Can Manchester City continue winning run against Arsenal?

August 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Preview 

Manchester City travel to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon to face Arsenal in their first game of the new Premier League season. City are defending champions and are the bookies’ favourites to come out on top this weekend and retain the league title come May, whereas Arsenal’s expectations are to finish in the top-four and bring Champions League football back next season.

Last season, City thrashed the Gunners 3-0 at the Emirates, days after beating them 3-0 in the League Cup final. They won 3-0 at home months previously too, so they’ll be fancied for a repeat. However, it will be a new and improved Arsenal they’re coming up against, with new manager Unai Emery having recruited well to strengthen the weak areas of the squad over the summer. Arsenal will be a tough opponent on Sunday.

City tails up after Community Shield victory

The Sky Blues are coming off the back of a 2-0 win over Chelsea in the final of the Community Shield which will have done wonders for their confidence. City have added only one player to a squad which has differing levels of fitness due to the number of individuals who were at the 2018 World Cup in Russia over the summer – Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City.

Despite having a difficult juggling act to select a fully-fit side in the Community Shield, manager Pep Guardiola got the new season off to winners ways with yet more silverware against an opponent who could be challenging for the Premier League title this season. City played well and looked convincing winners, so they may have a minor edge over Arsenal who have failed to win two of their last three friendlies in 90 minutes.

Head-to-head record hints at a City victory to come

Manchester City have beaten Arsenal and scored three goals in each of their last three meetings in all competitions, losing only once since December 2015. City have been consistent against the Gunners, but playing at the Emirates might be an important factor.

Arsenal have only lost once at home to City in any competition since 2013 – they don’t often come unstuck in their own soil.

As for the manager head-to-heads, however, Guardiola has been dominant when coming up against Emery. In their last 10 meetings, Pep has won six and drawn four, losing none. It’s worth noting that each meeting is in La Liga when Guardiola was manager of Barcelona and Emery of Valencia.

Can he break the winless run on Sunday? Or will City reign supreme in this fixture once more?

Why aren’t Man City making an official bid for Pjanic?

July 31, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Rumors 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has played down talk of signing Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic this summer. The 28-year-old has been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium after Jorginho snubbed the Sky Blues and joined up with his old Napoli manager at Chelsea. Pjanic would be a great signing for City, as he’s a playmaker who scores and creates goals and seldom relinquishes possession. So why aren’t the Citizens making a bid?

Juventus asking for too much money

According to Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror, Juventus want £90m for the Bosnia-Herzegovina international, which would smash City’s transfer record. The club haven’t pulled off much transfer business this summer, only signing Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City, but it doesn’t appear they will meet Juve’s asking price to complete their second signing of the window.

The Old Lady signed Pjanic for a bargain in 2016, paying only £25m to AS Roma to bring him to Turin. He’s gone on to make 91 appearances in all competitions, scoring and creating 43 goals while winning two Serie A titles and two Coppa Italias. Last season, Pjanic contributed 21 goals in 44 games in all competitions.

He’s a talented player who could thrive under a manager like Pep Guardiola, but City aren’t going to pay £90m to bring him to the Etihad Stadium. It’s a blow as the central midfielder is perfectly suited to their style of play. Last season, he averaged 67 passes-per-game with a 90% completion ratio while averaging a tackle or interception every 25 minutes.

The player himself has tried to distance himself from rumours surrounding his Juventus future too, saying in a recent interview: “I listen to a lot of things that are not true. I’m cool. I’m preparing for my new season. That’s what’s the most important.

“What I did the last two seasons for Juventus was really great, and I am happy with what I’m doing here. I am cool, and I don’t care about what they are writing because I listen and I read a lot of things. A lot of things are not true.”

So, Pjanic may not come to the Etihad Stadium as a replacement for Jorginho unless Juventus lower their asking price. But considering the midfielder has three years remaining on his existing deal and is indispensable to the squad, why would they? Fans will surely be hoping they don’t give up on the Bosnia-Herzegovina playmaker, but Pjanic could prove to be an expensive pursuit.

Zinchenko to stay at Manchester City but is he good enough?

