Doom merchants fail to see Man City’s improvement under Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola arrived as the most highlighted coach of the World in the Premier League. It was a great achievement for Manchester City to join and also remain as a part of the elite of European football.

After the sudden takeover of Sheikh Mansour in September 2008, it has been a difficult journey for Manchester City. The club used to eat its way through managers in their previous times just for the sake of fun. But in the nine year period they have only employed Mark Hughes, Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pallegrini and Pep Guardiola.

The relative stability has given the first trophies that the club had seen since the mid 70’s under the guidance of Mancini and Pellegrini’s era also brought the same for the club. Some are being very impatient about the fact that there has been not much achievement even after spending a lot on the City. Domestic cups like the FA cup, two league cups and two premier league titles have been flooded but there has been very little progress in the European cups. The club appeared in the semi final of the Champions league last season but it was first time for them which was also spoilt by Pellegrini’s ultra-cautious mindset.

Guardiola’s arrival in Man City gave them a true football luminary after a long chase. The Catalan had built success at Bayern Munich and he was responsible for the Johan Cruyff inspired system at Barcelona. It seemed as if he had the Midas touch and city wanted a part of it.

Guardiola’s accordance with the club witnessed the growing stature of City. Money is considered as one of the ubiquitous factor in sports these days and Pep Guardiola’s salary could bring water to the eyes.

After a lame end of Pellegrini’s stay of three years, it was believed that Guardiola could make everything alright by just spreading his expensive jacket on the back of the chair and preach.

But the English and England football presents a set of challenging set of characteristics which makes it a little difficult for a newcomer and it takes some time to get in terms with. For Guardiola is was even more tough as the team started with a stretch of 10 straight wins out of the starting block last August which burdened him with more expectations.

Guardiola started with some slightly brittle answers to the media which helped him in making opponents in the media. He was titled as “rude” and “impolite” and his team was misfiring distancing themselves from the top of the table.

The spurs have been the most compelling team in the Premier League this season and they took City to the cleaners in October. The draw will be unforgettable for years where the spurs came back with no mental toughness and commendable cleverness. But it was also noticeable that when the City play like this they can match any side.

Guardiola is learning the English game even though he is restricted by personnel problems. The signs at the Etihad on Saturday showed everyone that the coach will turn the City side into a deserving fanfare sooner or later.

 

5 Teams that excelled Premiere League in 2016

With the 25th edition of the Premier League reaching its half way mark, perhaps it is time to take a look at the top five teams that have excelled in this tournament so far. The below list is based on performances so far and there is every chance that a sixth team may end up winning the title. But then, that is the beauty of football, isn’t it?

With Chelsea leading the table with 46 points in 18 matches, closely followed by Manchester City in the same number of matches, football pundits are having a tough time predicting the best team of the tournament. Fans are also finding it difficult to digest the fact the reigning champions, Leicester City is currently in 16th position, their chances of holding on to the title all but nil.

Here is our list of five teams who stand a solid chance of winning this year’s title

Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29:  The Chelsea badge is seen on the corner flag ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on January 29, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The infusion of a new manager in Conte seems to have done the trick for the team, who has brought about some much needed stability which was lacking under the Italian coach Antonio. Having scored 38 goals and conceding only 11, they are easily one of the top favorites in this season. The return to form of Diego Costa have augured well for the Blues’, so has the brilliant coordination displayed by the midfield as well as the defenders. Michy Batshuayi, Gary Cahil, and John Terry all have been in excellent form. The midfield trio of Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, and Oscar have been able to set the tone of the matches and aided some excellent maneuvers through the wings.

Manchester City

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Perhaps the biggest positive for Manchester City has been the introduction of the new coach Pep Guardiola whose innovative formations and tactics have done them a whole lot of good.  One of the leading goal scoring teams of the EPL so far, Manchester City has been robust in their defense as well. When it comes to goal scoring, Sergio Aguero has been the go-to man for Guardiola, who has found the nets with alarming frequency. The midfield manned by Raheem Sterling Nolito has equally been up to the task, creating goal opportunities and controlling the pace of the game. Those who are familiar with Pep’s ball possession tactic during his stint with Barcelona are amazed how easily he has been able to infuse it into the EPL as well.

