Biggest obstacles for Man City’s ‘impossible’ quadruple

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola remains adamant that his side is likely to fail in its bid to win either the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, or FA Cup.

“It’s almost impossible to win the quadruple,” he said. “Surviving is a miracle and it’s nice to be there.”

[ JPW: Who has the edge in PL race? ]

Is that so, or just a big dose of humility in the face of unprecedented success? In this instance, a lot of the former with perhaps a bit of the latter.

Let’s start here: Believe it or not, fortune has not been on City’s side in the Premier League.

In an alternate reality that played by the rules of probability and not humanity, Manchester City would have a four-point lead on the table with a match-in-hand, although admittedly the Ws and Ls associated with those xG totals are collective, and not tabulated by individual xG results.

NOTE: Defined by Opta, expected goals (xG) “measures the quality of a shot based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance.”

Instead, the reigning PL champs sit a point back of Liverpool with that match-in-hand looming April 24 at Old Trafford in the Manchester Derby.

And here’s the thing: Liverpool has been less fortunate than City since each played 20 matches and the Reds had a 7-point lead on the table, conceding three more goals than expected by the model (The green numbers show how many times goal-luck has smiled on a side, the red the opposite).


3. The FA Cup (Wolves or Watford)

Man City should collect at least two trophies this year with the Cup double, though there’s certainly an argument to be made that non-cumulative titles and one-off results which can crumble due to one decision over 90 minutes are dicier than, say, a league title.

But City will be the prohibitive favorites on May 18 whether it plays Wolves or Watford, and will still have two weeks to go if it manages to qualify for the UCL Final in Madrid.


2. UEFA Champions League

City’s challenge of winning a pair of two-legged ties, one against Spurs and another against either Ajax and Juventus, seem about the same.

And the final would be one of Liverpool, Porto, Manchester United, or Barcelona.

Starting at Spurs is a big help, as Pep Guardiola — and yes, by extension, another fine tactician in Mauricio Pochettino — will know whether he has an away goals advantage after one leg.

City has won three-straight against Spurs after Pochettino claimed four of six points in Guardiola’s first PL season. And the challenge versus Spurs will roll into our final obstacle.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned from Saints-Liverpool ] 


1. The Premier League (and schedule congestion)

First things first, City and Liverpool are far-and-away the two deepest teams in the Premier League, and most would agree that the reigning champs are a bit deeper.

Plus, City won the thing last season and doesn’t have the specter of having never won the Premier League looming over it (Something which, while not exactly scientific, is a clear mental issue and evident to anyone who has ever played a team sport).

Liverpool’s defeat of Bayern Munich in the Champions League gave City more room for error in the PL title fight, as the Reds will now have to contend with two matches against Porto around next Sunday’s visit from Chelsea.

And should both advance, Liverpool has the advantage of sandwiching its semifinal around Newcastle (albeit at St. James’ Park) while Man City gets a visit from a more capable Leicester City.

The depth of City should be an advantage in the case of meeting Spurs three times in 12 days, especially with the last two at home, but to follow-up that match with a trip to Manchester United in a fierce derby gives Guardiola’s men four huge matches in a five-match, 16-day stretch.

It’s just difficult to believe that the congestion won’t cost City a win somewhere, and if that’s in the UCL it could cost them their bid for a title. If it’s in the league, then it would need Liverpool to draw or lose at least once. That part is trickier to imagine given the Reds really do seem primed to get past their second murky form stretch of the season and knock-on for the final stretch.

Transfer news: Milik to Arsenal; Telles to Chelsea

Milik
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In the latest transfer Alex Telles is the latest left back linked with a move to Chelsea, while Arsenal are reportedly the favorites to sign striker Arkadiusz Milik.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Starting in north London, Arsenal continue to be linked with a host of attacking players ahead of the upcoming transfer window and Arkadiusz Milik is the latest.

The Napoli and Poland star, 26, has long been linked with a move away from the Stadio San Paolo and given the fact that the Naples club look unlikely to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season, the likes of Milik, Kalidou Koulibaly and a few others may have to move on to offset the huge loss of funds.

Per the report Italian outlet Repubblica, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is keen to offload Milik and would rather sell him to Arsenal than another Serie A rival, as Juventus are reportedly interested too. Napoli could lower their asking price for Milik, who is out of contract next summer, if a Premier League club emerges as a genuine contender to sign him.

The sticking point for the Gunners? Milik would cost $45 million and Mikel Arteta’s side don’t seem to have significant transfer funds as they’ve been linked with plenty of loan and swap deals ahead of the summer window.

That said, if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leaves this summer (he has just one year left on his contract) and Alexandre Lacazette is also sold and sent to Atletico Madrid in a swap deal for Thomas Lemar, Arteta will have some extra cash a huge drop in his wage bill to work with.

Milik, on paper, would seem to suit the Premier League well. He reminds me of Edin Dzeko as he can hold the ball up, is powerful in the air and despite his horrendous luck with injuries he is still extremely mobile and can lead the line. Arteta seems pretty happy with young strikers Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah who he used often in central roles before the suspension in March but Milik has plenty of experience and would be a focal point to their attack.

Telles
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Moving to west London, Chelsea are reportedly want to buy Telles from FC Porto but face stiff competition from Paris Saint-Germain for the Brazilian full back.

According to Le 10 Sport in France, Chelsea and PSG will battle it out for the Porto left back and they claim that Chelsea have been tracking Telles for some time and have a jump start on other clubs. He is only contract to Porto until the summer of 2021, so there’s a cut-price deal to be made there.

