Gabriel Jesus Stars As Man City Beat Everton

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (C) celebrates after scoring their second goal of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on January 1, 2020.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Gabriel Jesus extended his remarkable record against Everton as the Manchester City striker’s second-half brace sealed a 2-1 win on Wednesday.

Jesus was handed the start as City manager Pep Guardiola rested Sergio Aguero, but the decision to select the Brazilian ahead of the club’s record goalscorer could easily have been inspired by his mastery of Everton.

Repaying his manager’s faith, Jesus feasted on the Everton defence once again.

He has now scored seven times in his last five appearances against the Merseyside club, who must be sick of the sight of him.

City remain third in the Premier League after a second successive win left them 11 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, who have two games in hand on the champions.

READ ALSO: Leicester Keep Title Hope Alive After Newcastle Win

Richarlison got one back for Everton, but it was a first defeat for new boss Carlo Ancelotti, who had masterminded wins over Burnley and Newcastle in his first two matches since replacing the sacked Marco Silva.

The former Chelsea chief got the better of Guardiola in their previous meeting — two Real Madrid wins against Bayern Munich in the 2014 Champions League semi-finals.

There would be no repeat against a City side with a point to prove after a spluttering end to 2019.

City won 10 trophies, including four Premier League titles, in the decade just closed, but Liverpool’s remarkable form over the last 18 months is a serious threat to that dominance.

Guardiola has already conceded City have no chance of catching Liverpool this season, instead setting his sights on a more sustained challenge next term by admitting they need to “play better and pray”.

There was no need for divine intervention against Everton, although with Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker among those left out by Guardiola, the visitors nearly snatched a shock lead when Seamus Coleman’s volley forced a one-handed save from Claudio Bravo.

Nervous Finale

City thought they had taken the lead when Phil Foden met Joao Cancelo’s cross with a close-range finish in the 13th minute.

But the hosts’ celebrations were curtailed by VAR as the goal was ruled out for a tight offside against Riyad Mahrez, who had supplied the pass to Cancelo.

It was the latest VAR decision to go against City this season and Mahrez responded with a stinging drive that forced a good save from Pickford.

City should have been in front just before half-time when Jesus picked out Mahrez in space in the area, yet the Algerian dragged his shot wide.

Guardiola’s team have failed to score a first-half goal in six of their last eight home league games.

But they only needed six minutes to take the lead after the break.

Ilkay Gundogan’s pass split the Everton defence and Jesus took a touch inside before a curling a fine finish into the far corner.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin had five goals in his last five appearances and the Everton forward nearly grabbed an instant equaliser with a close-range header that flashed wide.

It was a crucial moment as Jesus struck again in the 58th minute.

Kevin De Bruyne teed up Foden and he found Mahrez as City carved opened the Everton defence before Jesus applied the finishing touch with a powerful low drive for his 13th goal of the season.

City went to sleep in the 71st minute, allowing Richarlison to slot home after Claudio Bravo made a hash of passing to Fernandinho.

Jesus wasted a chance to kill off Everton when his close-range shot smacked the post in a nervous finale, but City held on.

AFP

Jesus Dreams To Edge Aguero In Scoring Spree

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus shoots to score their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Manchester City at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on December 3, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Gabriel Jesus ended his eight match goal drought with a brace in Manchester City’s 4-1 victory over Burnley on Tuesday and hopes this can spark him into emulating team-mate Sergio Aguero’s scoring rate.

The 22-year-old Brazilian has got his chance to lead the City line, and will do so again in the Manchester derby on Saturday, because record goalscorer Aguero is injured.

Jesus — bought for a reported £27 million ($35 million) from Palmeiras in the January transfer window in 2017 — said he is confident in his abilities as a goal scorer but just needs to follow 31-year-old Aguero’s example.

Aguero, who is out with a thigh injury, has scored nine goals in 12 Premier League appearances this season and 173 in 251 league games overall for City at a rate of 0.69 per match.

“I know my qualities — I know I can score,” Jesus said after the match.

