Tag Archives: Manchester City

Dreamland for Liverpool or a City clean sweep? – Who will win the Premier League?

As game week 30 comes to a close, Manchester City led by Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool continue to battle it out for the league title, with none of the sides looking to slip up, both winning their games this weekend. The two-horse race is led by the Manchester club on 74 points followed closely by Liverpool on 73, making it very likely that the title will be excitingly wrapped up on the penultimate game.

The small point gap has made the title very difficult to predict, sparking debates all over the country. These debates have been aggravated by the fact that both teams have had large point advantages throughout the season and have both thrown them away, letting the other team back into the fight. It was only on the 19th January (7 games ago) that Liverpool had a huge 7 point advantage over City and only shortly prior to that on the 4thDecember that Man City had a 5 point lead at the summit. Looking at these statistics it seems like none of the clubs are prepared to give up the fight promising the last 8 games will live up to most fans expectations after an exciting season.

For a Liverpool fan this trophy is undoubtedly the one they want to win. Without a Premier League trophy in their history and not a top division title since 1990, the fans have had a long and painful wait to lift England’s finest silverware.

For City fans in recent years, winning the Premier League has been business as usual, but the trophy they are setting their sights on isthe Champions League, an honour the club has never won. With talks of aquadruple, could Pep’s men win everything and break Liverpool hearts along theway?

In this article I will have my say on the debate and make my predictions as to who will take the title.

It’s a squad game:

With 8 games to go an injury could shake up the title racedramatically, especially for Liverpool who have many key players who would betough to replace.

Liverpool mainly play a 4-3-3 but sometimes switch to a more defensive 4-2-3-1. When you look to Liverpool’s squad there are many positions that cannot be filled by a player of the same quality and they are extremely reliant on a consistent starting 11.

Starting with the attackers Liverpool have fielded the feared trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino consistently for the past 2 seasons in a team that are recognised for their attacking prowess rather than their defensive stability. In the 2017/2018 season they reached the Champions League final playing an electrifying, attacking brand of football which was brilliant to watch for a neutral fan. This season, 40/69 goals that Liverpool have scored in all competitions have been shared between the three. Looking to Liverpool’s bench they have: Xherdan Shaqiri who made a reported £13m move to the club this summer, Divock Origi, a part time player for Liverpool since 2014 and Daniel Sturridge, a player who has never been in favour under their current manager. No fan can argue that any of these are adequate replacements in this area and are not of the same quality meaning an injury could really shake up their titlepush.

In midfield, Liverpool are amuch stronger unit with many replacements. The signings of Fabinho and Kieta have really bolstered their midfield options adding to the likes of Milner,Henderson, Wijnaldum and Lallana. This gives the reds 6 options for 3 midfield positions,all players who are like for like in these areas. A key player for Klopp this season has been Fabinho, who signed from Monaco this summer for £44m. At the start of the season the big-Brazilian had to be patient for game time but since he has established himself as a key figure, playing the holding midfield role and helping the reds gain some much needed defensive stability.

Defensively Liverpool have improved massively this year and is one of the major reasons why they are pushing for the title. The signing of Virgil van Dijk has been a revolution and has silenced any doubter (including myself) who questioned the substantial transfer fee. The Dutchman has been tipped to be the Premier League’sbest defender this season and his colossal stature, pace, aerial presence and ability to read the game make him a truly all-round centre half. At the beginning of the season Liverpool were solid at the back conceding few goals lined up with a back 4 of Robertson, Van Dijk, Gomez and Alexander-Arnold. They got a lot of praise for beating smaller teams such as Leicester City, teams who Liverpool would usually slip up against and these results were put down to Liverpool’snew found defensive stability. Currently this back 4 is the same but Joel Matipis in for Joe Gomez who is suffering a long term injury. Like their attacking line up Liverpool will struggle to replace their defence if they were to be hit by injuries. Starting with their attacking full–backs, Robertson and the young Alexander-Arnold have recorded 16 assists between them. To cover these they have Moreno and James Milner who is usually first choice to fill in for the pair but thereplacements lack the attacking flair that is a huge asset to Liverpool. Butthe real trouble Liverpool face is in the centre-back positions. Currently with no other fit centre backs Liverpool are relying heavily on Matip and Van Dijk but an injury to any of them two could cause huge problems. Fabinho can play inthis position and did against Bayern Munich in a 0-0 draw in the Champions League, but this may not be a long term solution and could affect Liverpool’s attacking game.

Another reason for Liverpool’s defensive improvements has been the addition if Alisson Becker, who signed from Roma in the summer. For many seasons the Liverpool fans have grown frustrated about the goalkeeping situation and the lack of investment in this area. But the Champions League final was the final straw where Loris Karius was at fault for two Real Madrid goals. Alisson has been asolid addition for Liverpool and looks to be constantly improving while playing in the Premier League.

Unlike Liverpool, City have a terrific depth throughout their squad making it difficult to identify anybody who has a guaranteed place in the starting 11, with an exception of the goalkeeper Ederson. The Citizens also usually line up with a 4-3-3 formation.

Pep Guardiola has 6 key players to fill their front three positions. On the wing they boast Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and summer signing Riyad Mahrez. All of these players have been utilised equally by Pep throughout the Premier League season and have chipped in with goals and assists. In the lone striker position they have Sergio Aguero, a Premier League great and Gabriel Jesus, a young talent who Pep has transformed into a great player. All 6 of these players have great talent backed up by consistency under the current manager putting City in a strong position going forward.

Across the midfield, City are arguably even stronger. They have some of the best Premier League talents such as David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne aswell as Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Fabian Delph and Phil Foden. This packed out midfield will give Pep headaches over team selection every game but the manager is lucky to have all these options. This has been proven by the fact that star man Kevin De Bruyne has only made 14 Premier League appearances this season due to injury showing the strength in depth City have throughout their midfield. Without De Bruyne, City were able to push on and stay in the title race where as if Liverpool were to lose one of their star men such as Salah or Van Dijk they would struggle to replace.

I would say defensively is where Man City are at their weakest but still possess many options across the back. This season City have fielded, Walker, Danilo, Kompany, Stones, Laporte, Otamendi, Zinchenko andtransformed left-back Fabian Delph giving them 8 defensive options. Where as in previous years, City have relied on Vincent Kompany but have struggled due to his injury problems they now have a solid armoury of defenders who they canutilise.

There’s more to win than the Premier League:

Besides the Premier League both Liverpool and City are still competing in the Champions League who have second leg ties against Bayern Munich (A) and Schalke (H) respectively, ties that will be decided today (12th March) and tomorrow (13th March). On top of this the league leaders are still in the FA Cup who face Swansea City this weekend.

Predictions of Man City to win the quadruple have been made due to Pep’s ruthlessness in cup competitions. In a recent tie with Newport County, a team playing in the fourth division of English football, City fielded the likes of David Silva, Sane, Jesus and Mahrez guiding a team to a 4-1 win. With the League Cup already under their belts, this winning mentality in all competitions makes it likely that City will progress, who could still play a potential of 17 more games before the season is up. But with a big squad which Pep rotates regularly, the City boys have been able to deal with the busy fixture schedule up until now and which will prepare them going forward.

Liverpool have taken a more back seat in domestic cup competitions this season, getting knocked out in both the League Cup and FA Cup in their first test. They fielded weaker teams against both Chelsea and Wolves showing their ambition to focus on the Premier League and Champions League. This leaves Liverpool with 14 potential games to play, 3 less than City. Although it will be tough for Liverpool to qualify as they have to go the Allianz Arena on Wednesday on the back of a 0-0 at Anfield. A loss would leave them with only 8 more games to play.

As more games are played the chances of fatigue and injury are only going to increase, a problem that could seriously affect Liverpool dueto their scarce squad and lack of rotation. If they were to be knocked out ofthe Champions League they could focus entirely on the Premier League, this would benefit recovery, fitness and allow for them to prepare for each opponentin more depth.

Previous success:    

In recent years, City have won many domestic competitions creating a winning mentality around the club. Guardiola has added to this and in his time at City he has won the League Cup twice and the Premier League once.

At Liverpool, Klopp is yet to win a trophy, losing in 3 finals. Looking through their team there is a lack of players who have won competitions for other clubs. This raises question as to whether the Liverpool players will have the experience to cope with the huge pressure.

Key fixtures:

Liverpool:

Spurs (H) – Although Tottenham aren’t currently on form inthe Premier League they are top of the chasing pack and possess the likes of Kane, Erikson and Son. If they Spurs turn up they certainly have the quality tohurt Liverpool.

Chelsea (H) – We all remember the infamous Gerrard slip on game week 34 in 2014. Could Chelsea return to Anfield, again on game week 34 toprevent them from winning the title?

Man City:

Spurs (H) – Man City haven’t lost to Tottenham Hotspur since 2016. Could Spurs get revenge so close to the end of the season?

Man Utd (A) – A local derby at Old Trafford, The Red Devils high flying under Ole, could City drop crucial points and let Liverpool backin?

My Prediction:

I believe the team who will lift the Premier League on the12th May will be – Manchester City.

With one of the best squads in the league, their winning mentality and being led by one of the best coaches of the Premier League era itis difficult to look past the Manchester club.

Although, it’s football, it is unpredictable and with 8 games to go anybody can take the title. For me, if Liverpool get knocked out of the Champions League they are in serious contention to challenge. They can commit all their resources and preparation to the last 8 games compared to City who will be preparing for a potential of 17 games in the league, FA Cup and Champions League.

Whatever happens it is guaranteed that the last 8 games willbe full of twists and turns.

Who do you think will lift the title?

Matchday in Manchester – Hospitality Experience at The Etihad  

My day started off in a sports bar in Manchester. As a lifelong sports lover, I was watching the first half of the Six Nations game between England and Italy, before scurrying over to the Etihad to watch Manchester City play Watford. I had (much to my joy) been offered hospitality tickets to the game by a friend, so I was certain the day would be beyond satisfactory. With the rugby certainly heading England’s way, we were eager to head to the ground, so we frantically made our way there. 

The City fans were out in force on Saturday, and the atmosphere outside the ground was brilliant. I headed to the stunning glass fronted East Stand entrance, where there was a copious amount of staff, greeting fans with complimentary programmes and team sheets. It honestly felt that they really made a conscious effort to ensure all customers felt welcomed when arriving at the plush 1894 bar.

With kick off looming imminently I rushed up to get to my seat, making it just in time to see the players walk out. The roar from the crowd in The Etihad was immense, with everyone in the stadium on their feet to welcome the players.

It promised to be a cracking must win game, with Guardiola’s team sitting just 1 point above Liverpool at the summit of the Premier League table.

The hospitality seats were comfortable and padded, based directly on the half-way line in the middle tier, they couldn’t be better. I watched in consternation as the teams went into half time with the game level pegging. Hoping for the game to improve in the second half, I headed back into the bar for half time refreshments. There was a plentiful selection of food and beverages made available to the fans; the working staff had definitely made an effort to accommodate the paying customers. 

Marching back to my well-placed seats for the second half, I was expecting a better performance. Luckily for me and the rest of the spectators, Raheem Sterling was quick to get onto the scoresheet, scoring a well deserved hattrick early after the break. The Blues proceeded to sit 3-0 up for the majority of the game, before The Hornets caught them off guard and scraped one back. 

With City maintaining their foothold for the remainder of the encounter, the game finished 3-1.The atmosphere throughout the match was scintillating; both the home and away fans came in full voice and made themselves known. 

