Tag Archives: Manchester city

Sterling’s first strike keeps Arsenal behind till ‘end of the match’


The Belgium midfielder, who came off the bench in the win at Everton in midweek, tried to pick out Ilkay Gundogan but his errant pass betrayed a little rustiness.

Manchester City moved a step closer to the Premier League title as Raheem Sterling’s early goal gave the runaway leaders a 1-0 win against Arsenal on Sunday.


Pep Guardiola’s side made it 18 successive victories in all competitions thanks to Sterling’s second-minute header at the Emirates Stadium.

With 13 games left, City are 10 points clear of second-placed Leicester, who had closed the gap to seven with a 2-1 win at Aston Villa earlier on Sunday.

City have equalled the club record of 11 successive away victories in all competitions, set from May to November 2017.


They are the first top-flight team to win their opening 11 league matches in a calendar year.

Storming towards a third title in four seasons, City have won 13 consecutive league matches and are unbeaten in 25 games in all competitions since a defeat at Tottenham in November.

Incredibly, that was the last time they trailed in any league fixture.

Guardiola’s men weren’t even at their best on their return to north London, but they still had enough in the locker to hand Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal a third defeat in their last four league games.


“It was hard like we expected it would be. We suffered a lot. It’s difficult to play against Arsenal and Mikel. That’s why I give the players incredible credit for this victory,” Guardiola said.

“People look at our run of wins and think it’s so easy. I didn’t expect it. I’m more than grateful for these players for what they’re doing, but winning these games 1-0 is what we need to do.


“The last 10-15 minutes was brilliant. We know what we want to do. We want to make a big step.”

Borussia Monchengladbach have the next chance to stop City’s incredible winning streak in the Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday.

If anyone would have the secret to stopping City’s march to the title, it might have been Gunners boss Arteta.


The Spaniard served as Guardiola’s City assistant before taking charge of Arsenal last season.

But Arteta had to make changes as several of his players were fatigued after their midweek Europa League draw against Benfica.

“When we conceded the first goal it put us in a difficult situation. It was tough. With the formation and the players they use they are really comfortable,” Arteta said.

“After that the team reacted really well, were on top of the game and created chances but we lacked the quality in those situations to score the goal.”


Ruthless City

City ruthlessly pounced on the uncertainty in Arsenal’s reshuffled line-up as they took the lead after just 80 seconds.

Ruben Dias played a superb long pass to Riyad Mahrez and the Algeria winger lofted a cross into the six-yard box, where Sterling defied his diminutive stature as he rose above Rob Holding to head into the far corner.


Sterling’s 13th club goal of the season was his sixth in his last nine appearances.

He should have had another moments later when Kevin De Bruyne’s pass split the Arsenal defence, but this time Sterling delayed his shot and Bernd Leno was able to save at the forward’s feet.

Mahrez was tormenting Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney and he danced past him for a shot that deflected wide.


City’s De Bruyne was making his first start for over a month after a hamstring injury.

The Belgium midfielder, who came off the bench in the win at Everton in midweek, tried to pick out Ilkay Gundogan but his errant pass betrayed a little rustiness.

City nearly conceded against the run of play when Tierney’s volley forced a good save from Ederson.

They regained their momentum at the start of the second half and De Bruyne was just wide with an audacious chip from the edge of the area.


Leno had to save well from Gundogan’s 20-yard drive before De Bruyne’s volley whistled wide.

Joao Cancelo nearly gifted Arsenal an equaliser when his high backpass was volleyed straight to Mohamed Elneny by Ederson, but the midfielder blazed just wide.



Guardiola react after Mikel Arteta’s move to turn Arsenal into title contenders.


Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has heaped praise on Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta, admitting the Gunners could soon find themselves battling for the Premier League title.


Arteta spent three years working under Guardiola at City before taking the plunge into first-team management with Arsenal in December 2019, but his first 14 months in the job have been about as turbulent as they could possibly be.

Arteta led Arsenal to FA Cup glory last season but was tipped to lose his job just a few months ago, with the Gunners closer to a relegation battle that the top four, but he has managed to steady the ship and slowly lead his side up the table – something which Guardiola confessed had impressed him.

Pep Guardiola has huge faith in Mikel Arteta | Pool/Getty Images

“I did not inspire him,” Guardiola said of his former protegee in the build-up to the meeting between the two sides on Saturday (via Sky Sports News). “What he knows he knows for himself. I am not any influence. What he is doing, all credit to him and his backroom staff.


“All I can say is the last months show me that all managers need time and he is not an exception. What I see in the last two months every game Arsenal played is better than the opponent.

“Tomorrow we will have an incredible performance. They have an exceptional build-up, they have quality and they have energy. They have [Bukayo] Saka, [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and all the players with the quality in the middle.

“In the early future, they will be real contenders to fight for the titles. Most of the time [when Arteta and I worked together] we took decisions together and I took decisions with the influence of Mikel. I don’t know if I influenced him – he has to answer this.”

Arteta has also been incredibly complimentary of City, insisting that Guardiola has built the best team in world football.


“The football they are playing and consistency of results, take all that in and it makes them the best team,” Arteta confessed (via BBC Sport).

“They have weaknesses like every team but at the moment teams have struggled a lot to find any of that because I think first of all defensively they have been really, really strong. I think they are the best team in Europe at the moment.”



Mancity denies Messi!


Despite his own insistence that no decision on his future would be made before the end of the 2020/21 season, Lionel Messi’s continuity at the Camp Nou remains in doubt, although Manchester City have moved to publicly deny reports they have made an offer to the forward.

Messi’s contract with Barcelona is due to expire in June, which means as per the Bosman transfer rules, he has been legally allowed to talk to non-domestic clubs since the turn of the year.

Whether or not this has happened remains unclear, and you would have to say it’s doubtful given Messi’s insistence that his focus was only on the remainder of the season.

With that being said, The Sun posted a story which suggested that Manchester City had made Messi an offer to sign with the club in the summer, however a spokesperson for the Manchester club has told MARCA that this isn’t true.

The information MARCA received was that Manchester City haven’t made an offer for Messi either last summer or within the final six months of his current contract.


