For most of the season, Manchester City has seemed intent on becoming the least impressive undefeated them since, well, Juventus. They’re conceding more often than they did last year, scoring less, yet they still came into Saturday’s match against Aston Villa undefeated (7-0-4). If that’s what City does when they’re not playing well, they might be title favorites when they finally wake up.
On Saturday, City showed their first signs of life, battering Aston Villa 5-0 at Eastlands. Carlos Tévez scored twice.
Sergio Agüero, Edin Dzeko and David Silva Sergio Agüero added two more, and David Silva also got on the scoresheet in a match which, despite two penalties called by a linesman, played as lopsided as the score indicates. City got 10 shots on target to Villa’s two (26-11 overall) and had an Opta-reported possession of 67 percent. It was a bludgeoning.
And of course, Brad Guzan bore the brunt of the assault, though whereas the U.S. international has generally been a bright spot in goal for Villa, today he was culpable for a goal that should have been stopped. Having conceded three, Guzan left too much space between himself and his left post in the 67th minute, allowing Agüero to blast a sharp-angle shot just past the keeper’s left foot.
It was a rare error for Guzan, though you wonder if the former Chivas USA star may eventually suffer the same kind of shell shock that befell Dan Kennedy. Like the former Goat goalkeeper, Guzan’s getting no help while trying to stay sane behind a defense that’s missing Richard Dunne and a midfield that has Barry Bannan and Ashley Westwood trying to protect the defense.
And things don’t get much easier for Guzan next week. Arsenal, scorers of 18 goals in their last five games, visit Villa Park on Saturday.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday