Magistrates’ Court in northwest England to face accusations brought by three complainants.

The incidents are alleged to have taken place between October 2020 and August 2021.

The France international wore a red hoodie and black tracksuit bottoms as he stood in the dock to hear the charges, speaking to confirm his name, age and address.

He is alleged to have attacked the females, one aged under 18, at his home in Prestbury, Cheshire.

Judge Jack McGarva referred the case to Chester Crown Court, where the footballer is due to appear on September 10.

City suspended Mendy on Thursday after police confirmed the Frenchman has been charged.

“The matter is subject to a legal process and the Club is, therefore, unable to make further comment until that process is complete,” City’s statement added.

Mendy, who was part of France’s 2018 World Cup winning squad, was remanded in custody ahead of Friday’s appearance at Chester Magistrates’ Court.

The left-back joined City in 2017 from Monaco for a reported £52 million ($71 million).

Mendy has played 75 times for City over the past four years, winning three Premier League titles, but has seen his playing time limited by injuries and a loss of form.

He has just under two years left to run on a six-year contract.

The last of his 10 caps for France came in November 2019.

-AFP

PSG To Play Man City In Champions League Group Stage

This picture shows the draw for the UEFA Champions League football tournament in Istanbul on August 26, 2021. OZAN KOSE / AFP
This picture shows the draw for the UEFA Champions League football tournament in Istanbul on August 26, 2021. OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, two of the leading candidates to win the Champions League, will face each other in the group stage of this season’s competition after coming out together in Thursday’s draw.

Pep Guardiola’s City beat PSG in the semi-finals of last season’s Champions League on the way to losing the final to Chelsea in Porto.

Qatar-owned Paris responded to that disappointment by signing Lionel Messi and there is a chance that the two meetings of the clubs could see the Argentine come up against his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

READ ALSO: Chelsea’s Jorginho Wins UEFA Player Of Year

The Portuguese forward is being strongly linked with a move to Abu Dhabi-owned City from Juventus before the European transfer window closes on Tuesday, August 31.

The clubs are in Group A along with RB Leipzig and Belgian champions Club Brugge.

Leipzig were already in a group with PSG last season, the two sides qualifying for the last 16 ahead of Manchester United.

The Germans, who also lost to PSG in the 2020 semi-finals in Lisbon, lost coach Julian Nagelsmann to Bayern Munich in the summer and replaced him with Jesse Marsch.

Holders Chelsea will play Juventus in Group H and both clubs will be expected to advance from a section also including Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg and Malmo.

The Swedish champions knocked out Rangers in the third qualifying round.

Saint Petersburg will host this season’s Champions League final on May 28 next year.

Thursday’s draw in Istanbul also saw Barcelona come out in a fascinating Group E along with Bayern Munich, Benfica and Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev.

For Barca it will be a first meeting with Bayern since they were humbled 8-2 by the German giants in Benfica’s Estadio da Luz in Lisbon in the quarter-finals a year ago.

Liverpool will face Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, meaning a return to the Wanda Metropolitano stadium where they beat Tottenham Hostpur in the 2019 final to win the European Cup for the sixth time.

Jurgen Klopp’s side will also play AC Milan and FC Porto in Group B. Milan are back in the Champions League for the first time since 2013/14.

Manchester United came out in Group F with Villarreal, Atalanta and Swiss champions Young Boys.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lost to Villarreal on penalties in last season’s Europa League final.

The first round of group fixtures will be played on September 14 and 15.

 

AFP

Manchester City Suspend Mendy After Rape, Sexual Assault Charges

FILES) In this file photo taken on August 07, 2021, Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva (L) and Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy (R) run with the ball during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 7, 2021. 
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

 

Manchester City left-back, Benjamin Mendy, has been suspended by the club after he was charged with four counts of rape and one count of sexual assault on Thursday.

According to the Cheshire Police, the incidents were alleged to have occurred between October 2020 and August 2021 after three complainants over the age of 16 reported the case.

The Constabulary was quick to sound a note of warning “It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary, or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice ongoing proceedings.

In a statement, the Premier League Champions confirmed the sanction on the France international: “Manchester City can confirm that following his being charged by police today, Benjamin Mendy has been suspended pending an investigation.