“I have to score when I play.

“Sergio scores every time. That is my ambition.

“I want to play and score every time.”

Jesus said the victory was also a confidence booster for the defending champions after an indifferent run  which brought one victory in five games in all competitions prior to the Burnley clash.

City reduced the deficit between themselves and leaders Liverpool to eight points, although it can go back to 11 if the Champions League holders beat city rivals Everton later on Wednesday.

“It is a confidence (booster) for us. This time the Premier League is so difficult,” he said.

“Liverpool are now eight points in front of us. We have to play all the matches like a final to win.”

AFP

Injury Rules Aguero Out For ‘A Few Weeks’

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (L) gestures to Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (R) as he leaves the pitch during the English Premier League football match against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on November 23, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Manchester City are expected to be without striker Sergio Aguero for “a few weeks”, according to boss Pep Guardiola.

The Argentine sustained the injury during Saturday’s 2-1 win against Chelsea, with Guardiola unclear as to the exact nature of the problem.

In his press conference to preview Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk, Guardiola said: “Sergio will be out for a few games, a few weeks. I don’t know exactly.

“(The injury) is at the front.”

Gabriel Jesus can expect to feature more prominently in Aguero’s absence, and he said: “I am not happy Sergio is injured.

“I don’t like it when my friends are injured, but every day I work hard and I am ready.”

Manchester City will be through to the knockout phase of the Champions League if they avoid defeat against Shakhtar or if Dinamo Zagreb do not beat Atalanta.

City will be confirmed in top spot if they win, or if they draw and Dinamo do not win.

Guardiola said: “The position we have is good but we have not qualified yet. Tomorrow is a chance.”

AFP

Messi, Aguero Will Have To Sweat Against Brazil, Says Gabriel Jesus

Argentina’s Sergio Aguero (R) celebrates with Argentina’s Lionel Messi after scoring against Qatar during their Copa America football tournament group match at the Gremio Arena in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on June 23, 2019. PHOTO: Carl DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Argentina forwards Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero will have to sweat if they’re going to break down Brazil’s watertight defence in their Copa America semi-final, says Selecao striker Gabriel Jesus.

Hosts Brazil have yet to concede a goal in four matches at the Copa while Argentina have improved defensively and kept clean sheets in their last two matches.

Jesus expects a tight contest in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday and says Brazil’s defence won’t give Argentina’s forward line an inch.

“It’s tough to get behind a defence that doesn’t concede goals,” the Manchester City forward said of Argentina’s backline.

“It’s also a long time since we conceded a goal. It’s very important to have a solid defence.

“But it won’t be easy for Argentina to get behind us. Obviously they have Messi who is the best player in the world, and they have Aguero, one of the best center-forwards, but they’re going to have to sweat to get in behind.”

Jesus said he was sure “Argentina will attack us” and he’s looking forward to joking around with his City team-mates Aguero and center-back Nicolas Otamendi, but only after the match.

What’s clear, though, is that this is the most keenly anticipated match on the continent, between the two regional giants.

Brazil are the most successful team in World Cup history with five titles to Argentina’s two, but at a continental level, the roles are reversed as Argentina have won the Copa 14 times compared to eight for Brazil.

Should Argentina win again, they would match Uruguay’s record of 15 titles.

“These are two giants, from countries with a lot of history,” said Jesus.

“We’re playing at home and we have more pressure to win, but it’s a ‘clasico’ against Argentina.”

These two sides’ defenses have been on top so far but given the attacking talent that will be on show, a goalless draw would be unthinkable, even though there have been three already in the knock-out stages out of four matches.

Brazil will likely line up with Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino flanked by Jesus and the exciting Gremio forward Everton, a reported target for Manchester City.

Argentina are almost certainly sure to stick to the trio that played their last two matches — 2-0 victories over Qatar and Venezuela — with Lautaro Martinez joiningMessiand Aguero.

 ‘Best in the world’

But there is one name that most occupies the thoughts of Brazil center-back Thiago Silva, and that’s Messi.