Paris Saint-Germain’s infinitely comfortable 4-1 victory over a poor Barcelona team on Tuesday all but confirmed Messi will not win the Champions League this term either, and this could well propel him closer to the exit door.

If this is indeed the case, you can see why Manchester City are eager to not be seen doing anything which could potentially damage their relationship with the Argentine’s camp, especially when they are likely to make their move in the summer.


Manchester City deny ‘offering’ Messi £430m long-term contract.


Messi said during an interview in December that he would not be deciding his future until June and will not engage in talks with any clubs until that decision is made

Manchester City have ‘emphatically’ denied making any offer to Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, or even opening talks with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner amid claims that they have presented him with a contract worth a total of £430m.

Messi is out of contract at Barcelona at the end of the season. He is yet to make his mind up about his future and it would not be a surprise to see him leave Camp Nou as a free agent.


The 33-year-old wanted to quit the club last summer, only for Barça to block his attempts to trigger a clause in his contract what would have allowed him to leave a year early.

With his only option then to take the club to court, he chose to back down instead of force the issue.


There are very few viable options for Messi outside Barcelona, but City have been most heavily linked alongside Paris Saint-Germain. Joining City would mean reuniting with mentor Pep Guardiola, while the sky blues have spent the last 10 years building their own version of Barcelona off the pitch.

Man City are alleged to have offered Lionel Messi a long-term contract | David Ramos/Getty Images

PSG haven’t hidden their admiration for Messi and magazine France Football even mocked up an image of him wearing PSG colours for a recent cover spread.

But a tabloid story this week that City have put forward an offer is thought to be wide of the mark.


A report from The Sun alleged that City had presented Messi with a five-year contract worth £430m, including three further years of ambassadorial roles with the City Football Group. It is claimed that deal is down on a £600m contract Messi was supposedly offered last summer.

However, NoRM cites a City spokesperson who says there is no truth in the story: “There have been no offers made, either in the summer or since. And there are no talks.”

That version of events also ties into what has previously been reported on the developing saga.

Earlier this month it was revealed that City are taking the opposite approach to PSG and are being much more patient and distant than the noisy French champions.


City have been tipped to delay making any sort of approach until at least or April, which could command greater respect from Messi himself, with the player said to hate the media circus that surrounds his uncertain future and that PSG are helping to fuel.

Messi said during an interview in December that he would not be deciding his future until June and will not engage in talks with any clubs until that decision is made, even though he is now already eligible to do so with a view to signing a pre-contract agreement.



City’s Guardiola wins EPL ‘manager of the month.’


The news completes a double for City as midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who netted five goals in six appearances throughout January, lifted the player of the month award.

In a surprise to no-one given Manchester City’s incredible recent form, Pep Guardiola has been named Premier League manager of the month for January.

It was a season that promised to deliver an open title race until the death, but City have taken full advantage of faltering form from Liverpool and Manchester United to pull away from the chasing pack.

They sit five points clear at the top of the division with a game in hand at present and that is largely thanks to a perfect January that saw them pick up six consecutive victories.


They started the month with a comprehensive 3-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Callum Hudson-Odoi’s late consolation would prove to be the only goal they would concede for the entire month.

They won their next five matches by an aggregate scoreline of 13-0, brushing aside a quarter of the division with minimal fuss to assert themselves as the clear favourites to win the league for the third time in Guardiola’s tenure.

The news completes a double for City as midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who netted five goals in six appearances throughout January, lifted the player of the month award.


He has become a favourite of Guardiola’s in recent weeks and was in the thick of it as City started 2021 with a bang.

Despite a faltering start to the season, Guardiola’s team are beginning to look more and more like the side who romped to successive league titles in 2018 and 2019.

Guardiola was named best boss for January | Michael Steele/Getty Images

They were virtually unbeatable for those two seasons, registering 100 and 98 points respectively – then the two highest totals ever recorded.

They won just two of their first five games this season and were in the bottom half of the table as recently as November.


But they have taken 38 points from their last 42 available and look on course to charge to yet another title.

Guardiola fought off competition from David Moyes, Mikel Arteta, and Graham Potter to win the January award.



John Stones to remain in Manchester City


Guardiola’s men are competing for four trophies and they want to make sure all their players are fully focused on the task at hand

Manchester City are prepared to reward John Stones’ recent run of good form with a new contract at the Etihad Stadium.


Stones was out of favour under Pep Guardiola last season and was widely expected to leave the club following the big-money arrivals of Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake, but the Englishman has instead forced his way back into the starting lineup, forming a dominant partnership with Dias.

In his 13 Premier League starts this season – he only managed 12 last year – Stones has helped City keep ten clean sheets, and he even chimed in with two goals in the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace back in January.


As it stands, Stones is set to enter the final 12 months of his contract at the end of the season, and The Times note that Guardiola has urged City to offer him fresh terms to keep him around for a little while longer.

John Stones has earned himself a new contract at Man City | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Club officials were open to selling Stones last summer but have been incredibly impressed with his reaction to the new signings, and talks between the two are expected to be held at the end of the season.

City want to wait so as to avoid adding any potential distractions into the mix. Guardiola’s men are competing for four trophies and they want to make sure all their players are fully focused on the task at hand.


Speaking to NoRM‘s known Media after his goalscoring exploits against Palace, Stones confessed that he struggled to accept being out in the cold at City and admitted he worked tirelessly to try and get himself back into the fold.

“It’s always tough when you’re not playing and you don’t get a run of games – then when you do, you don’t perform to what you can do, because you maybe put too much pressure on yourself,” he said.

“I’ve said it to Micah Richards and to a lot of people that I went back to the basics and looked at myself first, looked at what I can improve on in every aspect.

“I’ve said to [Richards] a few times now – he’s been very open about himself as well, which is good – and I think players that have been in my position and for me personally to keep fighting and keep believing in myself is something first and foremost that needs to happen.


“You need to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say ‘am I doing everything for myself and for the team?’

“I did that and kept working hard kept the faith and kept grinding away. And as I said, I kept trying to improve – and I still am now. I don’t think you’ll ever stop looking to improve on yourself. I’m just trying to do my best.”



Liverpool new signing, Ozan Kabak enlisted in squad to face Manchester City.