July 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Rumors 

Manchester City midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko recently revealed his desire to stay at the club despite an offer from Wolverhampton Wanderers being accepted by the Sky Blues this summer. His versatility got him playing time in 2017/18, operating as a makeshift left-back with Benjamin Mendy out injured, but it’s hard to see where he’ll fit into the team when everybody is fit. Nevertheless, he’s determined to stay in Manchester.

“To be honest, I think Manchester City is one of the best teams in the world right now. Everyone dreams of playing here, and that goes for me as well. I try to learn every single day and I’m going to fight here,” he said. “I’m ready for everything because I have to be professional. You don’t know what can happen in the future, but I’m dreaming of staying here. Everyone wants to be part of this team.”

After Chelsea beat City to the signature of Jorginho, manager Pep Guardiola stated his intention to use his midfielders on the bench and fringes of the first-team as cover. That meant the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Fabian Delph, Claudio Gomes and Zinchenko could play a somewhat important role next season. City reportedly accepted a £16m bid from Wolves for the young midfielder, however, suggesting he’s surplus to requirements.

And with only 14 appearances in all competitions after joining City from Ufa in 2016, the Ukrainian international has a tough task edging his way into the first-team. Zinchenko spent his debut campaign on loan at PSV Eindhoven and was utilised by Guardiola at left wing-back in his second season.  He’s a natural midfielder who can adapt to different roles, but there’s too much competition all over the squad.

The Sky Blues have Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva who are expected to operate in midfield, with Fernandinho anchoring, while Gundogan and Delph are waiting in the wings. In defence, Benjamin Mendy is expected to start the new season at left-back, but Delph provided a useful deputy when called upon.  Danilo has also featured on the left side of the defence.

It’s not a big surprise that Zinchenko wants to stay regardless, as City won the Premier League title with 100 points last season, but he’s unlikely to feature much in their title defence when looking at the players ahead of him in the pecking order. As a tactically-aware 21-year-old, Zinchenko would be a good signing for a lot of clubs, but is he good enough to stay at the Etihad?

Looks like Aguero will be staying at Manchester City next season

July 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News, Transfer Rumors 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was inundated with questions about the future of Sergio Aguero at the end of last season, with many outlets suggesting the Argentinean international could depart the Etihad Stadium. However, Guardiola always denied such a claim and it appears he was telling the truth considering the Sky Blues legend remains at the club ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Aguero, who has been at City since his 2011-move from Atletico Madrid, was the club’s top scorer last season, netting 21 goals in only 22 Premier League starts. The 30-year-old scored more than Raheem Sterling in fewer games but came away with little praise for his antics. He finally made the PFA Team of the Year for his antics last season, but media outlets still believed Guardiola would sell him. Why?

City have a club legend averaging close to a goal a game in the Premier League, so the Sky Blues boss will never let him go unless he was causing problems behind the scenes. And given Aguero revealed in June that his relationship with Guardiola is good and that he has no plans to leave the club this summer, the pair should continue working for at least another season.

The Argentine’s contract expires in 2020 and the striker has openly admitted he could return to his homeland when his deal is up at the Etihad. He’s been in Manchester for seven years, scoring a total of 199 goals in 292 games in all competitions and will play an important role in the squad next season.

Gabriel Jesus often replaced Aguero in the starting lineup last season and will be prominent in the starting eleven this coming campaign, but there’s still a place for the fan favourite. He’s scored 20 or more league goals in each of the last four seasons and only Harry Kane (105) has scored more than Aguero (91) during this period.

With the South American forward lacking the same athleticism and industry as Jesus, it’s of little surprise that Guardiola will occasionally rest Aguero, but his incredible goalscoring record means he’s always a threat when on the pitch. His advancing age will likely mean more appearances from the bench next season, but Aguero can still find the net in limited time.

Without him in the squad, City are short on depth in attack. Jesus, Aguero and Sterling at likely to be the first-team options up front for next season. It may seem obvious that Aguero is staying at the Etihad, but that wasn’t always the case earlier in the summer. Fans will be delighted the rumours have died down now.

Is Bernardo Silva under pressure after Mahrez’s arrival?