The Paris Saint-Germain defender has painful memories of a Messi in full flow. He and Marquinhos, hia center-back partner for club and country, were torn apart in Barcelona’s famous 6-1 Champions League victory over PSG in 2017 that overturned a 4-0 first leg deficit.

Messi scored Barca’s third goal that day.

“Obviously no matter how much attention you pay it doesn’t count for much against the best player in the world,” said Silva.

“Whenever we play against him for the national team or in the Champions League, it’s difficult.

“No matter how much you study him, you’ll never be able to understand the difference he can make.

“In the decisive moments, you think he’ll do one thing, and he pulls out of his hat something that you never expected. That’s the difference.

“But now it’s Brazil against Argentina and we’ll try to defend our end and admire him some other day.”

The semi-final has got everyone excited for what will be the 106th official FIFA-recognized meeting between the two rivals.

Brazil lead the head-to-head record with 41 wins to 38 and 26 draws.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni wants his players to put aside that historic rivalry, though, and treat this simply as a major tournament semi-final with a final at stake for the winners.

“We need to play this, not like just another match, but like a Copa America semi-final, no matter who it’s against,” said Scaloni.

“We can’t think about playing our greatest rivals. That amplifies the legend.

“We’re going to try to impose our game and do what will give us an advantage,” he added.

AFP

Aguero Back For City’s Tottenham Champions League Showdown

Aguero Back For City's Tottenham Champions League Showdown
Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero gestures on April 6, 2019. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Sergio Aguero was fit to take his place in Manchester City’s starting line-up for their Champions League quarter-final first leg at Tottenham on Tuesday.

Aguero had missed City’s last two matches against Cardiff and Brighton after suffering a muscle injury during their Premier League win at Fulham on March 30.

But the Argentine striker, City’s all-time leading goal-scorer, was declared ready to return for the clash with their Premier League rivals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

READ ALSO: Netanyahu, Gantz Claim Victory In Israeli Polls

City manager Pep Guardiola, hoping to win an unprecedented quadruple this season, freshened up his team with four changes following their lethargic 1-0 FA Cup semi-final victory against Brighton on Saturday.

Aguero replaced Gabriel Jesus, who scored the winner against Brighton, while Fabian Delph played at left-back instead of Benjamin Mendy.

Riyad Mahrez came in for Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho was selected instead of Kevin De Bruyne.

Tottenham were at full strength for their first Champions League quarter-final since 2011.

Mauricio Pochettino handed a place to midfielder Harry Winks, who is making his first start since the beginning of March following a groin injury.

Harry Kane led the Tottenham attack, with Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min in support.

Starting line-ups for the Champions League quarter-final, first leg between Tottenham and Manchester City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday (kick-off 1900 GMT):

Tottenham (4-2-3-1)

Hugo Lloris (capt); Kieran Trippier, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose; Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks; Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Son Heung-Min; Harry Kane

Coach: Mauricio Pochettino (ARG)

Manchester City (4-2-3-1)

Ederson; Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte, Fabian Delph; Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan; Riyad Mahrez, David Silva (capt), Raheem Sterling; Sergio Aguero

Coach: Pep Guardiola (ESP)

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (NED)

AFP

Aguero Might Miss Watford Clash Over Injury – Guardiola

Guardiola Unsure How Long Aguero Will Be Out
Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola looks on as Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero goes down with an injury during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on February 10, 2018. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola admits Sergio Aguero is a doubt for Manchester City’s Premier League trip to Watford on Tuesday because of a muscle problem.

Aguero missed City’s 3-1 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday with a muscle strain, Argentina forward watching from the stands as Guardiola’s team moved five points clear at the top of the table.

Gabriel Jesus was given a first league start since September 1 as Aguero sat out, but the Brazilian did not score, with Raheem Sterling the key figure as City secured a sixth successive league victory.

Sterling restored City’s lead with a close-range finish early in the second half after Bournemouth had gone in level at the interval when Callum Wilson’s header cancelled out Bernardo Silva’s opener.

