Guardiola, Man City cement their spot in history

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BRIGHTON — “Do you remember that Manchester City team under Pep Guardiola? Wow.”

That will be a conversation in 2045. No doubt.

On the final day of the Premier League season Man City beat Brighton 4-1 to clinch back-to-back Premier League titles and rack up 98 points after they set a new record points tally of 100 last season. City are the first team in a decade to defend the title, showing just how tough it has become to sustain greatness.

They are unstoppable. Mesmeric. Awe-inspiring. They are true champions not only because of the style and attacking flair they play with, but because of their hunger to keep winning and improving. They could also be the first-ever English team to win a domestic treble if they beat Watford in the FA Cup final at Wembley next Saturday.

A run of 14-straight wins to end the season saw them overcome a stunning Liverpool side to win the title by one-point, as City rallied from being seven points back in early January to lifting the trophy aloft in the South Coast sun on May 12.

Pep laughed and smiled as he sat down in the press conference room after the lengthy celebrations on the pitch at the Amex Stadium.

Sat with his medal around his neck, he saw on the TV monitor off to his left that Noel Gallagher was celebrating with his players in the dressing room. A team full of smiling faces who had achieved greatness once again.

He beamed with pride. Usually so tense and tight in press conferences, Guardiola was at ease. He knows he has created one of the greatest teams the Premier League and England has ever seen, and that he can keep it going beyond this season.

Guardiola’s has now won eight league titles in his 10 seasons as a manager, but he said this is the “toughest” due to Liverpool pushing his City side all of the way and that made them even better.

Pro Soccer Talk asked him if his City team will be remembered as the best in English history.

“If in 10, 15, 20 years the people talk about this team it is because we were a really good team. It is like a book or a movie which sustains its place in time that after 25 years people watch the same movie or read the same book,” Guardiola said. “In maybe 25 years time people will say these guys earned a lot of points in one period but they played really well, that is because we deserved to be alongside the biggest Man United, the biggest Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal or whoever. Now is not the time…

“Now is not the time because after this we shower, we start to think about Watford (the FA Cup final). The big competitors are like this. They are never satisfied. They never have the feeling that it is enough. In tennis, basketball, golf, they want more and more. That is why the second title, going back-to-back, showed me this kind of thing. You know? It showed me that it was not enough to get 100 points (last season) and it could be enough. But it wasn’t. We did it. That is why we are champions.”

City have equalled their own top-flight record for most wins in a season, 32, and their incredible squad of players dug deep in the final months of the season despite the crushing blow of losing out to Tottenham in the Champions League to dash their hopes of an historic quadruple.

But this achievement is historic enough.

Guardiola knows this City team will go down in history as one of the best, and they deserve to.

He has fostered an environment for excellence and given the vast resources Man City have, the structure they have in place at the club and Guardiola leading every key soccer decision, they are set up to dominate for the next decade. The Brighton fans applauded them off the pitch on Sunday, and fans of every other club on the planet appreciate their greatness.

The best thing about this Man City side and Guardiola is that they are never satisfied. Despite all of this glory and success, they want more.

That is the sign of a true champion, and as much as their incredible attacking play is key, their insatiable hunger for success is why this Man City side will be remembered for decades to come.

Leicester City’s Rodgers: ‘Good news’ on Vardy injury

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Brendan Rodgers says there’s good news when it comes to the injury suffered by Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s 4-1 blowout of West Ham United on Wednesday.

Vardy hurt his glute in the win, temporarily returning to the match after treatment from the trainer but ultimately subbing off before halftime.

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“It wasn’t his hamstring, so that’s good news for us,” Rodgers said, via The Leicester Mercury.

“He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we just have to wait and see on that in the next day or so. Thankfully his hamstring is okay and he just felt some pain in his glute, so we will have to assess that over the next few days.”

Vardy has a Premier League-best 17 goals, one more than Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted one of Ayoze Perez’s two goals on the day. Perez’s seven goals are second on Leicester, while James Maddison‘s six are third.

Iheanacho has six goals and three assists in 485 minutes and there’s reason to believe he can feast off Leicester’s playmaking if Vardy needs a match or two to heal.

Whether he can fill Vardy’s shoes in the long-term is a big question, especially as Leicester aims to return for the Champions League.

Transfer rumor roundup: Willian Jose to Spurs, Bournemouth after Croatian CB

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London could get itself another Willian.

Willian Jose, 28, was left out of Real Sociedad’s squad at his request on Wednesday, with the club Tweeting that he’d prefer not to play until his situation is resolved.