“The matter is subject to a legal process and the club is, therefore, unable to make further comment until that process is complete,” the statement further read.

Mendy, who was part of France’s 2018 World Cup winning squad, has been remanded in custody ahead of an appearance at Chester Magistrates’ Court on Friday

The left-back joined City in 2017 from Monaco for a reported £52 million ($71 million), but has been plagued by injuries that have limited his playing time,

I Will Be Staying At Tottenham – Harry Kane

FILES) In this file photo taken on May 19, 2021, Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane reacts after the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on May 19, 2021. 
Richard Heathcote / POOL / AFP

 

 

Harry Kane ended speculation over a potential move to Manchester City by announcing on Wednesday he will remain at Tottenham this season.

The 28-year-old is the second top goalscorer in Tottenham’s history with 221 but is yet to win a major trophy at the club or international level.

Kane had made clear his desire to leave his boyhood club in the quest to end his wait for silverware.

However, he still has three years left on a six-year deal signed in 2018, allowing Spurs chairman Daniel Levy to demand a fee well in excess of the £100 million ($137 million) English record City paid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish earlier this month.

Kane missed his side’s 1-0 victory over City on the opening weekend of the Premier League season after returning late to pre-season training.

However, he was warmly welcomed back by the Tottenham support as he made his first appearance of the season as a substitute in a 1-0 win at Wolves last weekend.

“It was incredible to see the reception from the Spurs fans on Sunday and to read some of the messages of support I’ve had in the last few weeks,” he posted on Twitter.

“I will be staying at Tottenham this summer and will be 100% focused on helping the team achieve success.”

According to reports, Tottenham turned down a City bid of £125 million for their star striker.

Levy will be hoping his gamble in turning that fee down will be rewarded by Kane firing Tottenham back into the Champions League next season.

Under former manager,Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs reached the Champions League in four consecutive seasons between 2016/17 and 2019/20, including reaching the final for the first time in the club’s history in 2018.

The decision to sack Pochettino in November 2019 and replace the Argentine with Jose Mourinho has backfired on Levy as Tottenham have finished sixth and seventh in the Premier League in the past two seasons.

Mourinho was also unable to end Tottenham’s trophy drought that stretches back to 2008.

A prolonged search for Mourinho’s successor upped the pressure on Levy not to lose Kane this summer.

Nearly three months after the former Chelsea manager was sacked, Nuno Espirito Santo was appointed as coach on June 30.

However, Spurs have made light of a disruptive few months by taking maximum points from their opening two league games.

“Great news. Fantastic news,” said Nuno, who hinted Kane could return to the starting line-up for Thursday’s Europa Conference League playoff against Pacos de Ferreira.

“I think since Harry joined us he has been working so this is what we value. His attitude in training has been excellent.

“It’s finished, Harry is going to be with us. He is an option for tomorrow. It is great news for everybody.”

Personal glory could also keep Kane in north London for the long haul.

He is just 45 goals behind the legendary Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham’s all-time top scorer.

City were targeting Kane as a long-term successor to Sergio Aguero at the Etihad.

And Aguero’s record of scoring the most Premier League goals for one club of 184 could go this season with Kane having netted 166 for Spurs.

-AFP

EPL: Grealish Bags First City Goal As Champions Cruise Against Norwich

Manchester City's English midfielder Jack Grealish celebrates with Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (L) after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 21, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Manchester City’s English midfielder Jack Grealish celebrates with Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (L) after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 21, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Jack Grealish scored his first goal for Manchester City as the Premier League champions thrashed Norwich 5-0 on Saturday.

Grealish marked his home debut following his British record £100 million ($136 million) move from Aston Villa with a close-range effort to double City’s lead in the first half.

Tim Krul’s own goal had given City the lead at the Etihad Stadium.

Aymeric Laporte, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez netted in the second half to ensure City bounced back from last weekend’s defeat at Tottenham.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Banish Burnley Ghosts In ‘Dream’ Return To Anfield

City had been beaten in both of Grealish’s previous appearances, losing the Community Shield against Leicester and then slumping in their Premier League opener.

But Grealish’s first goal since January helped show Pep Guardiola’s side they can cope without Harry Kane if their prolonged pursuit of the Tottenham striker ends in failure.

