Pep Guardiola warns Liverpool Manchester City will fight to the death for Premier League title

City players are feeling positive having got back to the top of the table. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2019
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Pep Guardiola warns Liverpool Manchester City will fight to the death for Premier League title

  • City coach says his side will never give up their title without a battle.
  • Defending champions face Chelsea on Sunday after Reds face Bournemouth the day before.

LONDON: Pep Guardiola has warned Liverpool they need to fight to the death to win the Premier League as his Manchester City side will not give up.
The Abu Dhabi-owned club beat Everton 2-0 on Wednesday to go top of the table on goal difference barely a month after the Reds could have gone 10 points clear.
Liverpool may have a game in hand but the City coach is now confident his side have the grit and determination — to go along with their undoubted flair and attacking prowess — to defend their title after many were questioning the team’s character.
“We have a game every three days for three months. I don’t know how far we will get, maybe we will die in the road, but we are trying,” Guardiola said.
“We have played one more game than Liverpool. It’s good to be top but Liverpool has a game at Old Trafford.
“I don’t think too much about that but four or five days ago we could have been seven points behind, it is a lesson to not give up.”
While he often maintains a cool, calm exterior there is little doubting the recent questioning of City’s temperament annoyed Guardiola.
“We come from champions and we are in a situation where we could have given up but it didn’t happen,” the Spaniard said.
“We gave an incredible game against Liverpool. These players have shown incredible desire and performances for the last two years. How could I question them?”
Next up for City is a home clash against Chelsea on Sunday, while Liverpool face Bournemouth at Anfield.
“We have an incredible test on Sunday against Chelsea,” Guardiola said.
In City and Guardiola’s favor is the return to form of Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian was sidelined for most of the first half of the season with a knee injury and against Everton was used off the bench. But sure to start against Chelsea Guardiola is excited about he impact the winger can have.
“He had a good kick in his last game and I didn’t want extra, I prefer a few minutes to 90 minutes from Kevin and maybe he will be fresh for Sunday,” the coach said.
“What I like, especially from Kevin, he came on and he was incredible.
“You don’t win football competitions with 11 players. The players that come on after, sometimes I read which players can help us make a (difference) because some players don’t play good from the bench.”


‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

Updated 25 April 2019
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‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

  • The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments
  • Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months

STUTTGART, Germany: World number one Naomi Osaka defeated Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 6-3 in Stuttgart on Thursday to reach her first career clay court quarter-final and admitted she had been left “depressed” after a “rough few months.”
US and Australian Open champion Osaka, who lost to Taiwanese veteran Hsieh in Miami last month, secured a place in the quarter-finals against Croatia’s Donna Vekic as she launched her preparations for Roland Garros.
The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments.
Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months, a period which saw her split with coach Sascha Bajin after the Australian Open.
“I am really grateful for everyone that has been really positive toward me. It was really rough the last couple of months. The kid was depressed out there.”
“If there is one positive thing that I can say about myself, it is that I learn quickly,” said Osaka, who reached the last eight of a tournament for the first time since her coaching split.
“Definitely I’ve put a lot on pressure on myself and found it hard to deal with in the first few tournaments.
“Now I start trying to have fun out there, which is what I did before I was number one.”
Osaka, 21, broke Hsieh three times in total to beat Hsieh for the second time in three attempts this year, having also defeated her on the way to lifting the title in Melbourne.
“I did feel like I am in control, but I also felt she is taking more risks than me,” said Osaka.
“She’s a really tricky opponent. You never really know what she’s going to do.”
Osaka needed 84 minutes to dispatch the unconventional Hsieh, ensuring she will hold on to top spot in the rankings for at least another week.
She is less than 200 points ahead of Simona Halep in the WTA rankings, although the Romanian pulled out of this week’s tournament with a hip injury.
Top seed Osaka fought off the only two break points she faced, in a lengthy service hold for 2-all in the opening set, before breaking Hsieh in the following game.
That was sufficient to wrap up the first set, and a Hsieh double-fault handed Osaka a break to start the second before she closed out victory with another service break in a performance that featured 22 winners and just 16 unforced errors.
Osaka will meet Vekic, a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Daria Kasatkina, for a spot in the last four, while Latvian seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated 2017 champion Laura Siegemund 6-4, 6-3.
Sevastova will meet third-ranked Petra Kvitova next.
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-2, while Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens took down Belinda Bencic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
German number one Angelique Kerber, who won here in 2015 and 2016, takes on compatriot Andrea Petkovic later.