Liverpool

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Leading the number of goals scored with 41 goals against 20 conceded, Liverpool stands a good chance as any to lift the coveted title this year. Jurgen Klopp has been a master visionary, conjuring tactics and formations that has unsettled the calculations of many of his opposite numbers. Liverpool has been able to rise above superstar performances and started delivering as a team which is obvious from their points table. Having lost only 2 matches so far, Klopp’s men are one of the strongest contenders this year.

Arsenal

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The runner’s up of the last season, Arsenal would love to finish top of the table this time around. Arsenal’s bane has always been the finishing touch, however, with 39 goals scored in 18 matches, they have one of the strongest fire power this season, which places them in a strong position to win this year’s title.

Manchester United

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The Red Devils have been a different team altogether under the new coach Jose Mourinho and is currently placed sixth in the list. Pogba has been finding his feet consistently and that is certainly good news for them. However, with the final half of the tournament coming up, they would want more worthy contributions from their midfield if they are to proceed further in the tournament.

Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Southampton are also in the race and it is simply too early to write any one off. There is only thing that we can say with conviction at this point of time and that is we are headed for a brilliant finish to this year’s tournament!

Toure is not yet done with Manchester City

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Absence of Yaya Toure from the Midfield of Manchester City this season showed the supporters of the club that how the engine room of the club would look without the Ivory Coast man mountain when he finally departs from Manchester City.

The day will arrive when the club won’t be able to call on his talent at all but presently he is still hanging in there. It is also believed that he might be playing a bigger part in City’s season than anyone would have predicted two months ago after his chatty agent Dimitri talked his client out of a place from the Champions League Squad. But new opportunities may open for Toure after Vincent Kompany’s latest injury.

He had his strongest moments during his career at City which began in the year 2010. Toure has been an absolute road block in the centre of midfield. The 74 goals scored by him out of his 271 appearances speak for themselves and his City Legacy still holds the balance for many.

In his presence, Toure bestrode the City like a gargantuan with his giant frame under which lies a graceful and twinkle-toed mastery of his art. Toure delivers a little bit of everything that is needed and all over the pitch. He seems active and always there with some action such as passing, moving, receiving and going again. His trademark tight turns that open up a forward crease to dash down with his trunk legs punching through the air are one of the special moves.

After the trivial return from last season from City side and slowly moving towards a regime change, there was the first sight of Toure as underpowered, less motivated and he also seemed occasionally ineffective.

Jamie Carragher talked about his contribution as a selfish move after they were defeated by Arsenal. The same Toure then turned on the power and dragged City back into the game at 2-1.

Toure has been a complete lynchpin at City throughout the first phase of the emergence of the club into trophy winning. He is one of the giants of the club’s modern history and his reputation might take a flight after his achievements in the name of Manchester City.

The club entered into an arena of contesting the big trophies of the game after Toure’s goal that defeated Manchester United in the epoque-defining FA cup semi final in 2011 and also the subsequent final v Stoke City at Wembley.

Some other goals in the League Cup and Premier League against West Ham and Aston Villa will remain in the memories of the fans of the club as permanently as anything the club has produced in the last 30 years.

He has emerged from the mothballs recently and played a winning role at the vital away wins at Crystal Palace and Burnley which might have established the hope that Pep Guardiola might consider to reinstate him to City’s Champions League squad.

Time waits for no one and it is not fair to expect that Toure would be able to carry on with his brilliant performance for the next six years at City but he definitely has a lot to offer in the short period for the club.

Pep Guardiola needs to shake-up Man City in Title race

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Manchester City have secured their place in the Champions League round 16 and it was not fluent for them. With a stumbling and tentative 1-1 draw at Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday they have been through the next round.

Currently the club has lost its easy days of passing, high intensity pressing and scintillating football. The match on Wednesday was all about hard work from first minute till the last one which did not give them a clear win but a draw.