A City side showing five changes produced an uneven performance, and victory was only made certain when Ilkay Gundogan touched in Leroy Sane’s low cross with 11 minutes left at the Etihad Stadium.

Aguero is City’s leading scorer this season, with 12 goals in all competitions.

And although Sterling has now equalled his league total of eight, Guardiola acknowledged Aguero would be missed if he doesn’t recover for the trip to Watford in midweek.

“I don’t know if Aguero will be fit. We will see. I base my decisions on doctors, physios, instinct and what I see. There are many reasons,” Guardiola said.

Guardiola acknowledged his team’s first-half performance was “flat”, but he was pleased to come away with a victory – his 400th as a manager – after a testing 2-2 Champions League draw at Lyon on Tuesday.

He claimed his attempt to improve the players against Bournemouth with a half-time team-talk did not work as well as he would have liked and was grateful to Sterling for making the difference in the second half.

 Ridiculous speech 

“It was a good win. After the Champions League, it is always tough,” Guardiola said.

“We had a lack of rhythm in the first half. Bournemouth are so fast up front and so hard to play against. They put so many balls into the box – they are so strong.

“We were flat but after, we were more aggressive and we changed the game. I asked them for more at half-time but my speech was ridiculous because in the first five or 10 minutes, it didn’t work – it was the same as the first half.

“Raheem Sterling changed the game and Leroy Sane was fantastic too. I don’t know what he ate but it will be on the menu for the next games.”

Sterling has made a habit of profiting against Bournemouth and has now scored in each of his six Premier League appearances against them.

He almost scored a remarkable individual goal minutes before he did find the net, producing a mazy run past five opponents before seeing his shot deflect off Andrew Surman against the post.

By contrast, the finish for his goal was relatively straightforward, albeit after a stylish build-up, as he fed a pass for Danilo to shoot, then swept in the rebound after goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has failed to hold the ball.

Bournemouth, despite falling to a fourth successive league defeat, had plenty of reason for encouragement in their performance, and perhaps deserved more than their one goal, headed in by Wilson from a Simon Francis cross.

Cherries boss Eddie Howe said: “We nullified them for long periods and had moments ourselves when the ball could have bounced our way. It was a good time to score, right on halftime.

“We haven’t done enough defensively and weren’t clinical enough in attack. We have an honest group of players and I can’t fault them at all.”

AFP

Man City’s Record Scorer Aguero Extends Stay

File photo of Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero picture taken on September 19, 2018. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero extended his stay with the Premier League champions on Friday, signing a one-year contract extension.

The 30-year-old Argentina international — who broke the record last season and whose tally stands at 204 — put pen to paper on a deal that will see him through to the end of the 2021 season.

“I am happy for this additional year,” said Aguero in a club statement.

“My idea was being here for 10 years. I’ve been here for seven years, it’s going to be 10 when the contract expires.

“This was the main reason I signed. I’m very happy because they have treated me very well since the first day I got here.”

Txiki Begiristain, Manchester City’s director of football, said Aguero — who has been left out at times by manager Pep Guardiola in the last two years for Brazilian Gabriel Jesus — retained his status as one of the club’s most pivotal players.

“We are delighted that Sergio is extending his stay at Manchester City,” said Begiristain.

“He has been so important to this club since his arrival in 2011 and he remains at the forefront of what we are want to achieve in the coming years.

“We are fortunate to have had one of the best strikers in the world at our club for so many years.”

AFP

Aguero Bags Treble As Rampant City Hit Huddersfield For Six

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) kisses Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (L) as Aguero leaves the pitch substituted just after completing his hattrick during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Huddersfield Town at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on August 19, 2018.
Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

Sergio Aguero hit a hat-trick as Manchester City’s record-breaking forward inspired a 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s champions opened their home campaign with a pre-match display of ticker tape and exploding fireworks and Aguero continued the pyrotechnics on the field.