With the injured Kevin De Bruyne absent for City, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva and Laporte all started amid reports they are looking to leave after growing unhappy with their reduced roles last season.

Jesus took the chance to remind Guardiola of his qualities with a virtuoso display.

It was the Brazilian forward’s volleyed cross in the seventh minute that brought City’s opener.

Grant Hanley attempted to clear but instead hit Norwich goalkeeper Krul as the ball looped into the net.

Grealish got off the mark in slightly fortuitous fashion in the 22nd minute.

Jesus’s cross reached Grealish at the far post and bounced in off the England midfielder.

Laporte scored in the 64th minute with a close-range finish after Norwich failed to clear a corner.

Jesus provided his third assist of the afternoon as Sterling tapped in after 71 minutes before Mahrez grabbed City’s fifth with a simple finish in the 84th minute.

AFP

Iheanacho Scores Winner As Leicester Beat Man City To Lift Community Shield

Leicester City's Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (C) scores the opening goal from the penalty spot during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 7, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (C) scores the opening goal from the penalty spot during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 7, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Jack Grealish’s Manchester City debut was spoiled by Kelechi Iheanacho as the Leicester striker’s late penalty clinched a 1-0 win in the Community Shield on Saturday.

All eyes were on Grealish when he came on as a second half substitute following his British record £100 million ($139 million) move from Aston Villa on Thursday.

After training with his new team-mates for the first time on Friday, Grealish replaced Sam Edozie in the 65th minute and looked lively in his cameo appearance.

Grealish, the most expensive English player of all-time, carried more threat than any of his team-mates.

But Grealish’s first game in a City shirt ended in disappointment as Iheanacho netted the last minute winner from the penalty spot after the Nigerian was hauled down by Nathan Ake.

Defeat in the annual curtain raiser to the English top-flight season will matter little to City if they can replicate last term’s superb form, which carried them to Premier League and League Cup glory.

But the Champions League runners-up start their title defence at Tottenham on August 15 with an unsettled look that will concern Pep Guardiola.

With Guardiola admitting City’s interest in Tottenham striker Harry Kane on Friday, it was notable that his team lacked the kind of cutting edge the England captain would surely provide.

Persuading Tottenham to sell for less than their £150 million ($208 million) asking price remains City’s hope, but they might be advised to splash on the evidence of this largely toothless display.

Admittedly, City were without Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden after the playmakers both suffered injuries at Euro 2020.

Leicester City players celebrate after Leicester City's Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored the opening goal during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 7, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Leicester City players celebrate after Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored the opening goal during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 7, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

With several other City stars resting from Euro and Copa America duty, Guardiola fielded a weakened team featuring teenage debutant Edozie and fellow academy graduate Cole Palmer.

For Leicester, their second Community Shield triumph — and their first for 50 years — showed they can build on last season’s maiden FA Cup victory.

Three months after beating Chelsea in the final, Leicester were back at Wembley nursing a defensive injury crisis before the season has even started, with Wesley Fofana, James Justin and Jonny Evans all sidelined.

Grealish class

Brendan Rodgers did have Harvey Barnes back for the winger’s first appearance since February after a serious knee injury.

Barnes showed no signs of rust as he drew a good save from Zack Steffen with a stinging low drive.

City had threatened early on when Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick was superbly tipped over by Kasper Schmeichel.

But Leicester looked the more cohesive unit in the first half and Steffen saved alertly from Jamie Vardy’s close-range flick.

Manchester City's English midfielder Jack Grealish applauds the fans at the end of the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 7, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Manchester City’s English midfielder Jack Grealish applauds the fans at the end of the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 7, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

It might have been a friendly, but Guardiola’s frustration at City’s struggles boiled over when he was booked for an angry rant at the fourth official after Palmer was penalised for a foul.

Vardy was inches away from opening the scoring when he met Barnes’ cross with an agile half-volley that was pushed onto the post by Steffen.

Grealish warmed up to huge cheers early in the second half before wild finishes from Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez wasted good chances to put City ahead.

City fans got their wish with 25 minutes left when Grealish was introduced to huge cheers.

Grealish, wearing the number 10 shirt, got plenty of touches as he glided around the final third in search of space.

