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.

Conte not going to sell Matic, enjoys quality midfield headache

VELDEN, AUSTRIA - JULY 20: Nemanja Matic of Chelsea reacts during the friendly match between WAC RZ Pellets and Chelsea F.C. at Worthersee Stadion on July 20, 2016 in Velden, Austria. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images
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Antonio Conte feels he has a bit of an embarrassment of riches in his midfield, not that it’s a problem outside of deciding who hits the pitch.

The Chelsea boss does not plan on selling Nemanja Matic despite the acquisition of N'Golo Kante — in fact Conte thinks Matic can be one of the best in the world.

[ MORE: New club for Pato ]

That’s not surprising, given that Matic was one of the keys to Chelsea’s 2014-15 PL title run.

Conte says he has some tricky selections to make in the coming days, as Chelsea prepares to open its Premier League season Aug. 15 at West Ham United.

From ChelseaFC.com:

“Kante is a good player and he was a target of our market. I am pleased the club took this player, it’s fantastic,” said the 46-year-old. “The players in a great team like Chelsea must know there are many players that can play. It’s important for me to have a good choice to try the best solution game by game. It’s important for me to see always the right attitude and behaviour from the players.

“When I have players like N’Golo, Nemanja, Cesc, Oscar and Chalobah, and Mikel who is in the Olympics, it is not easy to choose. I want to have this problem.”

For a manager who loves to keep it tight in the midfield, it would be far from shocking to see Matic and Kante behind two attacking mids (Willian and Hazard?) or even three.

Regardless, Chelsea’s match day tactics will be one of the more fascinating subplots of 2016, especially when Conte matches up against the Blues’ former boss Jose Mourinho (Oct. 22 at Stamford Bridge and April 15 at Old Trafford).

Spain’s Villarreal signs Brazilian striker Pato

SWANSEA, WALES - APRIL 09:  Alexandre Pato of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at Liberty Stadium on April 9, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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MADRID (AP) Brazilian club Corinthians says it has agreed to transfer striker Alexandre Pato to Villarreal in Spain.

Corinthians says on its club website that it has “agreed to the final administrative details of the negotiation” for Pato’s move to Villarreal.

[ MORE: MLS All Star Game preview ]

It adds that both clubs have agreed to not release the financial details of the transfer.

The 26-year-old Pato played for AC Milan from 2007 to 2013, before returning to his native Brazil with Corinthians. He played the second half of last season on loan at Chelsea in the English Premier League.

Roberto Martinez linked to Atlanta United gig by Taylor Twellman

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Roberto Martinez, manager of Everton gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light on May 11, 2016 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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When news of Sigi Schmid’s departure from Seattle broke, there were plenty of folks wondering who could be the second coach in the Sounders’ MLS history.

One of those doing so publicly was ESPN writer Marc Connolly, who asked whether former Wigan and Everton boss Roberto Martinez could be interested in the gig.

[ MORE: Sounders, Schmid part ways ]

Fellow media member Taylor Twellman is obviously well-connected, and his reply raised some eyebrows, especially given the news that technical director Carlos Bocanegra is closing in on selecting the first manager in Atlanta United history.

Ryan is the quarterback of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, for those unaware. Martinez and Twellman worked together for ESPN this summer.

Is Martinez to MLS really a thing? He’s also been linked to the vacant Hull City job, and would be one of the highest profile coaches to make the switch in the history of the league.

Premier League preseason: Everton, Burnley win; Spurs fall to Juventus

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - JULY 26:  Muhamed Besic of Everton celebrates after scoring the third goal during the pre-season friendly match between MK Dons and Everton at Stadium mk on July 26, 2016 in Milton Keynes, England.  (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
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Four Premier League teams were in action on Tuesday, with two picking up wins and not a clean sheet in the joint.

[ MORE: Sounders, Schmid part ways ]

MK Dons 1-3 Everton

Ronald Koeman‘s men got goals from Gerard Deulofeu, Ross Barkley and Muhamed Besic, but wasn’t entirely pleased with every facet of their game.

From EvertonFC.com:

“The team, the players, we need to press better. The pitch in some stages of the game was too long. If you press up front, it means the midfielders they need to push up as well and it’s the same for the defenders.”

Bolton 1-2 Burnley

Andre Gray will likely be a well-known Premier League entity when his career is done, and the way he’s playing it could be by the time this season is complete. The Burnley man scored for the fifth time in four preseason games, and Josh Ginnelly also scored for the Clarets.

Barnsley 2-2 Hull City

Adama Diomande and Jarrod Bowen scored as the Tigers stayed unbeaten in preseason play.

Spurs 1-2 Juventus — RECAP