July 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Targets 

Pep Guardiola finally landed his man this summer, with Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez making the long-awaited switch to Manchester City. The 27-year-old has been angling for a move away from the Etihad Stadium for some time, but Leicester wouldn’t let him leave for less than his asking price.

Guardiola has pursued Mahrez for nearly 12 months despite boasting an attack that contains Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva., so where will the Algerian international feature for City?

Silva was in and out of the team last season due to the form of Sterling and Sane, coupled with his own inconsistency. He may find himself fall behind Mahrez in the pecking order, as there’s a reason Guardiola was willing to spend so much on the left-footed right-winger.

Mahrez is tried and tested in the Premier League

There’s no doubting Silva’s quality, but the 23-year-old hasn’t made the most convincing start in the Premier League. At Monaco, Silva would drift past players with ease and would create multiple chances for his teammates per game. His final season in Ligue 1 side saw him contribute 17 goals in 37 appearances, but his numbers are all considerably lower in England.

He’s scored and created 10 goals in 35 Premier League games, making fewer than one successful dribble per game and creating less than one chance per game. Silva has made 20 appearances from the bench, such is the lack of faith from Guardiola, but Mahrez will likely succeed where the Portuguese international has failed.

Mahrez is already a proven talent in the English top flight, winning a league title in 2016 where he was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year. He’s scored and created 59 goals in his last 109 games and has all the qualities to shine in a Guardiola side – off-the-ball movement, composure in possession, great range of passing and a good eye for goal.

Silva wasn’t a regular first-team player last season and his hopes of getting more game time in the senior squad will take a big hit thanks to Mahrez. The two players operate in similar roles on the pitch, cutting inside from the right to create a chance or have an effort at goal.

Mahrez has a better goal output than the player four years his junior and has been far more impressive in regard to his overall performances in the Premier League. It doesn’t appear Silva will be sold so soon, but Guardiola signing more competition in his position speaks volumes about his chances of regular playing time.

Gunn and Zinchenko could be moved on permanently by Man City this summer

June 29, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Rumors, Transfer Targets 

Manchester City goalkeeper Angus Gunn and midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko could be sold this summer, with the pair having little chance of getting regular first-team football next season.

The Sky Blues could be selling and loaning out more players than they bring in this summer, but the money generated could help to get some big deals over the line.

Southampton would be good move for Gunn

Gunn spent 2017/18 out on loan with former side Norwich City and is unlikely to dethrone Ederson as first-choice ‘keeper under Pep Guardiola. Claudio Bravo should remain the Brazilian’s back-up next season, meaning Gunn will be forced to move to continue his development and it appears that a permanent deal looks on the cards rather than another loan.

Southampton are reported to be in talks with City over a £15m deal for the 22-year-old who has yet to make a first-team appearances for the Sky Blues. Gunn is highly-rated and kept a respectable 16 clean sheets during his loan spell with Norwich last season. He’s also been called up to the England national team, although he’s yet to make an appearance.

Gunn would be a loss to City given his obvious potential, but if game time is going to allude him in Manchester, he has to seek out assurances elsewhere. Southampton are well known for developing young talents and may well give Gunn a chance from the start next season due to their issues between the sticks.

Mark Hughes’ men conceded 56 goals in the Premier League last season. Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster shared the goalkeeping responsibility. If a No.1 isn’t set in stone ahead of 2018/19, Gunn stands a chance of working his way up the pecking order.

Right move to sell Zinchenko

Further reports have suggested City midfielder Zinchenko is available for sale. The 21-year-old joined from Ufa in 2016, spent his debut season on loan at PSV Eindhoven before returning to his parent club and being used sparingly by Guardiola.

Zinchenko was often utilised as a makeshift left-back and left wing-back, a role that was previously alien to him as a central midfielder and chances were few and far between anyway. The Ukrainian international made just six Premier League starts last season, spending the majority of the campaign as an unused substitute or being left out of the matchday squad entirely.

City are believed to have received offers between £10m-£20m for his signature, but there’s no deal on the horizon with a suitor just yet. Zinchenko might be considering his future at the Etihad, as Benjamin Mendy, Danilo and Fabian Delph stand in his way at left-back, while Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin de Bruyne, Fernandinho and David Silva are ahead of him in the midfield pecking order.