The most fouled player in the Premier League last season thought he had won a free-kick on the edge of the area after an incisive burst, but Paul Tierney waved play on.

An astute pass from Grealish picked out Bernardo Silva’s run into the Leicester area, but his team-mate’s cross wasn’t up to scratch.

Despite Grealish’s class, it was Leicester who finished with the trophy thanks to Ake’s blunder.

Caught in possession by Iheanacho, Ake clearly tripped the striker, conceding a penalty that the Leicester star drilled high into the net.

 

AFP

PSG Is Messi’s Most Likely Destination As Man City Close Door On Move – Report

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and FC Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on March 10, 2021. (File Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

With Manchester City appearing to close the door on a move for Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain may be the most likely next destination for the Argentinian superstar after Barcelona said they could not afford to give him a new contract.

Even a 50 per cent pay cut was not enough for Barca’s number crunchers as the Catalan giants pulled the plug on a planned five-year deal for Messi.

Even though he is now 34, in normal times there would be little shortage of suitors for a man who has won 10 league titles and four Champions League crowns with Barcelona while collecting an unmatched six Ballons d’Or.

But 18 months into a global pandemic, these are not normal times. Football has not proven immune as a season-and-a-half of empty stadiums has taken a huge financial toll.

Barcelona were living on the edge before the coronavirus struck. Obliged to slash their wage bill and tackle debts of some 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), the club on Thursday sprung a shock by saying it was the time for a parting of the ways.

Messi is out of contract at the Camp Nou and is available on a free transfer but it is not clear what roads are open to him.

City could potentially afford his wages and Messi would likely be open to a reunion with Pep Guardiola, his former mentor in Catalonia who is now in charge of the Premier League champions.

However, Guardiola replied “absolutely not” when asked on Friday if the club would move for Messi. City have just added Jack Grealish, who plays in a similar position, for a reported 100 million pounds ($139 million) and, Guardiola said, they might pursue Harry Kane if Tottenham Hotspur drop their asking price.

Reunion with Neymar?

Other leading English clubs may also be able to afford a move for Messi now there is no transfer fee to worry about, but the timing so close to the start of the new season is an issue. Many clubs have already done their business in the transfer window.

Instead, PSG look to be the favourites, should they wish to give Messi the chance of a reunion with his former Barca teammate Neymar at the Parc des Princes.

Only last December, Neymar told ESPN he would love nothing more than to link up again with Messi.

“We know what has happened,” said PSG coach and fellow Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino on Friday as he fielded inevitable questions about whether Messi might be on his own shopping list.

But the former Spurs coach would only go as far as to say that the Parisians “are working on the market to improve the team as much as possible and reach our objectives” as the new season approaches.

“I am concentrating on the start of the season,” which PSG kick off on Saturday.

PSG have in the past been more than ready to pick up marquee names in the twilight of their career — such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham, while veteran defender Sergio Ramos has just arrived from Real Madrid.

Messi “absolutely fits the strategy developed by the club over the past 10 years,” observed Christophe Lepetit of the Centre for Law and Sporting Economy (CDES) in the French city of Limoges to AFP.

Climb the last step

“In sporting terms he is a player who can help you climb the last step to win the Champions League,” an accolade which still eludes PSG, who lost 2020 final to Bayern Munich.

“He also allows the development of other income streams, notably commercial ones,” said Lepetit.

But Pochettino shrugged off questions on Friday, passing the ball to chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi.

“Our president is looking at ways of improving the team,” he said, while denying a British media report that he had spoken to Messi by telephone.

Asked if France star Kylian Mbappe, whose own contract runs out next summer and who is a longstanding Real Madrid target, might leave were Messi to join, Pochettino simply smiled and said “no.”

With French football in financial crisis following the recent collapse of broadcaster Mediapro, PSG have to tread a careful path.

According to French financial watchdog DNCG, the club ended the Covid-interrupted 2019/20 season with pre-tax losses of 124.9 million euros.

Even though UEFA has relaxed financial fair-play restrictions, PSG still need to make savings and yet they have already spent big this summer, signing Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi.

Man City Sign Jack Grealish From Aston Villa

grealish
Grealish was part of the England players that finished second at the Euro 2020.