Telles, 27, made his debut for Brazil last year and after starting his career in his homeland he’s played for Galatasaray, Inter Milan on loan and now Porto for the last four seasons. He is considered as one of the best full backs playing in Portugal and has chipped in with 21 goals in 183 appearances in all competitions for Porto.

As we’ve mentioned before, Chelsea need a more solid left back defensively but Frank Lampard still has an attacking playing style and therefore Telles seems like a very good fit. Emerson Palmeri is a little too defensive, while Marcos Alonso is too attack-minded and left back is an area where the Blues clearly want to strengthen in the upcoming transfer window. They’ve been linked with Nicolas Tagliafico and others and as clubs start to circle across Europe for Telles, Chelsea’s intentions will perhaps become clearer in the weeks ahead.

VIDEO: Top 10 players in the world as soccer resumes

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Who are the top 10 soccer players in the world right now as the season is about to resume in multiple leagues?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With the Bundesliga in full flow for a few weeks, Spain’s La Liga will return next week and the Premier League and Serie A will follow the week after.

Given that there are so many superstars scattered across those four leagues, here’s a list of the top 10 players set to be in action over the summer months as we will be treated to a sort of bonus World Cup with multiple leagues spreading out games over multiple days as top four, title and relegation battles take center stage.

From Manchester to Milan and Barcelona to Berlin, there will be so many superstars in full flow in the coming months.

Of course, the Ligue 1 season in France is canceled so we can’t watch Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for at least a few months. If we could, the Paris Saint-Germain duo would be high up on the list of top 10 players in the world right now as the soccer world gets ready to resume in empty stadiums.

Top 10 players in the world who will be in action this summer

10. Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

9. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

8. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

7. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

6. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

5. Bruno Fernandes (Man United)

4. Kevin de Bruyne (Man City)

3. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Which clubs have toughest, easiest remaining PL schedule?

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Now we know that the Premier League will return on June 17, which clubs have the toughest and easiest remaining schedule to navigate?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Our partners at Sky Sports in the UK have taken a deep dive into the remaining schedule for all 20 Premier League clubs and it is intriguing to see this list. I love this kind of analysis.

Based on the current Premier League table, our partners have calculated the average position of teams who all 20 clubs have to face in their remaining schedule.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

First, here’s the list and below we will break down which Premier League clubs have the toughest or easiest remaining schedule and why.


Average opponent position

Man United: 12.3

Man City: 12.1

Wolves: 11.8

Southampton: 11.7

Newcastle: 11.4

Leicester: 11.3

West Ham: 11.3

Chelsea: 11

Norwich: 11

Everton: 10.7

Burnley: 10.6

Liverpool: 10.6

Arsenal: 10.5

Tottenham: 10.4

Watford: 10.1

Sheffield United: 9.4

Brighton: 8.6

Aston Villa: 8.4

Crystal Palace: 8.2

Bournemouth: 8.2


Analysis

This is very revealing when it comes to the ‘strength of the remaining schedule’ for all 20 Premier League clubs and explains why some fans are still hesitant to see their teams back in action, while others are licking their chops in anticipation of a late-season surge up the table.

In short: if you are Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Brighton you could struggle in this relegation battle. All three clubs have plenty of the big boys left to play, while fellow relegation rivals West Ham and Norwich have much easier schedules, on paper, to navigate.

As for the top four battle, Man United look to have a clear edge on Chelsea in the race for fourth place but Wolves are also high in this list so Nuno Espirito Santo’s side look well sit to finish off another remarkable season with a flourish. Sheffield United have a very tough remaining schedule so if they can stay in the top six it will be a fabulous achievement for Chris Wilder’s side, while we should keep an eye out for Southampton and Newcastle to potentially make a late surge up the table given the respective strength of their schedules.

However, this is just a study on the average position of teams they are facing. It doesn’t taken into account the players now available after recovering from injuries which impacted plenty of clubs in varying degrees, or the fact that different teams will adapt differently to playing in empty stadiums. If the Bundesliga is anything to go by, away teams have dominated so far and that could mean that the more away games Premier League teams have left in their schedule (six of Villa’s final 10 games are at home, while six of Sheffield United’s final 10 games are away) the more points they could pick up.

We all know funny things happen late in the season every season and with an intense scrap for the top four, Europa League spots and the battle against relegation, previous form can go out the window as desperation sets in. Still, stats like these are fascinating to sift through and give us an inclination as to wide to expect on a general level.

Liverpool, Man United show support for Black Lives Matter

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Liverpool and Man United have joined the growing number of clubs and players across the world offering their support to the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA and honoring George Floyd.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN last Monday there have been widespread protests across the USA.

A video showed former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, putting his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes. Chauvin was arrested last Friday and charged with murder, authorities confirmed.

Over the weekend Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi revealed messages of support on their jerseys, while USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie wore an armband saying ‘Justice for George’ and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram took a knee after he scored in the Bundesliga.

On Monday Liverpool players posted a photo of their entire squad taking a knee around the center circle at Anfield during a training session with the message Black Lives Matter and Unity is Strength, while Man United star Marcus Rashford released a powerful statement on the widespread protests across the USA.

Paris Saint-Germain and France superstar Kylian Mbappe also posted an image on social media with the caption “police with us, not against us.”

Across the soccer world clubs and players are speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and honoring George Floyd.