If City can sell Gunn and Zinchenko for a good amount this summer, the money could be reinvested into transfer funds to help Jorginho’s move from Napoli and Riyad Mahrez’s move from Leicester City.

Why are Manchester City so desperate to sign Jorginho from Napoli?

June 7, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Targets 

After Manchester City were reported to be in advanced talks with Napoli over Jorginho, president Aurelio De Laurentiis revealed on Sunday that they had rejected a £44m bid from the Sky Blues for the Italian international’s signature.

According to Sky Sports, City have been keen on Jorginho since April and could pay a lofty asking price to bring him to the Etihad Stadium this summer. With Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan and Fabian Delph as his options in midfield, why does Pep Guardiola want Jorginho so much?

A worthy replacement for Fernandinho

Guardiola has a lot of midfielders in the City squad, but there’s nobody who can replace Fernandinho. The Brazilian international protects the backline and snuffs out any danger in the middle of the park, while also threading attacks and retaining possession.

Signed from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013, the 33-year-old has gone on to make 231 appearances in all competitions for City, winning two Premier League titles and three League Cups. Fernandinho was an unsung hero as the Sky Blues won the league title with 100 points last season. He averaged a tackle or interception every 26 minutes and made 88 passes-per-game with a 90% completion ratio.

Manchester City and Brazil midfielder Fernandinho.

He’s contracted with City until 2020 but Fernandinho is undoubtedly in the eve of his career and will need a long-term replacement. Jorginho looks to be that play. For Napoli, he sits in the middle of a midfield trio, protecting the backline without the ball and pulling the strings when in possession.

Like Fernandinho, Jorginho excels at turning over possession, averaging a tackle or interception every 24 minutes in the Serie A, but combative qualities aren’t solely enough for a Guardiola side – players need to be comfortable on the ball with speed of thought and good improvisation.

Qualities in possession make him a perfect fit for City

Jorginho isn’t just a defensive midfielder, he’s a player with fantastic vision who seldom relinquished possession. The Italian international always has his head up, looking for runs from his teammates. He can pick out any pass from nearly any distance and has the ability to put chances on a plate for others – creating 49 chances in 33 Serie A games last season.

At Napoli, Jorginho thrived having willing runners from wide areas to pick out when he was in possession. He’ll enjoy playing for Manchester City for the same reason. Guardiola’s men play direct when turning over possession to catch their opponent on the counter, utilising the pace from Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus to turn defence into attack in seconds.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is desperate to sign Jorginho.

And given City build their attacks from the back, often racking up a lot of passes in the middle third, having a player comfortable receiving the ball in tight areas and being able to improvise is essential. Jorginho is exactly that.

He racked up 97 passes-per-game on average for Napoli in Serie A last season, completing 90% of them. Guardiola might have to pay top dollar to secure his signature this summer, but he may be worth it.

Pep Guardiola only wants two additions to the Man City squad this summer

May 31, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Targets 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is reportedly only looking to make two signings this summer. After the Sky Blues won the Premier League title with 100 points, finishing 19 ahead of second place, it could be argued they barely need to strengthen.

Guardiola isn’t one to rest on his laurels, however, and will always be thinking ahead to ensure his squad is the strongest it can possibly be going into the season. He wants one replacement in every position in case of injury or a dip in form and there are two players on his shortlist who would complete City’s squad.

Mahrez will complete Man City’s attack

Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez looks on his way to the Etihad Stadium and will join Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane in the attack. The Algerian international has been a long-term target of Guardiola’s and would certainly add to the squad.

The 27-year-old scored and created 22 goals in 36 Premier League games last season and could be a more tried-and-tested option than Bernardo Silva who was inconsistent in his debut season for City and started only 15 of his 35 appearances. Mahrez is an upgrade, based on their comparative performances in the league.

Jorginho will eventually replace Fernandinho

So, Mahrez will complete the attack and Jorginho might be completing City’s midfield. The Napoli star is expected to sign for the Sky Blues this summer and would be an immediate replacement for Yaya Toure who left at the end of the season and a long-term replacement for 33-year-old Fernandinho.

