Pep Guardiola worried about Chelsea backlash against in-form Manchester City

City thrashed Chelsea 6-0 in the league earlier in February. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2019
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Pep Guardiola worried about Chelsea backlash against in-form Manchester City

  • City boss tells players Chelsea will be out for revenge after 6-0 thrashing last week.
  • Blues boss Sarri still under threat of the sack after poor run of form.

LONDON: On and off the field Chelsea will have their backs well and truly against the wall when they take on an irrepressible Manchester City side in the League Cup final on Sunday.

Thursday night’s 3-0 home win against Malmo in the Europa League offered some brief respite for under-fire manager Maurizio Sarri but he remains favorite for the chop.

A 6-0 hammering by Manchester City in their last Premier League outing left Chelsea sixth in the table and struggling to claim a Champions League spot via a top-four finish.

Last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat in the FA Cup fifth round by Manchester United saw some of the Stamford Bridge faithful turn on the Italian who admitted afterwards some of his players still do not understand his so-called “Sarri-ball” tactics.

As if poor form on the pitch was not enough, Friday’s announcement that the club was banned from the next two transfer windows because of breaches of FIFA’s rules relating to the international transfers of minors, deepened the gloom.

The week could still end well, however, if Chelsea upset a rampant City and claim the season’s first domestic silverware in what will be the first major final between the clubs.

Should that happen it would be Sarri’s first trophy as a coach compared to the 20 major honors collected by City manager Pep Guardiola who opened his account in England by winning the League Cup last season against Arsenal.

City will be on a high after Wednesday’s 3-2 Champions League win away to Schalke — their 13th victory in 14 matches in all competitions.

GUARDIOLA CONCERNED

While that is a stark contrast to Chelsea’s stuttering run, during which they lost five of their 10 matches before the win over Malmo, Guardiola is concerned that the London club will be stung into action by their mauling at the Etihad.

“I don’t like to play in a short period of time against one team when you have beaten them,” Guardiola, whose side top the Premier League on goal difference from Liverpool, told reporters as a news conference on Friday.

“(Chelsea) are incredible professional players, they are proud and they will do extra (on Sunday).

“In the moment, I was so happy but today, I wish we hadn’t beaten them 6-0!”

City midfielder David Silva will be seeking an eighth major domestic title since joining the club in 2010 and says it is always beautiful to play at Wembley.

“It’s another chance to win a title,” Spaniard Silva, who scored in the 3-0 defeat of Arsenal in last season’s League Cup final, said. “It’ll be tough. They have a lot of quality players up front, so we should take care.”

Guardiola has injury concerns over Gabriel Jesus, John Stones and Fabian Delph, who all missed the victory over Schalke, while he said he is yet to decide whether goalkeeper Aro Muric, who has played throughout the League Cup run, will retain his place ahead of Ederson for the final.

Both clubs will be looking for their sixth League Cup titles on Sunday — a total only bettered by Liverpool.


David Warner on fire in IPL return after ball-tampering ban but epic knock not enough to stop Kolkata

Updated 24 March 2019
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David Warner on fire in IPL return after ball-tampering ban but epic knock not enough to stop Kolkata

  • Warner did not play in the 2018 edition of the IPL tournament
  • During his ban, he played T20 franchise cricket in Canada, Bangladesh and the Caribbean

KOLKATA: Australia’s David Warner smashed 85 from 53 balls on his Indian Premier League comeback Sunday but his knock went in vain as Sunrisers Hyderabad lost to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Warner, who along with compatriot Steve Smith returns to the Twenty20 tournament after missing the previous edition due to a ball-tampering controversy, steered Sunrisers to 181 for three after being put into bat.
Warner did not play in the 2018 edition of the IPL tournament after organizers stopped him for his part in the scandal.
His one-year ban from international cricket ends later this month and the 32-year-old opener is expected to make Australia’s World Cup squad and play in this summer’s Ashes series in England.
During his ban, he played T20 franchise cricket in Canada, Bangladesh and the Caribbean, and grade cricket in Australia.
His efforts though were not enough, with Andre Russell hitting an unbeaten 49 off 19 balls as the Knight Riders won by six wickets with two balls to spare at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
A pause for a floodlight failure in the 16th over re-charged Knight Riders’ chase as Russell put together an unbeaten 65-run stand with Shubman Gill, who hit 18 runs including the winning six.
Russell struck four fours and four sixes
Earlier Warner stood out during a 118-run opening stand with England’s Jonny Bairstow, who made 39, to lay the platform for their big total.
“It is good to get out there and contribute. It looked a nice wicket to bat on but it slowed down a bit which made us reassess after six overs,” Warner said after his knock.
The Australian admitted some anxiety before his big return to IPL — and an unusual solution.
“I was a bit nervous in the dressing room and kept drinking pickle juice,” he said.
Opener Warner survived a reprieve on 38 after Knight Riders captain and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik dropped him off left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
Warner, who captained Sunrisers to their only IPL title in 2016, made the most of the spill and raced to his 37th IPL fifty with a six off Russell to signal his aggressive intent.
Bairstow was bowled by leg-spinner Piyush Chawla but Warner took the attack to the opposition, hitting nine fours and three sixes during his blitz.
Warner, who recently recovered from an elbow injury he picked in the Bangladesh Premier League, finally fell to Russell after driving the ball to cover.
Warner said his elbow “wasn’t all too bad” after doing a lot of work with his trainer back home.
Year-long bans from state and international cricket for Warner and Smith end on March 28 but the duo are keen to get among the runs in the IPL, ahead of the 50-over World Cup starting in May.
The suspension did not include club games but IPL’s governing council decided not to allow the disgraced duo in the 11th edition of the T20 league last year in a bid to avoid controversy.
The pair were banned for cheating in a Cape Town Test in March last year along with teammate Cameron Bancroft, whose nine-month ban has already finished.
Smith is expected to appear for his team Rajasthan Royals in their opening match against Kings XI Punjab in Jaipur on Monday.