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Guardiola insists he will not change Man City’s style of play

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Pep Guardiola is a man of principle.

He will remain that way despite recent results for his Manchester City side.

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In his first season coaching in the Premier League the Spanish manager has come under plenty of criticism for sticking with a three-man central defense and insisting on his players playing out from the back and via goalkeeper Claudio Bravo which has led to plenty of sloppy defensive mistakes and just four wins in their last 15 games in all competitions.

Speaking after City’s 4-2 defeat at Leicester on Saturday, and ahead of their game against Watford on Wednesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) Guardiola was asked if he will change the way he plays to get results as City is currently seven points behind first-place Chelsea in the Premier League table.

“No way. We are going to way the play I feel,” Guardiola said. “Making mistakes and improve those mistakes. I cannot do something I don’t feel.”

He was then asked if people have to accept that his project to turn City into a free-flowing possession side similar to the teams he built at Barcelona and Bayern Munich will take time and if everyone should be patience for his project to develop.

“Football doesn’t accept projects. You have to win immediately. If you don’t win, you will be in trouble,” Guardiola said. “When you don’t win there are many reasons you don’t win. Maybe because the opponent is better but it is to improve what you are not doing properly. The mistakes of course you have to minimize those mistakes to win the games. I believe in that. I believe in what I like to play. I’m sorry if I am not able to do that and then the boss and the chairman are going to decide.”

So, Pep is piling the pressure on himself early on in his City career and it seems as though even if the results continue to go against him then he will keep playing risky soccer in defense and stick to his principles.

The big issue here is that it may not work in England against a different style of play week in, week out. Guardiola has said as much and is eager to see if his tactics work in the Premier League.

So far, it’s been way too easy for teams to press City back into their own half and force mistakes from John Stones, Bravo and other defenders like Aleksandar Kolarov who are being asked to play out of position and switch from full back to center back.

Over the long term Guardiola’s ideas will most likely gain plenty of success. The real problem is that right now he doesn’t appear to have the players, especially defensively, to carry out his wishes expertly.

With Man City’s hierarchy stating no more players will be bought in January, Guardiola has to do the best with what he has. With Vincent Kompany out injured and others being chopped and hanged all the time in the defensive areas, there’s no real sign of when these defensive issues will clear up or when the penny will drop, if it ever does, for this philosophy.

Is Guardiola being too stubborn in sticking with his philosophy and not tweaking it slightly? Or should he stick to his guns and go down on his own sword if if doesn’t work out?

If it’s the latter it won’t be pretty for City, who’ve waited for years to get Guardiola in charge and won’t be firing him anytime soon.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Watford

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  • Chelsea are without N'Golo Kante, Victor Moses (both hamstring) and Danny Drinkwater (calf) is still absent.
  • Watford remain without Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Prodl (both thigh), plus long-term absentees Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah and Isaac Success (all knee).
  • Watford have not won against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 1986, but the Hornets have won 10 points of a possible 12 on the road. 
  • Chelsea have lost three of their first eight matches this season. No team has ever lost this many of their opening eight matches and still won the Premier League title.

Watford heads south for another London derby with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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The Hornets have had an amazing start to the season and currently occupy fourth place on 15 points, two points ahead of fifth-place Chelsea, which has lost two-straight Premier League games. The Blues have struggled without N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata and there have been reports of grumbles from the squad about dissatisfaction with Antonio Conte‘s training methods, but the Chelsea coach has brushed those rumors off.

Meanwhile Watford is coming off a confidence-boosting win last weekend against fellow Londoners Arsenal, and the club is looking to take down another big club for a second-straight week.

What they’re saying

Watford manager Marco Silva on his team’s start“I want everybody to be really calm. We did really in the first eight matches but it’s too early. We want to continue to work hard every day. Everything changes fast and you need to keep going and treat the next game as the most important. But of course I feel proud.”

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on being under pressure: “‘Do I feel the pressure? Every manager feels pressure, but I try to give all of myself into my job, so I’m happy when I go home because I know in every moment I give all of myself for the fans, the players and the club. In football you know anything can happen, but the most important thing is to work.”

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Prediction

Chelsea has its back against the wall but the team’s overall quality should be enough to see them through with all three points against Watford. The Hornets luck runs out in Stamford Bridge as Chelsea hold on for a late win. Chelsea 2-1 Watford

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.