The 3-1 victory over Barcelona in the beginning of the month had been intense along with a rewarding end to it. But the present situation of the team is thrusting their supporters back into a dark grey passage of doubt and apprehension.

They were expected to finish second behind Barcelona in a well-balanced group C and it would have been acceptable that a little damage has been done. But considering their performances away from home in this season’s tournament, the situation seems alarming.

Three goals were shipped at Celtic Park in a game that was completely topsy-turvy and out of City’s control. Then there was another four goals in a match that exploded in their faces at the Camp Nou. Gaurdiola have seen his own defence concede almost all the time and look so defenceless in doing so.

Lars Stindl for the hosts and Fernandinho for City along with the two red cards have been drawing a great competitiveness out of both the teams. Gaurdiola’s team finished the game by playing keep-ball across the backline for most of the unenthusiastic second half. Ambitions had dropped off to this level and both the teams kept their powder well and dry even though they were aware about the greater trials to come.

Gaurdiola must be preoccupied with the thought that City have lost their dynamism. At the beginning of the season City promised so much for this season. In Bucharest they had missed two penalties but even that did not stop them from a 5-0 win away from home against Steaua in a difficult environment.

Since then it has been a tough slog for this talented team with an exception of a magical night at home against Barcelona. Even the Barcelona game witnessed ambush from the visitors during the first half of the match and that might have finished City off by half time if it were not for the fortuitous equaliser before half time.

After the unbelievable arrival of Leicester City at the top of the table in the last season, 2016-17 is also turning into a strange affair. Tottenham seems incapable of shredding the less mortal teams and Chelsea had an uncertain start but they are now playing majestically under the guidance of Antonio Conte. Arsenal and Liverpool are on the same track and the fragility is purely perceptible.

None of the teams have succeeded in stamping their authority in this season yet. If City is planning on taking the lead then there’s a lot of work that is needed to be done. Guardiola needs to shake-up the spirit of the team in order to take this season by the scruff of the neck.

Manchester City lurch under Guardiola but Palace provide a chance to hit back

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Manchester City is desperately in need of a win as they head to the Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park on Saturday. City is two points off the top of the Premier League table after 11 games. This is not a very poor record but they could have been on a much better position considering the team’s performance in the start of the season.

City had their six wins in the first six matches of the season but were able to bag only one win in the last five matches. It looked like a great start for the team but undermined by below-par form.

It has knocked down the confidence and motivation of the team. The success in the opening match against Sunderland was a little unexpected but the 87th minute goal my McNair sealed the win. The rest of the wins in the run have been more comfortable for the club. They played their rivals off the park, scored for fun and cruised through fixtures.

The drop points for the club were the 3-3 draw in Champions League with Celtic and the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham on 2nd October. City haven’t looked the same after the down fall since then. They are still dominating possession but the defences are becoming very difficult to break. The only exception was the 4-0 at West Brom.

Three successive home draws in the Premier League were not much of a help to the club. Everton, Middlesbrough and Southampton are not walkovers but the 1-1 draw have been disappointing for City who have been aiming to win the League. A draw against one of these would have been fine but three consecutive draws were highly unsatisfactory for the club.

There are two issues that are creating trouble for Guardiola. He can’t rely on outscoring his rivals in order to win a match and also he can’t be assured if his team could hang on to the narrow lead at present.

Away matches with Crystal Palace and Burnley look like a good opportunity for City to buckle up. Palace are one of the most competitive teams for to City to come up against right now.

Playing away from home is also a positive point for Guardiola. The team and the manager both have been under pressure while performing at the Etihad in recent weeks. Although the away trips are considered to be pretty difficult, Guardiola have nullified that for City in this season.

They are coping up better with the crowd away from home than the uneasy audience at home ground. The back-to-back matches away in the top flight either side of a trip to Borussia Monchengladbach could be a good opportunity City to get back in the run all over again.

City’s record at Palace have been excellent till date. They have a record of only one defeat in their last five defeats and a total score of 10 wins out of the 11 meetings. Guardiola is hoping for a rise in the table and a win at Palace. This would help him to leave a mark on the Premier League for the second time of the season.