Fast-learning Guardiola beats Mourinho with mixture of class and grit

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MANCHESTER — Manchester City beat Manchester 2-1 to win the Manchester Derby. Pep Guardiola beat Jose Mourinho in the tactical battle to win their first Manchester derby against each other.

As the old adage goes: “It was a game of two halves” and that much was true in the hotly-anticipated clash on Saturday at Old Trafford.

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City oozed class and offensive intelligence in the first half, winning the ball back high up the pitch and demolishing United’s confidence as Mourinho’s side barely got out of their own half until they were handed a gift of a goal via Claudio Bravo‘s howler and Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s brilliance.

Before that, though, Kevin De Bruyne latched onto a long ball and finished coolly, then Kelechi Iheanacho slotted home after De Bruyne’s shot came back off the post. At 2-0 it looked game over, and it should’ve been.

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Guardiola’s side flew out of the traps and Mourinho’s side — which looked disjointed after he chose to start both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard out wide but then realized his mistake and hooked them both off at half time — couldn’t deal with the fluid movement of the excellent De Bruyne as United’s midfield lost the ball time and time again with Marouane Fellaini and Wayne Rooney guilty caught in possession.

De Bruyne kept dropping deeper and grabbing the ball off Fellaini, the disappointing Paul Pogba or Rooney and then it was all systems go. Raheem Sterling on one wing. Nolito on the other and the impressive Iheanacho through the middle. It was a slick offensive performance in the first half and if City went in at half time 4-0 up, United and Mourinho couldn’t have complained.

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Guardiola praised the mixture of style and grit of his team with contrasting performances across both halves.

“First half we were better – in the second half it was difficult. We had counter attacks and we didn’t finish. We were not brilliant in that moment in the last part of the pitch. But we go to one of the best stadiums in the world and win the game,” Guardiola said. “These guys have a heart – in the first half we won a lot of duels against a team physically stronger. In the second half, the long balls, you just pray because it’s almost impossible to control that.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Kelechi Iheanacho of Manchester City (R) celebrates scoring his sides second goal with his Manchester City team mates during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on September 10, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The reason they controlled the aerial threat of United in the second half was because Guardiola chose to take off Iheanacho early and bring on Fernando to shore up midfield. He switched things to counter Mourinho’s direct tactics and Fernando helped plugged the gaps. It worked a treat. Sitting deep and defending is not something you expect from a Guardiola side but he showed he is capable of adapting to a new challenge.

To me, that shows he is already learning from his short time in England so far.

Guardiola mentioned that his side have suffered in the second half of games so far in the Premier League and that is clear to see. When teams play more direct and by-pass City’s midfield because they are too good in that area, they are susceptible.

The Spanish coach also admitted he knows better than most how to plan to play against a team managed by Mourinho.

“This is not the first time I’ve played against Mourinho’s teams and I know how difficult it is when you lose the ball in the positions it is so dangerous. I received many goals from Mourinho’s teams to counter attacks. Because his teams are very good in that part of the game. In the first half we controlled it and concede one or two counter attacks, no more. That is really good. We defended the set pieces because they are stronger and taller than us and we defended really, really good.”

Mourinho, on the other hand, straight up said that he wasn’t beaten in a tactical battle as he and Pep made multiple changes in personnel and tactics throughout the 90 minutes to try and outwit each other.

“I think the thing they did in previous matches of bringing the full backs inside for the building up, they didn’t [do that],” Mourinho said. “They respected our capacity to attack through the wings. I think they thought about Valencia, Luke Shaw, they thought about our wingers. They didn’t do that. They brought Stones into that space a few times. We didn’t have a tactical problem. We had a problems with poor performances. We lost the ball very, very easily.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United (L) and Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City (R) battle for possession during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on September 10, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Whether those errors were due to United’s poor play or City’s clever pressing can be debated but there’s no getting over the fact that this was a huge psychological hurdle maneuvered expertly early in the season by Guardiola against one of City’s main rivals for the titles, and their crosstown foe.

The Mourinho-Guardiola rivalry rumbles on for now, but with a warm embrace before and after the game Guardiola hopes their rivalry will be forgotten the next time they met and the focus will be on the fascinating tactical battle on the pitch.

“I don’t know if he respects me but I told you that I respect him a lot,” Guardiola said. “What happened happened. We are adults. He is a father and I am a father. I didn’t come here to see about the rivalry or something like that. He wants to win. I want to win. He beat me, I beat him. In the future I am going to beat him, in the future he is going to beat me. It is simple like that. We are adult people when we see each other. Sometimes we don’t agree with his opinion or my opinion but it is part of the game. I try to be focused in my players, that’s all. Hopefully next time we play against United in the cup or the league, people start to forget about asking about our relationship.”

Friends, foe, or neither, Guardiola’s team got the better of Mourinho on Saturday and the much lauded Spaniard showed not only his quality as a coach but his ability to adapt to new surroundings and still thrive.

Manchester United vs Leeds, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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Manchester United welcomes Leeds to Old Trafford on Wednesday as a stung foe heads to Manchester days after a managerial change (watch live, 3pm ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).

Leeds fired Jesse Marsch on Monday, and fellow American boss Chris Armas will be among the men guiding the club as it seeks a new boss and a way out of the relegation scrap.

Marsch helped Leeds bound out of the bottom three last season but the club has struggled of late and enters this Premier League midweek match in 17th only by virtue of tiebreakers.

