ManchesterCity

Can Manchester City finish with a perfect record at home?

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Sitting just a point out of the Premier League’s top spot, Manchester City are certainly one of the favorites for this year’s title.

But another question on many people’s minds this year is their home form.

Away from the friendly confines, City have eight points in nine matches, certainly nothing to be impressed with.  What is impressive is what they’ve done at the Etihad.

At City of Manchester Stadium, the Citizens are a perfect 9-of-9 in the Premier League, garnering the full 27 points while scoring an unprecedented 37 goals and conceding just six.

They’ve beaten teams at home by scorelines such as 7-0, 6-0, 4-0, and 6-3 in explosive offensive outputs even against the best teams in the league.

It’s no surprise, as City have made the Etihad a fortress of late.  Only three Premier League clubs have managed to hold City goalless at the Etihad since the start of the 2010/11 season – Arsenal, Manchester United, and Birmingham City.

But perfection is something that has never in the history of the Premier League been attained.

The Invincibles of Arsenal famously went unbeaten across the entirety of the of the 2003/04 season, but were held in four matches at home and eight on the road.

Having lost four matches already this season – all on the road – City aren’t gunning for that feat, but defender Pablo Zabaleta told the Guardian’s Henry Winter that the feat is certainly possible, but not something the team is concerned about.

“There’s always a first time to do that,” said Zabaleta. “We have to keep working hard and keep very focused on what we are doing. It doesn’t matter if we are playing home or away, we need to keep playing with the same intensity and when we play in our best form, we can beat anyone.

source: Getty Images
Manchester City’s home successes have been thanks to a full team effort on all occasions.

Even without dynamic attacker and leading scorer Sergio Aguero, who is out for significant time with a hamstring injury, they managed to take all three points against a red-hot Liverpool side.

This season manager Manuel Pellegrini’s squad has weathered significant injuries to the likes of Aguero, David Silva, and Stevan Jovetic in the attack.

The home record has also survived a ravaged defense with Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, and Matija Nastasic all missing serious time.

If the squad can maintain a high level of play at home in spite of those injuries – which they have – it would certainly seem likely that the next 10 matches could also see the same result as the first nine.

The remaining home fixtures also suggest the feat is possible.  Of the top 6 teams in the table outside of City, they only have Chelsea remaining at home.  They still must travel to Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle, Manchester United, and Everton.

The transfer additions of Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, and Fernandinho have significantly bolstered the offensive unit, and few have been spared their devastation.

While they still trail the Gunners for first place, City will no doubt have their biggest priorities on winning the league for the second time in three seasons.  It will take a complete push, including improving their mediocre play away from home.

But history beckons, and the City supporters at the Etihad will look for more fireworks at their fortress as they push towards another stellar season.

Robben extends contract with Bayern Munich through June 2018

(L-R) Thomas Muller of Bayern Munchen, Philipp Lahm of Bayern Munchen, Arjen Robben of Bayern Munchen during the German Bundesliga match between Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Bayern München at Borussia Park on January 24, 2014 in Mönchengladbach, Germany.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
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BERLIN (AP) Arjen Robben has extended his contract with Bayern Munich for another year.

Bayern says the Netherlands winger’s contract will run until the end of June 2018.

[ MORE: Names to watch in Tuesday’s SuperDraft ]

Robben has been with the club for almost eight years, joining from Real Madrid in 2009.

He has scored 82 goals in 152 Bundesliga matches, 14 goals in 23 German Cup games and 21 goals in 53 Champions League matches, including the winning goal against Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final.

Antonio Valencia extends Manchester United deal

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 18:  Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea marshalls Luis Antonio Valencia of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on April 18, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Antonio Valencia has a fan in Jose Mourinho.

The Manchester United fullback, 31, has added a year to his contract. Scheduled to become a free agent after this season, his contract now runs through 2018.

[ MORE: Chinese club claims big bids ]

Ecuador’s captain, Valencia arrived at United from Wigan in 2009 after spending time with El Nacional and Villarreal.

He has 21 goals in 270 appearances, and has played 2,042 minutes under Mourinho. This season, Valencia is averaging 2.4 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per match.

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Ten names to watch as the MLS SuperDraft concludes

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After three days of celebrating its first two rounds, Major League Soccer will complete its surprise-ridden 2017 SuperDraft on Tuesday with a 2 p.m. EDT conference call.

Friday’s first round featured fewer trades than many expected, and a bit of a stunner in its first overall pick: Minnesota United tabbed UCLA attacker Abu Danladi.

[ MORE: Chinese club claims big bids ]

Danladi would’ve gone soon after, however, with most of the surprises coming outside of the Top Six. Vancouver’s opted for outside back Jakob Nerwinski (UConn) at 7, Houston tabbed Hofstra’s Joe Holland at 10, and Colorado looked to its backyard for Denver’s Sam Hamilton.

That helped Brandon Aubrey slide to 21st, while Canada’s two Generation Adidas players, Adonijah Reid and Shamit Shome, dipped deep into the second round.

It also means some very productive college players, and supposed first round prospects, could be hungry steals when the draft returns today. Here’s some low-risk, high-reward players for rounds that sometimes see teams pass on individual picks altogether.

Chris Wingate, MID, New Hampshire — Engine room feature piece at UNH

Wulito Fernandes, FWD, UMass Lowell — Cape Verde striker has flair

Jorge Gomez Sanchez, FWD, Temple — 27 goals in two years is good

Chris Nanco, FWD, Syracuse — Showed big upside at MLS Combine

Brandt Bronico, MID, Charlotte — Steadied any worries at Combine

Daniel Deakin, FWD, South Carolina — English striker great at set pieces

Russell Cicerone, FWD, Buffalo — Combine overshadowed solid four years

Christian Thierjung, FWD, California — 18 goals last two seasons

Eddie Sanchez, MID, Portland — Game changer in WCC; Can it translate?

Jordan Wilson, DEF, Kentucky — Scottish center back did well at UK

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New rules crushed Chinese club’s Costa hopes

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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New Chinese Super League rules stopped the nation from acquiring four of the biggest names in the football world.

Tianjin Quanjian believed it had successful bids lined up for Chelsea’s Diego Costa in addition to Real Madrid frontman Karim Benzema, Monaco’s Radamel Falcao, and PSG’s Edinson Cavani.

[ MORE: Costa trains on his own ]

And Tianjin Quanjian owner Shu Yuhui says it had Falcao and Benfica forward Raul Jimenez signed and sealed before the new rules were announced. The club already has Korean midfielder Kwon Kyung-won, Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel, and Brazil’s Geuvânio on the books.

But the new rules, which will limit the amount of foreign players on a team to three, hampered his hopes. From the BBC:

But Chinese clubs will only be able to field three foreign players per game when the new season starts.

“This situation has brought a change to our signing plans,” said Shu.

“The online reports about Costa – it’s true we’d like him, and we made an offer for Cavani and were deep in negotiations,” said Shu.

So clearly Costa’s “back injury” seems more likely to be the burden of financial desires on his shoulders. That said, MLS commissioner Don Garber will crack a wry smile at the new rules.

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