Klopp opted to persevere with the partnership of Jordan Henderson and Nat Phillips at the back for that one, as the Reds lost 1-0 to the south coast team.

New Liverpool signing Ozak Kabak could make his debut at some stage against Manchester City, as Jurgen Klopp named the central defender in his matchday squad for the first time.


Kabak arrived on an initial loan from Schalke on deadline day as part of the solution to Liverpool’s injury crisis, but the deal was not cleared in time for him to face Brighton.

Klopp opted to persevere with the partnership of Jordan Henderson and Nat Phillips at the back for that one, as the Reds lost 1-0 to the south coast team.

Henderson remains at centre back for the must-win clash against City and is joined by Fabinho, who returns to start for the first time since mid-January.


New arrival Ben Davies made the squad against Brighton but he has been left out this time around.

File Photo: Liverpool New Signing, Ozan Kabak to play against Manchester City | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

There is no place for Rhys Williams either, as Phillips drops out of the starting XI to join Kabak on the bench.

A strong bench shows Liverpool’s injury problems are easing up somewhat but it comes too soon for Diogo Jota who is expected to return to action at some point in February.

Alisson retakes his place between the sticks after illness kept him out against Brighton, and having him back will be a major boost as Klopp’s team look for a win that could reinvigorate their title challenge after another Anfield stumble during the week.


Elsewhere Curtis Jones comes in for the experienced James Milner, while Georginio Wijnaldum retains a place alongside Thiago, who starts a seventh straight Premier League game for the defending champions.

The first choice front three take their place with neither Divock Origi or Xherdan Shaqiri doing enough to warrant a shuffling of the pack, while the usual full-back pairing of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson will look to provide the ammunition from wide areas.



Dias speak on Manchester City’s solid defense.


Guardiola hasn’t been shy when it comes to forking out on defensive reinforcements since arriving at the Etihad Stadium, and last September he added yet another big-money signing to his roster in the shape of Ruben Dias.

When Vincent Kompany departed Manchester City in 2019, few could have envisaged the impact the veteran defender’s exit would have on Pep Guardiola’s side.

After all, the Belgian’s status as a mainstay in the starting XI had long since waned, yet City’s maiden campaign without their former captain saw them concede more than 50% more league goals than they had in his final season at the club.

The Portugal international has adapted seamlessly to life in the Premier League – with his
partnership alongside John Stones a huge part of the reason City are back to looking like genuine title contenders – though the youngster believes their superb defensive record this season is reflection on the team as a whole rather than just him and his defensive colleagues.

“The connection with John [Stones] has been just brilliant, but I would like to say that it’s not just me and John,” he told the Daily Mail. “A brilliant example of that, I think it was against Brighton. We were winning 1-0 but struggling and then I see Kevin [De Bruyne] and Gundo [Ilkay Gundogan] dying on the pitch. You know, running back, running forwards. Dying.


“That moment just said to me, if these guys are running like that, who will not? If these guys give everything for the team, who will not?

“Trust is given. Trust is earned. So when you start to build that defensive point of view, if we’re not conceding, we’re closer to winning, and then everyone starts to believe in it. They see your will to accomplish that. That makes this team strong.”


Despite Dias proving himself to be more than adept at playing out from the back, the 23-year-old was quick to stress that his main job is to defend and that he takes pride in his work.

“The other day someone said to me here in the club, ‘ah, amazing, another clean sheet’, and I just said the thing that gives me most pleasure is not even the clean sheet,” he added. “It’s the other team not even making one shot on goal. The thing that gives me the most pleasure is that my keeper doesn’t make a save.

“I’m a defender. I’m there to defend. Nowadays the idea is that a defender needs to do much more. My focus has always been on becoming better and doing more but I’ve never forgotten that, first of all, I’m a defender.


“If not me, then who else will take pride from defending? It gives me pleasure to make the other team feel powerless.”

Since arriving in the Premier League, Dias’ communication skills on the pitch have been regularly lauded, with suggestions he could be set to be handed the captain’s armband.

At just 23 he would be one of the youngest captains in the league, though he believes age plays no part in the decision.

“The thing I can say about me is that no matter the age, you are either one type of person or not, you are either the winner or not.” he said. “That’s not a matter of age, it’s a matter of are you ready or not.”


Regardless of whether he is appointed club captain one day or not, the Portugal international has enjoyed a superb start to his career in England, and he’s loving life in the north west.

“What I know now about this city is the way people breathe football… there is just something else here, something special. Even the grass,” he said. “The environment. It is different. It goes a bit further in Manchester.”



Eric Garcia move to Barcelona ‘uncertain’.


Only Font was supportive of Tusquets’ proposal to sign Garcia for a total of £7m, with both Laporta and Freixa turning their noses up at the idea.

Barcelona will not move for Manchester City centre-back Eric Garcia in January after the club’s three presidential candidates failed to agree on pursuing the deal.


Garcia is one of Barça’s top targets and the club are prepared to wait until the summer to sign him on a free transfer once his contract expires, but club officials would like to bring him in a little sooner to help out immediately.

The problem for Barcelona is that all transfer business will be left to the new president, who was initially expected to be decided in elections on January 24. These elections have now been delayed, meaning there will be no permanent president before the closure of the winter transfer window.

According to Marca, acting chief Carles Tusquets met with the three candidates, Victor Font, Joan Laporta and Toni Freixa, to see whether all three would be happy for him to pull the trigger on Garcia now, but the responses did not match up.


It’s not clear whether they would prefer to wait and sign him for free or whether they are simply against the idea of landing Garcia altogether.

Eric Garcia move from Manchester City to Barcelona not certain as presidential candidates fails to agree. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

Because the trio could not agree, Tusquets will not be pursuing the defender, and Barcelona are now not expected to make any signings before the delayed elections can be held on March 7.

Manager Ronald Koeman has previously confessed his desire to see the club sign a new striker this month, but said on Saturday: “If it’s not possible to sign players, it’s not possible. We’ll carry on with what we have.”

It’s thought that Barcelona don’t have enough money in the bank to make any real splashes this month, so club officials will instead wait until the summer to pursue their primary targets.


Alongside Garcia, decisions will have to be made about Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Lyon forward Memphis Depay, both of whom will also be available on free transfers unless they can agree new deals at their current clubs.

Koeman is keen to bring in all three players and would ideally like them as soon as possible, but he’s going to have to stay patient.



Just in: Eric Garcia set to join Barcelona on ‘free transfer’


The Spanish side failed to strike a deal back then but remained open to doing business in January if City were prepared to lower their asking price – something Pep Guardiola has always refused to do.

Manchester City centre-back Eric Garcia is expected to join Barcelona as a free agent once his contract comes to a close this summer.


It was revealed last summer that Garcia had rejected the chance to sign a new contract with City as he has his heart set on a move to Camp Nou, where Barcelona have been trying to sign him ever since.

An agreement over a transfer fee is all that is needed as Fabrizio Romano has again stressed that Garcia has already agreed personal terms with Barcelona, and it’s just a case of when rather than if.

Guardiola was asked about Garcia’s future during a press conference on Friday, but as he has always done, he suggested that City will try to refuse any offers to sell the 20-year-old this month, although he was not as definitive as he has been in the past.


“I hope not but maybe Barcelona knows better than me,” he said when asked whether a deal will happen. “I don’t know what’s going to happen but maybe it’s going to happen.”

Guardiola has been reluctant to offload Garcia this season as he wants to the Spaniard to stay and act as cover for his regular starters, despite the fact that refusing to sell will cost City some money.

Manchester City Centre Back, Eric Garcia

Garcia is usually fifth in the pecking order behind John Stones, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake, but the latter two have been sidelined with injuries in recent weeks.

Ordinarily, that would have opened the door to Garcia, but injuries and illness have kept him out since early December.


However, Guardiola clearly believes that keeping another senior centre-back at the club has its merits, and he has urged the club to reject Barcelona’s advances, but it could all come down to how hard Ronald Koeman’s side push for the deal.

Barcelona are not expected to do any real business until after their presidential elections, with will be held on January 24.



Manchester City eye best replacement for Fernandinho


Despite this small blot on his record, Locatelli’s passing has come on leaps and bounds this season and a few years of Guardiola’s tutelage should be enough to get him up to scratch.

After nearly a decade of effortless success, Fernandinho’s Manchester City career is finally drawing to a close.

His contract is set to expire at the end of the campaign and even if he does pen fresh terms, one more season is likely all that City can ask of the 35-year-old.


Despite his declining involvement, he remains an important member of Pep Guardiola’s squad. His absence in midfield last season was harshly felt and it was telling that he recently started in the Manchester derby.

Replacing Fernandinho is not going to be an easy task. City have already tried it once, bringing in Rodri for over £60m two summers ago, but with the Spaniard looking increasingly like a different sort of player, they may be tempted to dip into the market once again.

Recent reports suggest that they are interested in Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli. Aged just 23, he has already been capped multiple times for Italy – but is he really what the Citizens are looking for? NoRM analysed all the relevant stats to find out.

The profile.

At his peak during the 2017/2018 season, Fernandinho was unquestionably the best defensive midfielder in the world.


Operating as City’s deepest midfielder in their famous 4-3-3, he balanced the roles of playmaker, destructive ball winner and anchor man to devastating effect.

If City want to return to their peak, discovering a player capable of doing all of this is necessary. Therefore, we are looking for a midfielder who can not only excel defensively but also possesses significant playmaking ability and positional discipline.


Does Locatelli fit the bill? Let’s take a look…


Following in a rich tradition of Italian deep lying playmakers before him, Locatelli’s is a terrific passer of the ball.

Capable of breaking the lines with short and long passes, his playmaking ability has particularly stood out this season. During the 2019/2020 campaign, he averaged a progressive passing distance of 296.7 yards per 90 minutes, ranking him 155th in Serie A.


This term, his numbers have spiked dramatically. After 17 league games this season, he was averaging over 400 yards per 90, a figure eerily close to what Fernandinho posted during City’s Centurions campaign.

Locatelli makes 50+ yards switches to Sassuolo’s wide men look ludicrously easy and his ability to drill hard, low passes through the opponent’s midfield is also worth a mention. While he prefers to pluck away in deep positions, he is often involved in the final stages of the attack as well, racking up well over two shot creating actions per 90 after 17 league matches this season.

Of course, while Guardiola has somewhat surrendered his obsession for possession this season, playing in midfield for one of he teams will not always consist of Hollywood passes. In order to move the opposition out of shape, the Citizens’ deepest midfielder is often used as a bounce board for recycling possession.

This is an area that Locatelli may require some refinement in. Last season, he successfully received 95.5% of his passes. An impressive stat – until you realise Fernandinho has averaged closer to 98% when playing in midfield during his recent career. It may seem like a marginal difference but being sloppy in possession can have significant knock-on effects for a team like City.



Few players are capable of making defending look as sexy as Locatelli. His sliding tackles, in which he contorts his legs at near impossible angles, are a highlight, though his reading of the game is equally impressive.

After his first 16 Serie A games this season, he was leading the way for tackles + interceptions, registering 71 in total.


Even more impressive, especially for a centre-midfielder, is that he tackled 50% of the dribblers that unwisely choose to take him on during this period. Locatelli also featured in the top ten for blocks at the end of gameweek 17.

Like with his progressive passing stats, his defending has dramatically improved this season, providing further evidence of his exciting potential.

If he comes close to matching the same level of performance for the rest of the campaign, Locatelli will not only match Fernadinho’s 2017/2018 numbers, he will easily surpass them.


The only area in which there might be a few question marks is his defensive discipline. At times Locatelli plays like, well, a 23-year-old out to prove himself, storming into advanced positions to try and inspire his team to victory.

The fact that he is far better than the majority of his teammates partly explains this, however, to fill Fernandinho’s shoes he will need to be develop increased defensive discipline.

What else can Locatelli bring Manchester City?
Manuel Locatelli

While it may not suit him well to an anchor man role, one of Locatelli’s other strengths is driving forward using his pace and strength.

Not only is he strong physically, he also possesses a wide array of flicks and feints, as well as lightning fast feet, which allows him to evade opposition midfielders in close quarters. This box of tricks makes him a real handful for the opposition and it little surprise that only three out-and-out midfielders had carried the ball for more yards progressive yards than him after 17 Serie A games.


