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Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Manchester City


Pep time has arrived.

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Guardiola is deemed to be the final piece in the jigsaw for Sheikh Mansour’s grand project at Manchester City. Regarded as the best coach in the world, Guardiola has succeeded at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning 21 trophies over seven seasons as a manager.

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The legendary Spanish coach will lock horns with Jose Mourinho in Manchester as their mouth-watering rivalry continues. Guardiola will have to adapt to English soccer but he’s already been given big money to spend this summer and his new-look City side is starting to gel. His main aim will be to succeed in Europe but he will also be tasked with bringing another PL title to the Etihad. Basically, City has to play in a stylish way and win every single trophy out there. No pressure, Pep…

With Leroy Sane arriving and John Stones reportedly on the way, City will have a much younger feel to their team this season and Guardiola has already singled out individuals in preseason for not being fit enough as well as banning pizza and having everyone on a strict diet. He’s not messing around and his strict rules aren’t for everyone but it certainly gets results.

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City will sweep all before them and win the title at a canter because… This is Guardiola and City will spend whatever to make sure he’s a success. They may not clean up this season but over the next few years Guardiola has the chance to build a dynasty at the Etihad. He’s a tremendous coach with a superb record of making young players better.

Actually, City will just struggle to finish in top four: It could take Guardiola some time to get used to the pace and power of the PL week in, week out. This will be a new challenge for him so let’s see how quickly the players take to his methods. This may be more difficult than most people think.

Best Possible XI

—– Hart —–

— Sagna — Kompany — Stones (?) — Clichy —

—– Fernandinho — Gundogan ——

— Sane — Silva — De Bruyne —

—– Aguero —–

Transfers in: Leroy Sane ($49 million, Schalke 04), Nolito ($18.4 million, Celta Vigo), Ilkay Gundogan ($26.7  million, Borussia Dortmund), Aaron Mooy (Free, Melbourne City FC), Oleksandr Zinchenko ($2.2 million, FC Ufa)

Transfers out: Martin Demichelis, Richard Wright (Both released)

Last season: City faded badly and finished in fourth place last season, just securing a spot in the UEFA Champions League playof round ahead of Manchester United. Manuel Pellegrini announced he was leaving in January and Guardiola’s appointment was also announced to add a sense of transition over the second half of the campaign. City still won the Capital One Cup and reached the UCL semifinals for the first-time in their history (losing to eventual winners Real Madrid 1-0 on aggregate) as Pellegrini left with his head held high.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Star player: Sergio Aguero – He is the main jewel in City’s glittering crown. Aguero has scored 102 PL goals in 150 PL games for City since arriving in 2012. The Argentina is a predator and with Kevin De Bruyne, Sane and David Silva feeding him chances, there’s every chance he will break through the 30-goal mark in the PL. At 28, he’s entering his prime. Now, he just needs a season without injuries to smash records.

Coach’s corner: Guardiola is the man who will take City to the next level. At least, that’s the plan. He has never finished outside of the top two of each domestic season he has managed and he has never not made at least the semifinals of the UCL. He has an imperious record at both Barca and Bayern but this is his biggest challenge yet. And he knows it. Guardiola’s fluid passing system and insistence on winning the ball back within six seconds from the opposition means this City squad must be fitter than any other team in the PL. That could take a while so patient will be needed from City’s loyal, but expectant, fans.

SHENZHEN, CHINA - JULY 27: Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola attends a press conference for 2016 International Champions Cup match between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund at Shenzhen Stadium on July 27, 2016 in Shenzhen, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

PST predicts: If John Stones arrives and Guardiola can mold him into the defensive lynchpin he’s had at previous clubs then that will make a huge difference for City. Going forward they have an embarrassment of riches and should score goals for fun. Question marks around Hart in goal and the fitness issues plaguing captain Vincent Kompany are the biggest concern for City but if Guardiola can get the balance right then there’s no reason why City can’t win the title. They have the players and now the manager to dominate the PL.

Mexico smothers Cuba 7-0 to start Gold Cup strong

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If Tata Martino envisioned a perfect start to the 2019 Gold Cup, his wildest dreams came true as Mexico dismantled Cuba 7-0 in their first group stage game of the competition. In a completely dominating 90 minutes, Mexico asserted itself as one of the premiere title contenders of the tournament.

21-year-old Uriel Antuna, on his third international cap, snagged a hat-trick while Raul Jimenez was spectacular in the attack, with a hand in each of the first four goals of the game.

The onslaught started just two minutes in via a clown show at the back for Cuba that saw three defenders completely whiff on a clearance, with the ball coming off the post as well before Antuna bundled it into the back of the net for his first of a memorable night.

Raul Jimenez came inches away from doubling the lead in the eighth minute as he put a diving header just wide right as the early slaughter continued. After the opening 15 minutes, Mexico seemed to take its foot off the gas pedal, cruising through to halftime with very little goal action but also hardly allowing Cuba to see a touch of the ball, holding 76% possession through the first half-hour.

On the 30-minute mark, however, the second goal that had been begging finally came and the storm continued. Right through the heart of the Cuba defense, Wolves star Raul Jiminez finished it off through the two center-backs and past goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez. The third came before halftime as Diego Reyes bagged his first international goal since March of 2017 as a corner swung in to Jimenez at the far post and he poked it on net. While Sanchez saved his weak effort that seemed more like a delivery, it was pushed right to Reyes on the doorstep for the poke.

Cuba couldn’t make it to halftime before conceding again, with Mexico breaking down the right via Jiminez who crossed to the middle for Roberto Alvarado. The Cuban defense tracked back to intercept the initial cross, but the rebound fell to Antuna who stepped in front of Andres Guardado and ripped his second of the game.