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Jose Mourinho said he would not comment on another team’s players, but Willian Jose could help Spurs bridge the gap to Harry Kane‘s return.

Willian Jose has been a double-digit scorer for Real Sociedad in La Liga for the previous three seasons, and is well on his way to another 10-goal campaign. He’s got eight goals in 20 matches this season.

Bournemouth needs defensive help, and is reportedly rivaling Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers for Portuguese giant Toni Borevkovic.

The 22-year-old Croatian has one goal in just over 3000 minutes with the side since arriving from domestic side NK Rudes.

He’s averaging 1.3 interceptions, .9 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game in league play.

Rio Ave sits seventh in Portugal’s top flight and is managed by former Premier League boss Carlos Carvalhal.

Dropped points in Top Four race point to wild February

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Regardless of whether Wolves end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season on Thursday, there will be five teams within seven points of fourth place heading into Matchweek 25.

Chelsea has 40, a comfortable-enough six-point lead on Manchester United, Spurs, and Wolves (who meet Liverpool at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Sheffield United has 33 points.

February, specifically the next three matchweeks, will see the teams inside that group learn a lot more about their fates, and give Chelsea and Sheffield United big opportunities to cement their places in the Top Four and Seven, respectively.

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In the case of the latter, it’s because the Blades are the only team in the bunch who don’t face a Top Four six-pointer; Chris Wilder‘s men will meet Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Brighton, while the others will be beating up each other.

Chelsea’s path is fraught, but a big opportunity. The Blues travel to Leicester City before hosting both Manchester United and Spurs. Nine points there would effectively Top Four-proof Frank Lampard‘s side.

By the way, how’s this for a hot take? If any of Chelsea, Man Utd, or Spurs find their center forward or playmaker help in the window, they’ll have a leg up on their Top Four rivals. And, really, is that extra few million pounds worth the spoils of the Champions League? Yup.

Bruno Fernandes is not (yet) with United, and the Red Devils face Wolves and Chelsea in their next two matches. Spurs have City and Chelsea. Tumult is probable!

A draw with Newcastle and loss at Watford dampened Wolves’ hopes of riding into fourth. Beginning with Thursday’s visit from Liverpool, however, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men face three of the Top Seven and then a visit from Norwich City. It’s not over.

And don’t entirely rule out Leicester City from dropping into the fray; The Foxes host Chelsea and Man City, and visit Wolves.

One more nod, however improbable: Arsenal sits 10 points back of fourth but meets Burnley, Newcastle, and Everton over those three match weeks. A perfect run could have the Gunners thinking big (Man City is after that, alas).

Matchday 25
Leicester City v. Chelsea
Crystal Palace v. Sheffield United
Manchester United v. Wolves
Spurs v. Man City

Matchday 25
Sheffield United v. Bournemouth
Wolves v. Leicester City
Chelsea v. Manchester United
Aston Villa v. Tottenham Hotspur

Matchday 27
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City v. Man City
Wolves v. Norwich City
Sheffield United v. Brighton
Manchester United v. Watford

Spurs play Wolves the next week, too!

Mourinho: Spurs don’t have attacking depth, but do have ‘family’

Mourinho on Spurs win
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In this “whole new Jose Mourinho” world, the key word is family.

Mourinho said it six times in his post-match presser after Tottenham Hotspur scrapped to a 2-1 defeat of Norwich City on Wednesday in London.

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Spurs had an early lead disappear when Ryan Sessegnon gave away a penalty to Max Aarons, and Teemu Pukki converted it for a 70th-minute deadlock.

Heung-Min Son scored nine minutes later. It was a win that is good for the whole family.

From Football.London:

“It was fantastic what happened after the 1-1, which happens in a difficult moment for us where I look to the bench and I don’t have attacking players to change the game the team is a little bit fatigued, especially Lucas, Son and of course Lamela. I took him off because he was in trouble and he is a player who is coming from very important and long injury, so very difficult.

“How can we change the game? With the family spirit, the family character and desire.”

Mourinho also praised Giovani Lo Celso‘s work on the wing for attack-short Spurs as “a good experience for the family,” and Paulo Gazzaniga‘s support for returned goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as “a good member of the family and he is such a special friend of Hugo.”

I mean, I’m getting the warm and fuzzies.

Clearly, Mourinho is stressing unity and there’s a bit of bunker mentality involved, as the manager mentioned some dicey calls not going their way against Watford, Liverpool, and now Norwich.