Pep Guardiola delighted with ‘incredible’ players after Fulham win puts City at Premier League summit

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero scores their second goal at Fulham as Pep Guardiola's side go top of the league. (Reuters)
Updated 31 March 2019
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Pep Guardiola delighted with ‘incredible’ players after Fulham win puts City at Premier League summit

LONDON: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed his “incredible” Manchester City players after they sealed a very comfortable 2-0 win at Fulham on Saturday.
Goals from Bernardo Silva and club legend Sergio Aguero in the first half were enough for City to move ahead of title rivals Liverpool in the Premier League table ahead of the Merseyside club’s crucial clash with Tottenham Hotspur today.
The 2-0 scoreline flattered relegation-bound Fulham, as City completely dominated the game, and the the rhythm the Manchester club showed after the two-week international break particularly impressed Guardiola.
“Our first 15-20 minutes was one of the best of the season. We played with incredible spirit, we could have scored more. After the goals we controlled it,” he said.
“It was an incredible result after the international break and having played away. We did what we should do.
“After the break playing at home is different to playing away. Always you have doubts about how they’re going to react.
“Fulham was a tough game for Liverpool and Chelsea so we knew it was going to be tricky, (playing at) 12:30 on Saturday, a sunny day.
“That is unusual and that is why I am so satisfied.”
Liverpool can regain pole position in the table if they beat Tottenham at Anfield today, but City have a game in hand and will definitely be crowned champions for a second successive season if they win their last seven matches.
However, Guardiola refuses to look that far ahead just yet and he urged his players to take it one game at a time.
“Liverpool and Man City have done incredible so far so deserve the credit. We will have 80 points with six games to play if we win next week,” he said.
“We are going to do everything to win. No matter the next competition, we will win the game.”
City, who have already won the League Cup, remain in contention for an unprecedented quadruple as they chase Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup glory.
But Guardiola said: “We don’t think too much about what people say about the quadruple. Enjoy the moment and dream to win another game.”
“Every game we have to win if we want to be champions. We have tough opponents, but that is the challenge,” he added.
Guardiola admitted that he would have to make changes ahead of what will be a packed schedule for Manchester City.
“Next game on Wednesday (against Cardiff) we are going to change a few players. It is important for the rhythm, Fernandinho is still far away from his rhythm. Wednesday we have another one, Saturday we have the (FA Cup) semifinal, Tuesday is Champions League, so we need everybody.”
Aguero, who scored his 19th Premier League goal to go top of the Golden Boot standings, was taken off with 57 minutes gone with what looked to be a slight injury, but Guardiola was not worried after the match.
“Tomorrow we have the real assessment, he says he felt something but not injured. For precaution he decided not to continue, hopefully it’s nothing serious.”
Fulham, by contrast, remain 13 points adrift of safety with just 18 left to play for and failed to register a single shot on target at home for the first time in nine years.
“From the outset we knew the challenge ahead was against a really good team. We made a nervous start and when you go 1-0 down after five minutes, it was always going to be a tough hill to climb and so it proved. In saying that, I thought we dug in and showed some bits at times against a world-class side,” Fulham caretaker boss Scott Parker said.
“We are realistic, the main focus in the last six games is to keep pushing and end the season on a positive in a disappointing campaign,” he added.


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 24 May 2019
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.