The second half was no different as Mexico continued to pour it on, with Jimenez adding his second past the hour mark and 21-year-old Alexis Vega bagged his first international goal with 16 minutes to go. On the 80th minute, Antuna got free down the right and finished from a tight angle for his hat-trick.

Canada hammers Martinique 4-0 to begin 2019 Gold Cup

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19-year-old Gent striker Jonathan David is your trivia answer of the summer, scoring the opening goals of the 2019 Gold Cup as Canada comfortably downed Martinique 4-0 behind the youngster’s brace.

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The youngster scored his fifth international goal in just his fifth cap, continuing a hot start to his Canadian career. The winning moment came off a mistake at the back as Martinique goalkeeper Loic Chauvet misfired a pass to defender Daniel Herelle and David pounced, producing a delicious finish that saw him keep his cool to get Chauvet on the ground before clipping into the back of the net.

Martinique did not go down without a fight, as Kevin Parsemain missed a trio of great chances all just before halftime. The first saw him take a Kevin Fortune cross and toe-poke just wide left with the goal gaping, and moments later Atiba Harris was caught in possession leading to a Parsemain breakaway, but Milan Borjan saved low on the shot. Lastly, in first-half stoppage time, Parsemain put Canadian defender Derek Cornelius on his rear but his shot again was saved by Borjan at the near post.

In the second half Canada appeared to come out defensive-minded, and they struck on a ball over the top that completely fleeced the Martinique back line. Davis flashed by the high defensive line and latched onto the long ball from Samuel Piette, firing cooly past Chauvet yet again to put Canada up 2-0.

The floodgates opened after the hour mark, with Junior Hoilett and Scott Arfield both finding the back of the net with the Martinique back line all over the place. The rest of the match featured David going for his hat-trick, dragging a late shot wide left from distance looking for the milestone. Canada secured a solid start to the tournament just hours after the country’s women played to victory over New Zealand out in France at the World Cup.

Colombia downs Argentina 2-0 after big Messi miss

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A miserable opening 45 minutes gave way to a more exciting second half, and Roger Martinez came off the bench to win the day with a 71st minute stunner to give Colombia all three points in Bahia, supported by a late cherry on top from Duvan Zapata.

The goal came just minutes after Lionel Messi missed a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead during a spell of serious possessional domination midway through the second half. Once again, the Argentinian collection of star forwards came up empty, a drought that continues to plague the side in big matches.

The first half, largely, was a physical mess with very few real chances on net. The possession was nearly even between the two sides, neither team registered a shot on target, and there were just five shots overall in the first half, including just one for Argentina.

Early on, Lionel Messi was at the heart of Argentina’s best chance as he delivered a stunning long ball forward for Sergio Aguero, but with David Ospina coming acres out of his net to challenge with a flying karate kick, the offside flag went up to end the chance. Colombia was dealt an early blow as Luis Muriel was forced off with an early thigh injury, replaced by Martinez in a move that would eventually prove critical.

Argentina suffered a near-disaster when Nicolas Otamendi delivered a dangerous back-pass to goalkeeper Franco Armani who sent it right back to his defender with both under heavy pressure, but they escaped just conceding a corner and it came to nothing for Colombia.

After the break, the game opened up a bit but there were still few chances on net. Messi nearly weaved his way through the entire Colombian defense, nutmegging Davinson Sanchez before Wilmar Barrios came in to cut the ball off, but the referee made a controversial decision not to award an illegal back-pass as Barrios then touched back to Ospina who collected in his arms. Instead, he showed a yellow card to Leandro Paredes for dissent after the action arguing his case.

The two teams burst into a scuffle when Messi was hacked down by Juan Cuadrado past the hour mark as Argentina began to grab hold of the game. Cuadrado received a yellow of his own and was withdrawn shortly thereafter. On the hour mark, Messi had a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead, but as Paredes saw his effort saved, the rebound came to Messi but he headed wide right from point-blank range despite the goal gaping.

Minutes later Colombia took the lead through a simple yet stunning move as Martinez burst down the left and cut inside just outside the top of the penalty area, unleashing a fabulous strike that left a diving Armani with no chance as it buried into the side netting inside the far post.

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli somehow decided that 31-year-old Matias Suarez was the choice for a last throw of the dice off the bench, choosing the man with two prior international caps over the likes of Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez. Instead, Colombia went down the other end and eviscerated the Argentina defense with a vicious counter down the left as Roger Martinez combined with Jefferson Lerma. The latter crossed to the doorstep and Zapata – who came on just five minutes earlier for Radamel Falcao – somehow beat the napping center-back pairing of German Pezzella and Otamendi.

The win for Colombia gives them an early advantage in Group B, while Argentina can still rescue its situation with matches remaining against Paraguay and Qatar. The loss marks the third in Argentina’s last four competitive matches, with losses to France and Croatia in World Cup play prior to this defeat.

Follow Live: Gold Cup kicks off with Mexico and Canada in action

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The 2019 Gold Cup is here, and both Mexico and Canada are in play as the tournament kicks off at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The games mark the first round of Group A play as Canada officially kicks things off against Martinique at 7:30 p.m. ET, while Mexico takes the field at 9:30 p.m. ET.

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Canada made its way to its 11th straight Gold Cup by bulldozing the CONCACAF Nations League with a perfect 4-0-0 record and a +17 goal differential to finish atop the table along with Haiti. Martinique takes the field for its sixth Gold Cup having also recorded a 4-0-0 record in the Nations League.

Mexico, meanwhile, will see Tata Martino take charge of his first competitive match as head man of El Tri. He comes into the Gold Cup on a high, having won each of the four previous matches he has taken charge of. Mexico has high expectations for the tournament, and a big start over Cuba would set the stage.