Aguero, who turned 30 in the close-season, has now scored 14 times in his last eight Premier League games at City’s Etihad Stadium.

The Argentina star — City’s all-time leading scorer — joins former Liverpool forward Robbie Fowler on nine Premier League hat-tricks.

Only ex-Newcastle and Blackburn star Alan Shearer has scored more in the competition’s history with 11.

City’s rampant display underlined why they are such strong favourites to retain their title.

Such is City’s strength in depth, Guardiola was able to leave Kyle Walker, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling on the bench.

And even though City learned this week that playmaker Kevin De Bruyne will be out for up to three months with a knee injury, the fact Guardiola was able to name substitutes which cost his club £230 million ($293 million) in transfer fees, was a sobering thought for their rivals.

After relentless City pressure, which featured Guardiola’s team having 80 percent possession, the champions finally took the lead on 25 minutes, the start of a three-goal blitz inside 10 minutes.

Ederson, Guardiola’s ball-playing goalkeeper, struck a magnificent pass over 60 yards, isolating Aguero against defender Christopher Schindler.

The Argentine skilfully held off his marker, twisting and turning before lobbing the ball over keeper Ben Hamer, who had advanced to the edge of his area, from the edge of the area.

Six minutes later, Benjamin Mendy attacked down the left, exchanging passes with Gabriel Jesus, who enjoyed a fortunate ricochet off a defender before drilling the ball home.

And the rout continued when Hamer fumbled a routine Mendy cross and Aguero pounced, tapping in from six yards.

Majestic City 

David Silva had set the tone with a majestic opening half-hour, torturing the Huddersfield defence and allowing the City supporters to forget about the absence of De Bruyne.

But, incredibly, Huddersfield scored from their first attack of the game, three minutes before the interval.

Philip Billing’s long throw-in was helped on by Steve Mounie and Jon Gorenc Stankovic responded quickly, forcing the ball in from six yards.

If that gave Guardiola something to ponder at the interval, it required just three minutes of the second half for Silva to restore City’s three-goal cushion.

The former Spain international, who this week announced his retirement from his national team, curled a magnificent 25-yard left-foot free-kick into the top right-hand corner of the Huddersfield goal.

Silva, who became the third City player after Joe Hart and Richard Dunne to appear in 250 Premier League games for the club, made way for Mahrez after 64 minutes but there was no let-up for the visitors.

Aguero might have claimed his hat-trick earlier, with a 56th-minute shot that struck the Huddersfield post, while Hamer also turned around his shot around a post after 70 minutes.

Five minutes later, Aguero had his third — and his 31st league game in which he has scored multiple goals.

The striker met yet another dangerous left-wing cross from Mendy, twisting acrobatically to shoot across his body and into the goal from six yards.

That allowed Guardiola to take off Aguero, replacing him with Leroy Sane who helped wrap up the scoring after 84 minutes with a run and shot which took a fortunate rebound off Terence Kongolo on its way into the net.

Club Link-up With Messi ‘Impossible’, Says Aguero

Club Link-up With Messi 'Impossible', Says Aguero
Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero waits for the ball during a football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on January 20, 2018. Oli SCARFF / AFPOli SCARFF / AFP

 

Sergio Aguero says he will probably never play alongside close friend Lionel Messi at club level as he is staying at Manchester City and his compatriot will never leave Barcelona.

Argentine Aguero also explained that he has suffered from a knee injury since 2013 but that surgery has left him “feeling like new” ahead of the World Cup.

He is set to join forces with Messi in Russia, where Argentina will be among the favourites despite a 6-1 hammering by Spain in March.

Despite their friendship, Aguero dismissed any likelihood they might one day wear the same club colours.

“I think it’s impossible,” Aguero told Argentinian television channel TyC Sports on Thursday.

“Before there were possibilities but we are now at an age where Leo is going to end up being at Barcelona and for now, I will end up staying at City.”

Aguero scored 21 goals for City in the Premier League this season despite it being cut short after he aggravated an injury to his right knee.