He has also displayed an appetite for an eye-catching goal during his career so far, most notably when he fired an unstoppable effort past Gianluigi Buffon aged just 18.

These two traits suggest that, as well as being well primed to step into the void left by Fernandinho, Locatelli may also excel in a more advanced role at the Etihad Stadium. This makes snapping him for a reported £30m a complete no brainer for Guardiola’s side.



‘It took City’s solid defense’ to have defeated Brighton.


Their victory over Brighton was their seventh on the bounce, and their recent success has been built on their newfound solid defensive foundations.

A touch of class from Phil Foden coupled with Manchester City’s newfound defensive solidity proved to be the difference as Manchester City recorded a narrow 1-0 win over Brighton on Wednesday evening.

After two flawless, title-winning campaigns, Pep Guardiola’s side could hardly muster a Premier League title challenge last season, with Liverpool runaway champions – and the Citizens’ vulnerability at the back was a major contributing factor in their failure to defend their crown.

After a slightly unconvincing start to the 2020/21 campaign, City have come into a bit of form of late.


Ruben Dias – evidence to suggest that if you throw enough money at a problem it might actually go away eventually – and John Stones have forged a really nice central defensive partnership, the pair complimenting each other well. They’re assured, calm and composed – and you don’t get the fear that they’ve got a mistake in them…a concern that Stones has previously been guilty of.

The centre back pairing of Dias and Stones have kept 11 clean sheets in the 14 games they have started together. With City’s backline finally settled and sorted, they have been able to flourish going forward.


This wasn’t necessarily the case against Brighton. Having turned in sumptuous attacking performances against Chelsea and Manchester United at the beginning of January, City were slightly more subdued going forward on Wednesday evening.

This is in part a credit to Brighton, who were compact, dogged and frustrated Guardiola’s side for large periods of the game.

But this is where the class of Foden shone through.


The Manchester City youngster has not been used quite as lavishly in the Premier League as had been expected following the departure of David Silva in the summer.

However, Foden had been the beating heart of City’s recent victories over Chelsea and United, and he proved to be the match winner on Wednesday too.

The 20-year-old drifted past Joel Veltman and collected Kevin De Bruyne’s pass on the edge of the box, before getting the better of Adam Webster with a fabulous first touch.

Having singlehandedly created the space inside the area, Foden then found the bottom corner with a low, pin point effort.


It was a demonstration of Foden’s soaring importance at City, who would not have taken all three points against Brighton were it not for the England international’s moment of quality.

In this season’s most bizarre of title races, sitting four points off top spot with a game in hand, a consistent, solid defensive base and the watch-winning capabilities Foden is a pretty healthy position to be in.



Manchester City back to winning days – Gary Neville says after 2-0 United win


Manchester City are returning to their top levels and will be favourites for the Carabao Cup final, and Liverpool’s main concern in the Premier League title race, says Gary Neville.

Pep Guardiola’s side backed up their impressive 3-1 league win at Chelsea with a 2-0 victory at Manchester United on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.


Goals from John Stones and Fernandinho at Old Trafford sent City into the competition’s final for the fourth year in a row, where they will meet Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham.

Neville believes City will be favourites for that Wembley clash if they maintain their current form until the April final, and says Liverpool’s defeat to Southampton on Monday, which left City four points behind with two games in hand, has opened the door in the Premier League for Guardiola’s rejuvenated side.

“City, over the 90 minutes, looked like they are back to their best or near to their best,” the Sky Sports pundit said on The Gary Neville Podcast.


“If you had said to me before the game at Stamford Bridge on Sunday who would be the favourites for this game, I would have said Man Utd. But then having watched City deliver that first half an hour and then see the game out the way they did in the second half [against Chelsea], it just made it a lot more interesting tonight, in the sense you wondered whether this was City back to their best.

“The way they started the game, the rhythm in the passing was back. Pep Guardiola looked like he had his spark back on the touchline.

“I said a few weeks ago, watching City, it was almost as if the players had become bored of playing really well and achieving the standards they had achieved previously.

“But I imagine since Sunday Pep Guardiola has said to them, ‘do you not enjoy playing football more like that than you have in the last few weeks?’


“They were absolutely sensational against Chelsea for 25 minutes, they cut them open. Their passing was so precise, sharp, quick, you cannot live with it. You cannot get anywhere near it and there were periods in that first half where City were brilliant.

“United played well in the game, they were managing it, they were living with it, and it’s difficult to live with it – City came close, they hit the post.


“United looked dangerous through Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford but could not get the goal.

“Overall I do not think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will come out and say they deserved to win tonight – he will say they played against a really good side.”

There’s been a spark; City stood up
Man City have been hit by coronavirus in recent weeks, with a number of players sidelined. However, despite those difficulties, they have been able to produce two standout performances.


Neville believes something has galvanised the group together – whether it is something mental, in terms of the players’ resolve, or how the team is playing in an enforced formation without an out-and-out striker.

“Something has lifted them pre-Chelsea,” said Neville. “Maybe it’s the reaction to the fact they cancelled the game at Everton. But they were a different level.

“I have to say, sometimes that can happen – you do not know what’s going to spark a season and sometimes it can be when you are at your lowest moment, and players are out, and you think it’s going to be the most difficult, people just stand up.

“On Sunday it was Kevin De Bruyne playing almost as a false nine centre forward and you think to yourself, ‘how is this going to go?’ It just seemed to click. The passing, the rhythm, Ilkay Gundogan in midfield started to drive them forward.


“Out of what would be adversity with the positive COVID tests, the game being cancelled, people potentially criticising them, they have clicked. Guardiola looks as if he’s got that spark in his eye because he has seen his team play football.”

Why City are final favourites and Premier League contenders again
This return to form puts them in a strong position with the first silverware of the season and the Premier League in their sights.


“Liverpool dropped points on Monday night and from a Man Utd point of view we had a bit of a smile,” said Neville.

“But Man City players, having played like they did at Chelsea on Sunday, they will have been the ones in the background thinking, ‘that was a good three points dropped for us, because we know we can win this title, we know we can beat that Liverpool team’.

“Liverpool are making mistakes, and they needed to make mistakes to let Man City back in – but they are back in.


“Playing like that they are a dangerous proposition. They will be the ones that will most cause Liverpool problems.

“Man Utd are immediately in their eyeline but City are there lurking and if they are playing like that they are going to be really dangerous.

“The final? I may have called it 50-50 a few weeks ago when Tottenham were on that fantastic run and Harry Kane was absolutely outstanding. They are still doing well, do not get me wrong. But City were nowhere near this.

“When you see City like this, you have to make City favourites. City would be favourites against any team in the Premier League playing like this, maybe Liverpool aside, when you would say it’s 50-50.


“Jose Mourinho, even Tottenham’s players, no one in the country, if City are at this level would think Tottenham are 50-50. I would think it’s more 70-30.

“But it’s a final and it’s compelling – Jose against Pep. I would definitely make City favourites.”



Carabao Cup: Tottenham beats Brentford; to face either Man Utd or Man City at Final


Spurs were heavy favourites against the in-form Championship side and showed their class for much of the match.

Tottenham Hotspur will face either Manchester United or Manchester City in the final of the Carabao Cup at Wembley, after beating Brentford 2-0 on Tuesday evening.

Moussa Sissoko and Heung-min Son netted in each half in what was a routine win.

Although the Championship side started brightly, it was Spurs who took the lead through an unmarked Sissoko headed home Sergio Reguilon’s inch-perfect cross.


Brentford started the second half brightly, with Toney forcing Serge Aurier to make a crucial block, before the Ivory Coast international very nearly scored himself up the other end but blazed over.

Good work down the left saw Harry Kane feed Tanguy Ndombele and the rejuvenated midfielder played a brilliant pass in behind the Brentford defence for Son, who took a couple of touches and then rifled the ball into the back of the net.



Pep Guardiola: Why i will never insult myself by exchanging words with Jose Mourinho


Guardiola, who had repeated touch line fight with Mourinho during their spells in Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively said he has had enough of that barb.

Manchester City manager ahead of their clash with Tottenham Hotspur has come out to say that he is too old to engage himself in a verbal fight with Mourinho.

Mourinho, in a press conference said that Man city’s star player Raheem Sterling who was reported injured before the international break will be fit to play against his team despite withdrawing from England team that played in the Uefa Nations league.

Jose went on to say that Manchester city as a club mounted pressure on England national team coach Gareth Southgate into omitting Sterling’s name in his English squad list and also called out Pep Guardiola to come out open and deny or accept the accusation.


Pep, was asked to talk on the Mourinho accusation by the press guy’s and he said, “You have to speak to the doctors about these other things, don’t ask me,”

“I’m almost 50. I’m old enough to understand. Listen, I’m not going to answer anything about Jose.

“Raheem today Friday was the first training that he did.

“Mourinho has to speak to the doctor for the national team of England and the doctor for Manchester City.

“Maybe Mourinho is a doctor, I don’t know.


“He accused us of something we have done that is not true.”

Guardiola immediately switched attention to the contract he signed on Thursday, when he was asked his reason for extending his contract, he said “I don’t know, when I arrive here I didn’t expect to be seven years,” he added.

“I don’t know what is going to happen. It depends on the results to be honest. If we have success and we are happy, why not?

“If we don’t have success, we will be less happy and I think we are going to change. It’s simple.

He also said that he is happy at city and is looking forward to achieving more great things with the club.


Mancity Vs Liverpool’s clash postponed till next month


Manchester City’s crunch clash with title rivals Liverpool has been moved to Sunday, November 8 after the Premier League announced the next cohort of matches to be broadcast live.

A host of fixtures have been moved around in order to accommodate the broadcasting slots for television, with the league now announcing the run-down of games from match weeks 8 to ten.

City will now welcome Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to the Etihad for a 4.30pm kick-off, following on from the earlier fixture of the day which will see Leicester City take on Wolves, as part of Sky Sports’ ‘Super Sunday’ package.

Revised schedule can be found at the bottom of this article

Other key fixtures to have been shuffled around for TV include Newcastle’s clash with Chelsea – now Saturday November 21 at 12.30pm – and Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United welcoming Arsenal to Elland Road – now 4.30pm on Sunday, November 22.

The Premier League announced the dates and kick-off times via its official website on Friday, though included no mention of whether select games would continue to go ahead on the controversial pay-per-view (PPV) basis.

At present it has been indicated which games will be shown live by either Sky Sports or competitors BT Sports, though further word is expected regarding whether some games will remain accessible only by further payment.

In recent weeks fans across the entire Premier League have express their disdain at the money-spinning move, with many boycotting the PPV matches and instead donating money to other causes.

Last week it was revealed that both Sky and BT had refused to release the sales figures from their first weekend of paid for Premier League matches.

Sportsmail learned that even internal staff are not being briefed on the success or otherwise of the sales figures, although they suspect that is because the numbers are low.


Sky said the information was ‘commercially sensitive’. However, they have previously revealed numbers for sports such as boxing. BT Sport have said that they do not typically release viewing figures for their broadcasts.

Newcastle fans responded by boycotting Sky’s PPV offering of their 4-1 home defeat by Manchester United and have instead raised £19,000 for the city’s West End Foodbank.

Other supporters’ groups, including Leeds, are now encouraging fans to give to charity rather than pay to watch matches.

Likewise, Arsenal supporters are calling for a boycott of their side’s upcoming PPV tie with Leicester, with fan groups urging others to turn their back on the game and instead donate to local north London causes including Islington Cares.

On Thursday Liverpool FC fan group Spirit of Shankly took to social media to state that supporters clubs of all 20 Premier League sides are now united behind the movement referred to as #CharitynotPPV.

Spirit of Shankly wrote: ‘In a time of crisis & struggle for so many, fans should not be asked to pay extortionate fees to watch their team #BoycottPPV.’

Liverpool’s match with Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United takes the headline act on Saturday with the late 8pm slot, though thousands of supporters are expected to go without seeing their team play in refusal to pay the £14.95 viewing fee.


I am disappointed – Arteta speaks after Arsenal’s defeat.


Speaking after the match, Arteta discussed an array of matters having now seen his side gain nine points from their opening five league matches of the 2020/21 season.

