Manchester City eye autumn advantage over Liverpool

Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola says he is aiming to maintain the standards he has set in his second and third seasons in charge. (AFP)
Updated 30 August 2019

Manchester City eye autumn advantage over Liverpool

  • Guardiola’s team expecting to collect maximum points in upcoming matches

MANCHESTER: Manchester City may trail Liverpool by two points in the early season running for the Premier League title, but opportunity knocks for the champions in a two-month stretch beginning with Saturday’s visit of Brighton to the Etihad.

The visit of the Seagulls is the first of eight Premier League games Pep Guardiola’s men face against sides outside of the traditional “top six” before a daunting trip to Liverpool on Nov. 9.

That run could see City travel to Anfield with a comfortable lead in the title race, with Liverpool set to face Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham in the meantime.

The form book over City’s last two title-winning seasons certainly suggests Guardiola will be expecting his team to collect maximum points over the next couple of months.

Including comfortable wins already this season on the road against West Ham and Bournemouth — by a combined 8-1 scoreline — since the start of the 2017-18 season, City have won 50 of the 58 games they have played against the 14 clubs outwith the top six in the Premier League.

Liverpool, the only side to have started the new season with three wins out of three, will hope that City finally start to falter.

But with everyone apart from the two northwest giants showing early-season inconsistency, the fact remains that the title may be reduced to a two-horse race by the time the clubs meet in November.

After Brighton, City face home games against struggling Watford, Wolves, Aston Villa and Southampton and travel to Norwich, Everton and Crystal Palace.

And Guardiola insists he can only concentrate on maintaining the standards he has set in his second and third seasons in charge.

“I’m not going to think about many points we need to be champions, or if Liverpool’s going to win or if we’re going to win,” he said.

“I know the opponent we have in Liverpool and all the other teams, especially the contenders, but what we are looking for, from the first day I came here, is to try to play in the way we have played.

“I think we dignify this sport, we dignify the people who pay to come to watch us and see how honest we are — to play for the people. And, more than anything, I would like — when I finish my period here — to leave that. “The first season, but especially the last two seasons, we were an incredible team.”

Key to City’s success has been the strength in depth available to Guardiola and he could hand first starts of the season to new signing Joao Cancelo and Fernandinho, who has fallen down the pecking order since Rodrigo’s arrival.

Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Benjamin Mendy miss out through injury, while John Stones remains a doubt.


Spurs stumble again as Chelsea and Leicester win

Newcastle United’s Dutch defender Jetro Willems vies with Chelsea’s Canadian-born English defender Fikayo Tomori during Saturday’s in London. (AFP)
Updated 6 min 32 sec ago

Spurs stumble again as Chelsea and Leicester win

  • Tottenham narrowly avoid embarrassing home defeat to bottom club Watford

LONDON: Tottenham narrowly avoided an embarrassing home defeat to bottom club Watford on Saturday as Chelsea and Leicester leapfrogged champions Manchester City in the Premier League. With leaders Liverpool not in action until Sunday, it was a chance for the chasing pack to press their credentials for top-four spots.
Chelsea's Marcus Alonso broke the deadlock for Frank Lampard's side at Stamford Bridge against Newcastle for a 1-0 win while Youri Tielemans sealed a 2-1 victory for Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
But Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino saw his side labor to a 1-1 draw at home to Watford, following a 3-0 thrashing at Brighton and a humiliating 7-2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich.
Spurs, who reached the Champions League final in June, have now won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions and appear unable to halt their slide.
Tottenham got off to an awful start as they fell behind in the sixth minute, Abdoulaye Doucoure finishing superbly from Daryl Janmaat's assist.
Dele Alli grabbed a late leveller for Spurs with his first goal since January. There was major confusion as it appeared as if VAR had ruled out the effort, but it was allowed to stand.
Leicester held a minute’s silence before kick-off to remember their late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who was killed in a helicopter crash at the stadium last October.
Chris Wood put Burnley in front but Leicester’s in-form forward Jamie Vardy headed an equaliser just before half-time and Tielemans completed the turnaround with just over 15 minutes to go.

BACKGROUND

Spurs, who reached the Champions League final in June, have now won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions and appear unable to halt their slide.Spurs, who reached the Champions League final in June, have now won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions and appear unable to halt their slide.

Ahead of City's match at Crystal Palace later on Saturday, Leicester were second in the Premier League table, seven points behind leaders Liverpool, while Chelsea, also on 17 points, were third.
Matt Targett scored a goal deep into injury time as Aston Villa came back from 1-0 down to beat Brighton 2-1.
Southampton took the lead against Wolves at Molineux, courtesy of a Danny Ings goal but Raul Jimenez hit back from the penalty spot just eight minutes later after Matt Doherty was brought down.
Bournemouth drew 0-0 at home to Norwich.
In the early kick-off on Saturday, Everton climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a well-deserved 2-0 victory against West Ham that eased the pressure on Marco Silva.
A first-half goal from Brazil forward Bernard and a late second from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson gave Everton the three points in a match in which they had 19 shots.
"It was a fantastic performance," Sigurdsson told BT Sport. "We had a lot of chances, especially in the second half. You never know when it's 1-0 -- you always want to get more.
"They are dangerous going forward and their goalkeeper made some spectacular saves. I was pleased to come on and give us a bit of comfort. There was a real purpose to our game today."
Manchester City head to Crystal Palace in the late match on Saturday. Pep Guardiola left Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez out of his starting line-up but there was a place on the bench for defender John Stones after an injury lay-off.
Liverpool travel to face struggling Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, chasing a record-equalling 18th consecutive Premier League win while Arsenal face Sheffield United on Monday.