Overall, the matchday experience at The Etihad was luminous. As a City supporter myself, I was over the moon with the win. The service I received in the 1894 bar was beyond satisfactory, and personally I couldn’t fault the day. Although The Etihad has commonly received criticism for its lack of atmosphere and football culture, it showed itself in great light on matchday 30. I was thoroughly happy with my venture to the ground and will be looking forward to my next visit. 

 

Trouble for The Blues? UEFA launch investigation on Manchester City

Europe’s football governing body UEFA, announced on Thursday that they are commencing a formal investigation into Premier League champions, Manchester City, over alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.

The investigation follows the allegations published in German magazine Der Spiegel, who throughout their football leaks series, claimed that Manchester City ‘systematically broke UEFA’s FFP rules’. The magazine claims that

The magazine claims that among other financial discrepancies, City covered the cost of their sponsorship deals with their owners in Abu Dhabi, to bring more money to the club under UEFA’s radar.
This can have huge implications as if found guilty of breaking FFP, City could face a possible ban from the Champions League and even be sanctioned with a transfer embargo over a prolonged period of time.

It is thought that some of the information released by Der Spiegel was illegally accessed by Portuguese hacker Rui Pinto. Pinto has since been extradited from Hungary and is facing charges of hacking and illegally accessing information about the financial dealings of European giants Manchester City and Paris St. Germain.

In light of the allegations, at least 12 teams from the top flight are planning on writing to the Premier League, to identify their stance on the investigation, and enquire over if action will be taken against the league leaders.

City, who currently sit one point above Liverpool at the top of the league, immediately released a statement regarding the announcement of the investigation. “Manchester City welcomes the opening of a formal UEFA investigation as an opportunity to bring an end to the illegal hacking and out of context publication of City’s emails.”

Pep Guardiola’s team face FC Schalke on Tuesday in the Champions League, could this be their last time in the competition for some time?

Can Wolves break into the top 6 in the next three seasons?

Wolverhampton Wanderers are undoubtedly having a fantastic season currently sitting 7th in the premier league , will we see them push even further and challenge for the top 6?

Wolves have been a team to watch ever since the Fosun takeover in July 2016. The Wanderers have been very active in the transfer market over the past couple of seasons with the signing of key players such as Ruben Neves , Adama Traore , Rui Patricio , Diogo Jota and powerhouse central defender Wily Boly. Spending over 100 million it was a busy summer for Wolves however they managed to accumulate 20 million from outgoings.

17/18 Summary

On the 31st of May 2017 Nuno Espirito Santo was appointed Wolves boss. Wolves ended up having an immense season , winning the championship comfortably. Ruben Neves ended up living up to the hype and Wily Boly turned out to be an excellent loan signing. 3 of their players made the PFA championship team of the season.

18/19 So far

In pre season predictions Wolves were never specified in the relegation picture nonetheless they also weren’t deemed to be only one place behind Chelsea at this stage of the season. Wolves had a blistering start losing just one of their first eight games , additionally picking up 1-1 draws with both Manchester clubs. Despite the Wanderers having a poor run of games losing 6 out of 7 games in October through to the end of November. They were strong enough to bounce back with 3 wins in a row beating Chelsea , Newcastle and Bournemouth. Still in the FA Cup Wolves could potentially be going to Wembley, however a revolutionised Manchester United team stand in their way. Wolves have been consistently picking up points for the duration of the campaign and are set out for top 10 finish come may.

How can they break the deadlock of the top 6 ?

As many people believe there is a great boundary between the top 6 and the rest of the league , it tends to be because the “Top” teams can attract better players as a result of European football and their status in the game. Nevertheless Wolves have been able to attract many high calibre players such as Joao Moutinho , Rui Patricio and Diogo Jota. Wolves’ outstanding performance in the league will also increase interest from players around Europe as they will look to build on a solid season.