There were chances for Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a tight affair, but the contest was settled by Raheem Sterling’s first half strike.

While the 1-0 scoreline demonstrates a vast improvement from the club’s most recent trip to face City, the end result was nevertheless the same. Having had chances in the match, Arteta claimed he was proud of the performance, but was disappointed to see his side play so deep.

“Upset obviously not to get anything from the game the way the game went because I felt that we kept growing and growing and having more belief that we could actually get something from it,” he said.

“At the same time I’m extremely proud about the way we played individually and collectively to put the performance that we put in tonight in this stadium. It’s not an easy thing to do. I think we had a real go.


“It’s upsetting to see your team so deep. In the second half we were really aggressive, we played in the opponents’ half, they had a lot of issues to get out of our pressure. We could have created more, I think, in the final third.

Much of the talk pre-match centered around whether deadline day signing Thomas Partey would jump straight into Arteta’s starting lineup, but the Spaniard opted to keep the £45m addition on the bench for the Etihad showdown. On the topic, Arteta insisted it was too soon to thrust the Ghanaian into action.

“We will see how quickly we can make it with him but as well we have to respect that process and that time for him because he only trained a day really with us,” he said.

“It’s a lot of new information, it’s a completely different game model for him to understand. We have to respect a little bit that. When he came on he looked good.”


It looked as if the Gunners would be handed a lifeline late in the first half, as Kyle Walker’s high foot came within inches of connecting with Gabriel Magalhaes’ head in the penalty box.

Hoping for a VAR review, referee Chris Kavanagh opted to blow the whistle for half time seconds late, indicating no second look had taken place.

“You need everything to go your way to get a win here and obviously when you have the three or four big chances we had you have to put them away because you know that in your box that’s going to be the case,” Arteta concluded.

“It’s that situation, I’ve seen it back, I just ask for the refs to watch it back and I don’t think they checked it because it took two seconds for the whistle to go.

“I am disappointed with that.”


‘Different Year, Same Shit!’ – De Bruyne lament amid City’s UCL exit


Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has revealed his frustration about his side’s continuing struggles in the Champions League.

Despite being overwhelming favourites, City fell to a shock 3-1 loss to Lyon in Saturday’s quarter-final, leaving 2015/16’s run to the semi-final as the only time City have ever reached the last four of the competition.

After a slow start which saw City trail 1-0 at half time, De Bruyne snatched a goal back after the break to give City some hope, but a poor end to the game saw Moussa Dembélé net twice either side of a horror miss from Raheem Sterling to gift Lyon the win.

Man City fell 3-1 to Lyon in the Champions League quarter-final | Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images

“It’s a different year, but the same stuff. I think the first half wasn’t good enough. I think we know that,” De Bruyne told BT Sport after the game. “We started slowly and we didn’t have many options. I think second half we played really well.


“We had them under pressure, we played more offensively, like we normally do, and I think we had them. We created enough second half to score enough goals but we need to learn, it’s not good enough.

“This team is great but we made too many mistakes. It’s what we’ve done all year.”

Despite De Bruyne’s admission of City’s shortcoming, the defeat will still be shrouded in controversy as Lyon’s second goal was awarded despite an inadvertent trip from goalscorer Dembélé on Aymeric Laporte, who was left on the turf and unable to chase back.


The defender took to Twitter after the game to condemn the decision, writing: “Just to be clear: I will not hide, I’m a football player but a man foremost, we all made mistakes in this game, and I also take my responsibility for the bad team performance tonight. But this decision is hard to accept, especially in a crucial qualifier AND with the help of VAR.”

His frustration was shared by manager Pep Guardiola, although the Spaniard used his post-match interview to focus on City’s mistakes instead of any refereeing decisions.

“It happened many times in this competition. It is what it is, the referee and VAR decided,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about the circumstances. It looks like I am complaining or finding causes. We are out.

“I had the feeling we were ready but we make mistakes. That’s why we are out.”

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Mancity demands £31m from Barcelona for Eric Garcia


Transfer Market live: Messi and Chilwell to Mancity


11:20. According to NobleSports, Chelsea have stepped up negotiations with Leicester City over Ben Chilwell. However, NS are reporting that Manchester City are also interested in the left-back.

10:42. NobleSports are reporting that Andrea Pirlo will give youth a chance at Juventus, specifically Luca Zanimacchia, Gianluca Frabotta, Daouda Peeters, Nicolo Fagioli and Hans Nicolussi Caviglia.

10:00. Gonzalo Higuain’s father has told Planeta 947 that it’s not true that Juventus don’t want the striker. He could, therefore, continue in Turin, where he is due to earn 18m euros this season.

09:40. Atletico Madrid are planning for next season and Napoli’s Allan Loureiro is a potential target. Atleti would be willing to offer around 40m euros for the midfielder.

08:42. Manchester United failed to meet Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho deadline, but English pundit Danny Murphy has said that the transfer could still happen if the player wants it. NobleSports are also reporting that United are still hopeful of signing the player this summer.

08:24. Eric Garcia was asked about his contract situation after Manchester City’s Champions League elimination on Saturday night, but said that it wasn’t the right time to discuss it. He has been linked with a return to Barcelona.

08:00. Manchester City believe they’re in pole position to sign Lionel Messi, but it will all depend on whether or not the Argentine does want to leave Barcelona. According to NS, City will do whatever is necessary to sign him. Even though his release clause is 700m euros, the British media are reporting that Barcelona may need money to fund their squad overhaul and may be willing to negotiate a fee.

07:45. Good morning and welcome along to this Sunday’s transfer blog. Here, we’ll have news of the latest completed deals and the most intriguing rumours.

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Mancity demands £31m from Barcelona for Eric Garcia


Manchester City have named their price for wantaway defender Eric Garcia after he refused to sign a new contract at the club, according to reports in Spain.

On Thursday, City boss Pep Guardiola revealed the 19-year-old did not want to stay at the club beyond the expiration of his contract next summer.

The Premier League club will therefore cash in on the teenage defender, who was deemed to be a future first-team star at the Etihad Stadium.

And several reports in Spain claim that City have set a £31million price tag over Garcia’s head, with one report saying that Barcelona are close to landing the defender.