 

Manchester City on Thursday announced the signing of “natural talent” Jack Grealish on a six-year deal from Aston Villa for a British record fee reported to be £100 million ($139 million).

City confirmed Grealish will wear the number 10 shirt, which was recently vacated by the departure to Barcelona of striker Sergio Aguero.

“I am incredibly happy to have joined Manchester City. City are the best team in the country with a manager considered to be the best in the world – it’s a dream come true to be part of this club,” Grealish, 25, said on www.mancity.com.

The fee shattered the previous British record of £89 million paid by Manchester United to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus in 2016.

“Over the past 10 seasons, City have won major trophies consistently. Pep Guardiola coming here has taken them to the next level and the football this team plays is the most exciting in Europe.

“To play for Pep and learn from him is going to be special and it’s something any top footballer would want.

“The facilities are amazing, and I honestly can’t wait to get started, meet everyone and get playing.”

City are reported to have activated a clause in Grealish’s contract that compelled Villa to accept their offer when it reached £100 million.

Grealish returned from holiday in Dubrovnik at the start of this week and resumed training while City hammered out the deal.

Having graduated from Villa’s youth academy, Grealish has spent his entire career at the club he supported as a boy, apart from a loan spell at Notts County in the 2013-14 season.

He has made 213 appearances for Villa since his debut in 2014, scoring 32 goals and laying on 43 assists.

Grealish, who had four years remaining on his Villa contract, scored six times in the league last season and provided 10 assists.

READ ALSOEriksen Visits Inter Training Ground Nearly Two Months After Euro Collapse

 ‘Incredible talent’ 

England's midfielder Jack Grealish greets the fans after their loss in the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP
England’s midfielder Jack Grealish greets the fans after their loss in the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021.
Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

He has never played in the Champions League and joining City gives him a chance to showcase his talents at the highest level.

The Villa captain’s four appearances for England during their run to the Euro 2020 final last month gave a glimpse of the quality that convinced City manager Pep Guardiola to make his move.

The deal is a major statement of intent by City ahead of the new season.

Grealish’s ability to prise open defences will give Guardiola another weapon as City look to defend the Premier League title.

Guardiola already has Grealish’s England team-mates Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling in creative attacking roles, with Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez giving the City manager an embarrassment of riches in the final third.

City face Leicester in the Community Shield at Wembley on Saturday before starting their Premier League campaign against Tottenham on August 15.

Man City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain hailed Grealish as “an incredible talent”.

“Jack’s development over the past few seasons both for club and country has been plain for everybody to see. His natural talent together with his commitment to improve as a player, has seen him become one of the most exciting attacking players in world football today.

“I am certain that the fans are going to love seeing him in our team. Pep loves the way he plays, and we all feel he is an ideal fit for Manchester City.”

“Our style and his style are a perfect match. I’m excited to watch him over the coming years.”

Grealish admitted it was not an easy decision to leave his boyhood club in Birmingham.

“It was obviously a difficult few months because I have been an Aston Villa fan for my whole life,” he added.

“But when I spoke to the manager here and you see what type of players they have got here, in the end it was something I couldn’t say no to. I am absolutely delighted to be here.”

AFP 

Jack Grealish Set To Complete £100m Move To Man City – Reports

 

Aston Villa’s English midfielder Jack Grealish wears a rainbow captain band during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on December 12, 2020.
Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP

 

Aston Villa playmaker, Jack Grealish, is set to join Manchester City for £100million today according to reports coming from England.

The Premier League champions had been in the running to sign Grealish and they have maintained a dogged pursuit, opening talks over their bid last week.

The 25-year-old is expected to earn in excess of £230,000-a-week at the Etihad Stadium.

Despite the ongoing transfer saga, Grealish had reported to training with Aston Villa on Monday after his holidays to the Greek islands of  Mykonos and Dubrovnik.

According to Daily mail, Grealish had been holding crunch talks with Aston Villa’s sporting director, Johan Lange earlier in the week stating his intention to move to the next stage of his career.

The Citizens are yet to make a comment on the move but it is understood that the deal could be completed before City’s Community Shield clash against Leicester City on Saturday.

Villa are also intent on challenging the top six in the Premier League and have completed the signing of Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey for £30m as a possible replacement for Grealish.