Wolves are now recognised as a rich club with ambitious owners , despite Wolves already achieving a considerable amount they want to accomplish more. Wolves already have a stable Premier league team and their owners are highly ambitious and keep injecting money into the club. Should Wolves finish 7th place and gain European football they will be able to take the next step up and attract top 6 quality players. Despite it being a challenging task we’ve seen many clubs break into the top 6 before. On the other hand clubs like Everton can never seem to break the top 6. Its clear that it takes good management to become a top 6 club , Nuno Espirito Santo has done a tremendous job therefore Wolves are the front runners to break into the top 6 . Fosun international stated earlier this year they are targeting to win the Premier league by 2025 , this obviously puts pressure on the management team and also states Wolves are an enthusiastic and determined to become a top English club. Providing Wolves sustain the improvement they have a prospect of finishing in the top 6 in the coming seasons.

Do you think Wolves can win the Premier League by 2025 ?


The top five best paid players in the Premier League

In a world where footballer’s wages and price tags are sky rocketing year on year, players at top clubs are able to become millionaires before ever having real success. This is amplified in the Premier League, the richest league in the world, where the top players worldwide are attracted due to the huge amount of money on offer. But amongst these giants of the Premier League, who rises above all else as the wealthiest of the wealthy.

5)Mesut Ozil- £260,000 a week

The first player to make this list is German playmaker Mesut Ozil,who reportedly pockets a huge £260,000 a week. Ozil  has a trophy cabinet rammed full with the games greatest honours and has healthy goal and assist stats year on year, but yet he still isn’t shown the respect he maybe deserves. His nation have turned their back on him and the vast majority of Premier League fans doubt his attitude and performances in the big games. But one thing not being disputed, on his day, there are few better.

4) Gonzalo Higuain- £267,000 a week

The Argentine goal grabber only joined Chelsea this January on loan from Italian giants Juventus, but he jumps straight into the top 5 with his whopping £267,000 a week wage packet. He has been one of the standout strikers in the world over the last decade, but was forced out of Turin to make way for Cristiano Ronaldo last summer. His 6 month loan stay at AC Milan during the first half of this season didn’t provide the goals that he is accustom to, but it should be interesting to see how he gets on in his first stint on English shores, especially considering Chelsea’s checkered history with strikers.

3) Paul Pogba- £287,000 a week

The mercurial midfielder Pogba is coming off of potentially the defining moment of his career last year, as he won the World Cup with his native France, playing a key role on route, even scoring in the final. For United he has too often blown hot and cold since his summer 2016 arrival, going from unstoppable to unwatchable in a matter of matches. Post Mourinho his form has dramatically improved, under the tutelage of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he looks a player reborn, but the Frenchman must remain at this level in order to justify his huge price tag and wages.

2) Alexis Sanchez- £312,000 a week

Trying to work out how one of the best players in the Premier League has so drastically declined in such a short space of time is a modern day mystery. Sanchez at Arsenal were a force to be reckoned with, the workaholic winger never stopped running, scoring or assisting before his January 2018 switch to Old Trafford. Since then he has managed a measly five goals in fourteen months, and looked a shadow of his former self. With pressure from fans mounting, the Chilean must rekindle his old Latin fire in order to kick-start his United career.

1) Kevin De Bruyne £318,000 a week

The classy attacking midfielder has been without a doubt one of the best players in the Premier League over the last few seasons, and sits top of the wage list as a result of this. The Belgian adapted seamlessly to Pep Guardiola’s tactics and upped his game in the process, earning himself a new contract in January 2018. His season has been blighted by injury, and he has only managed fourteen league appearances and one goal so far, in comparison he already had seven goals and 14 assists by the start of March last year. The blue side of Manchester will be hoping he can overcome his injury troubles in time to fire City to their fourth title of the Sheikh Mansour era.

Do you think the cost of these player’s wages reflect their value and ability as part of their respective teams?