The 29-year-old planned to put off surgery while City remained in the Champions League but when they were knocked out by Liverpool, his thoughts turned to the World Cup.

“After five years, I feel like new in my knee,” Aguero said, having undergone an operation in April.

“The truth is that since 2013 I have been suffering with my knee — that season I had problems, after 2014 I had problems — something always bothered me in the knee.

“I spoke with the Manchester City doctors this season and said, ‘we are going to wait because we have the Champions League’. But it did not improve.

“Pep supported me a lot, told me to stay calm and after we lost in the Champions League I talked to the doctors and told them I did not feel well. I said I preferred to do surgery because I could have missed the World Cup.”

On his fitness for the upcoming tournament, Aguero added: “I am fit, and I will arrive more rested than many others.”

AFP

Sergio Aguero’s Season Over, Says Guardiola

Guardiola Calls Aguero Legend After 101th Goal For City
Sergio Aguero  Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Argentine international Sergio Aguero’s club season is over following a minor knee operation, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said on Friday.

Argentine international Sergio Aguero’s club season is over following a minor knee operation, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said on Friday.

Guardiola, whose side secured the Premier League title last Sunday, said he would be sidelined for four to five weeks at his press conference.

Aguero is City’s top scorer with 30 goals in all competitions. The injury, suffered in training on March 10, does not appear to rule him out of Argentina’s World Cup campaign.

Asked if the striker’s season was over, Guardiola said: “Here, yeah. He will be out for four or five weeks. He is in Barcelona right now. We are going to fight to get him to the World Cup.”

The World Cup, in Russia, starts in mid-June.

Manchester City’s Title Triumph: Five Key Players

Manchester City's Title Triumph: Five Key Players
Manchester City’s Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson gets the ball during the UEFA Champions League first leg quarter-final football match against Liverpool at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north-west England on April 4, 2018. PAUL ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester City sealed the Premier League title on Sunday when local rivals Manchester United suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to West Brom.

Despite blowing the chance to win the league against United last weekend, City still matched United’s record by claiming the title with five games to spare.

READ ALSO: Manchester City Crowned Premier League Champions

Much of the praise has gone to manager Pep Guardiola for moulding a side being compared to the greatest-ever teams to win the English top flight.

But backed by free-spending Abu Dhabi owners, Guardiola has had plenty of talent to work with.

AFP Sport looks at five of the key players in City’s title triumph.

Ederson

Guardiola showed his ruthless streak after a disappointing first campaign in charge, snapping up goalkeeper Ederson for £35 million ($49 million) within three weeks of the end of the season.

Much of the blame for Guardiola’s first-season struggles was pinned on a series of errors from Claudio Bravo, brought from Barcelona to replace the ostracised Joe Hart.

In contrast to Bravo, Ederson has been solid when called upon to make saves. But, crucially, he is even better with his feet, which suits Guardiola’s style.

The Brazilian’s long-range passing to launch City on the counter-attack and beat any high press employed by opponents has been a regular feature of the season, adding another weapon to City’s frightening attacking arsenal.

Kevin De Bruyne

The man most often picked out by Guardiola himself as the heartbeat of this City side, Kevin De Bruyne looks set to battle with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah for the Premier League player of the year awards.

The Belgian leads the league in assists but he offers far more than raw numbers.

“He is the best example and he helps us to be a better club, a better institution for the future,” Guardiola said after De Bruyne led a 4-1 destruction of Tottenham Hotspur in November.

David Silva

If De Bruyne doesn’t get you, David Silva likely will. Having two natural playmakers in the same midfield has made City almost impossible to stop in the same way Guardiola harnessed the brilliant best from Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta in a glorious four-year spell at Barcelona from 2008 to 2012.

“I think David is also one of the best this season,” said De Bruyne.

“Since I came here he has been unbelievable. He helped my game in a lot of ways.”

Silva has also chipped in with his share of important goals — opening the scoring in the first Manchester derby of the season at Old Trafford.