The deal would be an initial £20million fee, with the remaining £11million to be paid in add-ons.

A move to Barcelona would see him return to the club that nurtured him throughhis developing years, with Garcia a product of the famous La Masia academy that has produced the likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas.


The 6ft defender, who was born in Barcelona, joined Manchester City as a 16-year-old in 2017 during Guardiola’s second season in charge of the Premier League club.

Garcia made his first-team breakthrough in Guardiola’s side this season, featuring 22 times in all competitions during the 2019-20 season due to an injury to first-choice centre-back Ayermic Laporte.

The Citizens lost just twice out of the 13 matches in which Garcia featured in defence.

Guardiola revealed in his news conference ahead of Friday’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid that the club tried to get Garcia to extend his deal, but the teenage defender has his heart set on a move away.


The City boss said on Thursday: ‘He announced to us that he doesn’t want to extend his contract with Manchester City.

‘He has one more year and after that, he doesn’t want to extend. We want it but he doesn’t want to, so I imagine he wants to play in another place.’

The 2019-20 season is not over for Manchester City yet due to their Champions League commitments, with Guardiola’s side holding a 2-1 aggregate advantage ahead of their second-leg tie at the Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

If the Citizens progress to the quarter-finals, they will face the winner of Lyon vs Juventus, who also play their second-leg on Friday night. The French side lead the Italian champions 1-0 ahead of their showdown in Turin.

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Marcelo to face Mancity


Following a week of holiday time, Real Madrid returned to training at Valdebebas on Tuesday ahead of their upcoming Champions League clash with Manchester City.

While Mariano Diaz was missing after testing positive for COVID-19, there weren’t any other absences.

Marcelo, who had been injured just before the end of the league campaign, was back with the group and trained as normal.

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Sane has no regrets leaving Mancity


Leroy Sane insists he has no regrets about potentially sacrificing a Champions League medal as the moment was right for him to leave Manchester City.

The Germany international joined Bayern Munich three weeks ago after City accepted their £54.8million offer. He was formally presented to the media on Thursday, via a global Zoom press conference, having been given Bayern’s historic No 10 shirt for next season.


Bayern’s interest in Sane goes back more than a year but the timing of his move caused a surprise, given that City still have an opportunity to win club football’s biggest prize – the 23-year-old, having recovered from cruciate ligament damage, would have been a potent weapon for Pep Guardiola.

It has not escaped Sane’s attention that his old and new clubs could possibly meet in the Champions League semi-final but even if City – who must first defend a 2-1 lead against Real Madrid in the last 16 – go all the way, he will not rue the one that got away.

‘I thought about it,’ said Sane. ‘City have the option to win the Champions League. But I made this decision and I’m totally fine with it. If they win it, then I’m happy for the club and for all my friends there, but this was the way that I went.


‘If it really happens, I don’t think I will suffer with it a lot, because I made the decision and nobody else. I just had a feeling I needed something new and that is why I came at the end to this decision. I told them I wanted to move and this was the right one.’

Sane had entered the final 12 months of his City contract, so they made the prudent decision to cash in rather risk losing him for nothing. Pep Guardiola wanted the 24-year-old to remain in Manchester but the deeper the clubs got into negotiations, there was little chance of that happening.

‘I was talking with Bayern about it and we all came to the decision that it was better for me to come as soon as it was possible,’ Sane explained. ‘I said that it was fine because we all know that if you go really far in the Champions League, you will be done at the end of August.

‘If I would have moved then, it’s quite a short time until the new season to prepare well and settle in; it would be difficult, as you are coming to a new team in a different country. That’s why I wanted it happen as soon as possible. It was never an option to leave after the Champions League.’

City may be desperate to conquer Europe but Sane has moved to a club that’s pursuit of the Champions League is almost like a crusade; they have not won that trophy since 2013, when Arjen Robben’s late goal broke Borussia Dortmund’s hearts, and he has big shoes to fill.

The prospect, though, of following Robben is not something that has flustered Sane. He says he has returned to the Bundesliga with his appetite for medals huge and wants to show everyone the impact four years of working with Guardiola had on him.


‘Robben is a legend for this club, he achieved a lot and did a lot for this club,’ said Sane. ‘Obviously there is pressure but I have my own targets and I want to achieve my own goals and I think I just take it as a good opportunity to improve. I take it more with joy to keep going and try my best.

‘Playing for Pep and working with him and playing for the team that I was playing with, I mean, they were amazing people. Everyone knows how Pep works, how he is improving players and I think I played with fantastic players from whom I also learnt a lot from.

‘We won a lot in four years. I just had a personal feeling for myself. It was not anything about Man City or anything else – if because we’d now won everything or I’d now lost the hunger or anything [like that]. It was just me personally. I just had a feeling and that’s why I came to this decision.’

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Mancity European ban lift is not good news for EPL – Klopp


Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp described as “not a good day for football” Manchester City’s successful appeal against a two-year Uefa ban for allegedly breaking Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

“I don’t think it was a good day for football yesterday, to be honest,” Klopp told a virtual news conference on Tuesday.

“FFP is a good idea. It is there for protecting teams and the competition, so that nobody overspends and have to make sure the money they want to spend is based on the right sources.”

City won their appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday, meaning they will now be allowed to compete in next season’s Champions League.

CAS ruled that City did not breach FFP rules by disguising equity funding as sponsorship.


“It’s not up to me to judge this and I don’t but I think this FFP framework we should stick to. I hope FFP stays just because it gives kind of borders that you can go to, but not over it, and that’s good for football,” Klopp said.

“If you start doing that nobody has to care any more and the richest people or countries can do what they want.

“It will make the competition really difficult and I think that would lead automatically to a kind of world super league with like 10 clubs and it would depend on who owns the clubs and not the names of the clubs. It makes sense to have these rules.”

Klopp did say, however, that City’s place in the Champions League next season might at least benefit Liverpool as they try to retain their Premier League title.

“They won’t have 10 or 12 games less now – no other team would have had a chance in the (Premier) league,” he said.

Liverpool face Arsenal on Wednesday knowing defeat would end their chances of equalling Manchester City’s record 100-point haul in the Premier League set two years ago.

With three games remaining they have 93 points with City a distant second on 72

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