Jorginho is a defensive-minded player who averaged a tackle and interception every 24 minutes in the Serie A last season, while creating 49 chances and making 97 passes-per-game – completing 90% of them. It’s not hard to see why Guardiola is keen on the 26-year-old.

Having someone comfortable in possession who can create chances and also break up the play is essential to City, and it will mean they have healthy competition for the holding role next season.

How Man City will line up next season

Assuming Guardiola sticks to a 4-1-2-2-1 formation next season, Manchester City may not make any notable changes to the starting lineup of 2017/18.

Ederson should remain between the sticks, while Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany partner each other at centre-back. John Stones and Aymeric Laporte will feature heavily at times too. Kyle Walker will keep his place at right-back while Benjamin Mendy should replace Fabian Delph at left-back.

Fernandinho should keep his place as the holding midfielder, although Jorginho will be given a lot of playing time if he signs for City as expected. Ilkay Gundogan will also be competing for minutes.

David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne will continue their midfield partnership, but a combination of Jorginho and Gundogan will be used when the pair need a rest. Guardiola may feel he needs one more midfielder.

Raheem Sterling was outstanding last season and will keep his place in attack, with Leroy Sane complimenting him on the opposite flank. Gabriel Jesus should get the nod ahead of Sergio Aguero up front, as his off-the-ball movement and industry fits Guardiola’s philosophy.

Man City XI for 2018/19: Ederson, Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Benjamin Mendy, Fernandinho, Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling

Guardiola isn’t giving up on trying to sign Mahrez

May 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer Targets 

Despite having three separate bids rejected in January, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is still desperate to sign Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez. The 27-year-old impressed for the Foxes last season and has made it clear that he’s open to joining a bigger club, so a deal was always dependent on the Sky Blues meeting his asking price.

City already have Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero for competition in attack, but Guardiola wants strength in depth in all positions to challenge on all four fronts next season. The Manchester giants appear to have made a breakthrough with Mahrez too, all but agreeing a £60m deal for the 27-year-old.

Mahrez has big ambition and great mental strength

After helping Leicester City win the Premier League title in 2015/16 and being named PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Mahrez wasn’t interested in resting on his laurels. The Algerian international was already planning to move to a bigger club, but he was denied a transfer.

After handing in a request, he refused to play for Leicester but quickly made a U-turn and made 36 league appearances the following season. Mahrez once again tried to leave, realising his career would become stagnant with the Midlands outfit, but Leicester wouldn’t budge.

Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez.

So, rather than strike again to force a move, Mahrez had one of his best-ever seasons, scoring and creating 23 goals in 36 league outings as Leicester finished in the top-half of the table. Now it appears City will let him leave this summer and it’s not hard to see why Guardiola pursued him for so long.

Mahrez has never rested on his laurels or been happy to settle, nor has he ever doubted his ability and potential. Even after being refused a move, he could still enjoy one of his best-ever seasons months later, so there’s no doubt the 27-year-old can hit the ground running in Manchester.

Bad news for Phil Foden, Patrick Roberts and maybe Bernardo Silva

If Mahrez joins, one or two existing players are likely to miss out. That could mean Phil Foden and Patrick Roberts have to be loaned out this summer to still get competitive football.

Bernardo Silva’s place in the side might be up for grabs too, with the 23-year-old having struggled in his debut season at the Etihad – 35 league games, six goals, four assists – so the Algerian’s arrival could be somewhat destabilising.

Manchester City forward Phil Foden.

Foden made only five appearances to pick up a Premier League winners’ medal last season and would have been hoping to feature more heavily after a year of being in and out of the first-team, but it looks like he’ll miss out. Roberts has made just three appearances since joining the club in 2015 and has been loaned out for two of those three years.

It’s hard to see him being in the squad next season, but Mahrez joining will make sure of it. Guardiola will have Sterling, Mahrez, Sane and Silva competing for two places in the City attack, so there may not be much room for any inexperienced youngsters. Nevertheless, Mahrez will improve the squad and could help City in their quest for European success.