STREAM LIVE MANCHESTER UNITED vs LEEDS

Man United, meanwhile, has won four-straight across all competitions ahead of two-straight matches against Leeds (the second, at Elland Road, is Sunday).

The Red Devils can pull level with second-place Man City on points with a win on Tuesday

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester United vs Leeds.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester United vs Leeds live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Marcus Rashford had scored in six of United’s last seven Premier League matches and he’s zipped up the PL goals list as one of just six players with at least 10 goals this season.

One player Rashford is likely to pass is fellow 10-goal man Rodrigo, who will not play for Leeds. The visitors will be looking to new signings Georginio Rutter and Weston McKennie to help lead the way, while Wilfried Gnonto and Jack Harrison seem likely to keep pestering opponents with pace.


Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Antony (lower leg). OUT: Mason Greenwood (suspension), Anthony Martial (undisclosed), Scott McTominay (other), Casemiro (suspension), Christian Eriksen (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee)

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Sonny Perkins (ankle). OUT: Stuart Dallas (thigh), Adam Forshaw (groin), Archie Gray (ankle), Rodrigo (ankle/foot)

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

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After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

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Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – February 5

Premier League schedule
NBC’s Premier League scoreboard page


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Southampton vs Wolves: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Southampton host Wolves in a huge relegation six-pointer in the Premier League and all of the pressure is on the hosts.

STREAM LIVE SOUTHAMPTON vs WOLVES

After a dreadful run of form which has seen new manager Nathan Jones lose six of his first seven Premier League games in charge, including a 3-0 drubbing at Brentford last week, Southampton sit bottom of the table. However, they are just three points from safety and badly need a win to unite their fanbase, players and coaching staff.

Wolves are looking so much better under new manager Julen Lopetegui as they hammered Liverpool 3-0 last time out to move further away from the bottom three. Lopetegui has won three of his six Premier League games in charge but they remain just two points off the relegation zone.

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Here’s everything you need for Southampton vs Wolves.


How to watch Southampton vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

Saints are in freefall and if they lose this game it feels like Nathan Jones will lose his job. The Welsh coach went on a bizarre rant following their shellacking at Brentford and said he has pandered to others and hasn’t done his job properly ever since he arrived at Southampton in November. The owners are backing him, for now, but in midweek they admitted results have to improve. After spending big on deadline day to bring in forwards Paul Onuachu and Kamaldeen Sulemana, now is the time for Southampton to drag themselves off the bottom. If not, they could have a third manager of the season very soon.

Wolves were brilliant against Liverpool and have found a great system for the players they have with the 4-4-2 working wonders. Lopetegui is famed for having a solid foundation defensively but the big change has been Wolves being much better on the counter and finally finishing off chances. After bringing in Sarabia, Cunha, Lemina and Dawson in January they have added experience and quality in key areas and it seems to have given the entire club a lift.


Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options

Kyle Walker-Peters should be fully fit after a recent hamstring issue, while Alex McCarthy remains a doubt and Valentino Livramento and Juan Larios are definitely out. Onuachu and Sulemana should start, while Nathan Jones has favored a 3-5-2 formation in recent weeks so it will be intriguing to see if he persists with that despite fan unrest towards his tactics.

Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

Chiquinho, Sasa Kalajdzic and Boubacar Traore remain out, while Pedro Neto will miss this game. Mario Lemina is a doubt, while Hwang Hee-chan is out after suffering a thigh injury. Adama Traore, Daniel Podence and Joao Moutinho could come into the starting lineup given these injuries.



 

West Ham vs Chelsea: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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West Ham host Chelsea on Saturday in a massive London derby as both teams aim to kick-start their respective campaigns.

STREAM LIVE WEST HAM vs CHELSEA

The Hammers have improved in recent weeks as they beat Everton and drew at Newcastle last time out. David Moyes’ men are still hovering just above the relegation zone but it looks like they will now kick on in the second half of the season and they usually fare well against their bitter London rivals Chelsea.

As for the Blues, they have won just once in their last six Premier League games but they are becoming very tough to beat, and score against, under Graham Potter. Three shutouts in a row have them on a three-game unbeaten run and now they have all of their January additions on board, expect Chelsea to climb closer to the top four.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

Here’s everything you need for West Ham vs Chelsea.


How to watch West Ham vs Chelsea live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

The Hammers are slowly getting back to their best and Nayef Aguerd has been in fine form at center back and is now fully fit after arriving in the summer. Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta and Michail Antonio have been among the goals in recent games and there is a menacing look to West Ham on the counter.

Chelsea’s new signing Enzo Fernandez made a great impact on his debut against Fulham last time out, while Badiashile has also impressed at center back, while Mudryk and Madueke are both getting up to speed on the wing. Joao Felix will finally be available again after he missed the last three games due to his red card on debut.


West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

Kurt Zouma (thigh) and Maxwel Cornet (calf) remain out, while Gianluca Scamacca is battling back from a knee injury. Alphonse Areola and Thilo Kehrer are struggling with hamstring issues. It will be intriguing to see if Moyes starts with January signing Danny Ings up top in this game or if he continues with Michail Antonio as the focal point.

Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and Armando Broja remain out, while Wesley Fofana and Mateo Kovacic are close to being available. Denis Zakaria and Edouard Mendy are out too, but Joao Felix is back from suspension which gives Potter a very lively option up top and it would be no surprise if the Portuguese stars starts this game.