His telling contribution is all the more outstanding given the Spaniard has had to spend a lot of time back in his homeland between games after the premature birth of his son in December.

Raheem Sterling

The beneficial effects of Guardiola’s coaching are clear-cut in the case of Raheem Sterling as the 23-year-old has come of age this season to deliver on his abundant potential.

The England international is City’s second-highest scorer behind Sergio Aguero but his goals have also come at some key moments on their road to the title.

Guardiola’s men were on course to drop points in two of their opening three games until Sterling’s 97th-minute winner at Bournemouth back in August kicked off an 18-match winning run in the league.

That streak was kept alive as Sterling also struck late twice in three days in late November to edge out Huddersfield and Southampton 2-1 to demoralise the chasing pack.

Sergio Aguero

In City’s mega-rich era, managers and players have come and gone but one constant has largely remained — Sergio Aguero’s goalscoring.

The Argentine, who joined the club in 2011, is now City’s all-time leading goalscorer and has enjoyed another bumper season.

Initially challenged for his place in the team by Gabriel Jesus when the Brazilian arrived last January, Aguero has reestablished himself as City’s number one striker.

AFP

Guardiola Unsure How Long Aguero Will Be Out

Guardiola Unsure How Long Aguero Will Be Out
(Files) Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola looks on as Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero goes down with an injury during a football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on February 10, 2018. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has admitted he does not know how long he will be without star striker Sergio Aguero.

Aguero will miss City’s trip to Tottenham on Saturday after a challenge by Ashley Young in last weekend’s Manchester derby aggravated a problem in his knee.

The Manchester United full-back was not punished for the studs-up tackle, which left Aguero floored late in the second half.

Aguero has not started for the Premier League leaders since a 1-0 win over Chelsea at the beginning of March.

Now Guardiola cannot say for certain when City’s all-time leading scorer will be available again.

“We cannot forget he was two months injured. He made a huge effort because after the action from Ashley Young against United he had a problem with his knee. He could not train,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

“He was injured before the (Liverpool) game but made a huge effort to help us for 10 to 15 minutes. That’s why he could not play from the beginning.

“People talked a lot, not knowing exactly what happened before the game. He was not ready.”

Argentina international Aguero came off the bench as City attempted to salvage their Champions League tie with Liverpool on Tuesday.

They were trying to overturn a three-goal first-leg deficit and were level at 1-1 in the return game when the striker was introduced, but lost 2-1.

“He played the last 10 to 15 minutes and after the game said he had a lot of pain and could not run,” Guardiola added.

“After that game I don’t know if he’ll be ready for the Swansea game (on April 22).

“So hopefully he’ll be ready for the last games if we need him and for his World Cup.”

– Injury problems –

Guardiola is facing a selection headache for the Tottenham game, with the Spaniard saying he has 14 available players “plus the kids”.

Benjamin Mendy is still recovering from a long-term cruciate knee ligament injury, John Stones has been ruled out with a thigh problem, and Fernandinho is suspended.

But Guardiola wants to see his team get back to where they were before their dip in form with three successive defeats in the last week.

Despite crashing out of Europe in midweek, City could be crowned champions this weekend if they beat Tottenham and second-placed Manchester United lose at home to West Brom on Sunday.

“We have to try to be who we were during the season and think we need five points,” Guardiola said.

“We are 13 points ahead plus goal difference and we deserve to be there. In the Premier League, we won the last five in a row except United.

“The results were good. It’s just thinking about what Tottenham’s strengths are and trying to win the game.”

After the wobble, which saw City fail to secure the league title against United and get knocked out of the Champions League to Liverpool, Guardiola believes his side can get the job done soon.

“We need to win two games. As soon as we win the first one, the second one will be easier. You have to try to win the first one,” he said.

“One of the successes we’ve had this season is that when we’ve dropped points, the next five is winning, winning, winning. That’s why we are there.

“All the other contenders, after losing a game, have maybe lost another one — and we didn’t do that.

“This week is the first time and it was in different competitions.”

AFP