Aymeric Laporte

Guardiola: Man City won’t add to squad in January

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Manchester City appears to be woefully short of depth in central defense, but according to Pep Guardiola, he’s happy with the squad he wants and doesn’t want to add to it.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Guardiola said he doesn’t intend to use the upcoming January transfer window to upgrade his squad. That’s despite his side sitting 11-points behind league leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, with defensive errors leading to Newcastle’s 2-2 draw at St. James Park.

[READ: Premier League Storylines: Week 15]

“I don’t want any players in January,” Guardiola said, via the Guardian. “When they come for an incredible opportunity in January for the next four, five, six [years] maybe we could think about it. Normally the players we could think would be interesting to add something for our squad – clubs are not going to sell them in January.”

On one hand, Guardiola is correct. It’s difficult to get top-quality players in January. In a rare instance, Leicester City was able to sign Youri Tielemans on January transfer deadline day last year, while Virgil Van Dijk moved at the start of the January transfer window in 2018. However, in general, Man City isn’t going to be able to sign a world-class centerback in January unless they spend boatloads of money.

On the other hand, Man City isn’t at its best when 35-year-old Fernandinho is deputizing at centerback when the team is playing a high line. Obviously, Aymeric Laporte, one of the best centerbacks in the world, will be back from injury within the next couple of months. But until then, Man City can’t afford to drop any more points.

With John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi both struggling, maybe a signing in January, even of a veteran from La Liga or the Bundesliga, could help the team or at least provide defensive cover.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle v. Man City

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  • Man City sit 3rd, 9 points behind Liverpool
  • Newcastle sit 14th, 5 points clear of 18th
  • Last meeting: Newcastle 2-1 Man City

Manchester City will be seeking a small measure of revenge, but most of all three desperately needed points to claw back into the Premier League title race, when they visit Newcastle United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Pep Guardiola‘s side coughed up a 1-0 second-half lead last time they visited St. James’ Park in January, and it was the last time they dropped points in the PL all season. The two-time defending PL champions won 14 straight to finish the campaign and retain the PL title. Man City entered that game four points behind then-leaders Liverpool. This time around, they trailed the runaway Reds by nine points.

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It’s not just the current deficit, but also injuries to a pair of key players, which make a three-peat an increasingly difficult task. Sergio Aguero (thigh) and Aymeric Laporte (knee) will each be unavailable for the next few weeks, beginning with Saturday’s game. Gabriel Jesus will deputize at center forward, but Guardiola remains without a reliable alternative to Laporte at center back. In nine games since Laporte suffered his injury on Aug. 31, Man City have conceded 11 goals. They conceded just 23 goals in 38 games last season.

As for Newcastle, Steve Bruce‘s side will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing display in defeat to Aston Villa on the heels of a three-game unbeaten run which saw them climb to well outside of the relegation zone this month. The story of the Magpies’ season, at least thus far, has been offensive impotence. Their 11 goals scored rank second-worst in the PL (ahead of only 20th-place Watford), including all of one goal and one assist from the star trio of Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin.

Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle: OUT – Jamaal Lascelles (leg), Matt Ritchie (ankle)

Man City: OUT – Sergio Aguero (thigh), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee)


Projected lineups

Newcastle: Dubravka – Yedlin, Schar, Clark, Dummett, Willems – Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin – Joelinton

Man City: Ederson – Cacnelo, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy – Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Silva – Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling


What they’re saying

Steve Bruce, on facing the PL’s bigger sides: “They’re as good as you get. We’ll have to defend well and take our chances but we’ve done OK against some of the big teams this season. Let’s hope we can again.”

Pep Guardiola, on City’s title chase: “I am not thinking about how many games we have to win. I know we cannot lose games. I am not thinking about winning the Premier League now. I never thought, even in the years we won, ‘We have to do this to win the Premier League.’ First we have to get past Leicester, then Liverpool.”


Prediction

City found themselves in a similar position around this time last season — trailing Liverpool by nearly double-digit points — before roaring back and retaining the title, so they’ll not fret too much, at least not yet. Newcastle’s poor defensive record (20 goals conceded), along with their inability to score on the other end, makes them the perfect place to begin another comeback in resounding fashion. Newcastle 0-3 Man City.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 13

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We’ve got a new No. 20!

The Power Rankings aren’t looking kindly on Manuel Pellegrini‘s insipid bunch, and are frankly as surprised as power rankings can be that the Hammers have played so poorly, so often this season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. West Ham United — It’s inexplicable how bad they look right now.
Last week: 18
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-2 v. Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Chelsea

19. Southampton — Can Saints build on their Arsenal result under the bright lights of internationally-focused television on Saturday?
Last week: 19
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 2-2 at Arsenal
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Watford

18. Watford — Quite a setback at home to the Clarets in a match you would’ve expected a point; Saturday looks big at St. Mary’s.
Last week: 17
Season high: 17
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-0 v. Burnley
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Southampton

17. Everton — It’s a huge drop, but shame on us for believing the Toffees had found their way. Their wins this season have come against the three teams below them on our power rankings and Wolves when they were at their worst. Ugly.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Norwich City
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Leicester City

16. Norwich City — That’s a big, ol’ yellow and green sigh of relief you heard this weekend.
Last week: 20
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-0 at Everton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Arsenal

15. Newcastle United — Utterly predictable away loss to Villa given the absence of effective healthy complete midfielders. They must buy one in January.
Last week: 12
Season high: 12
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Aston Villa
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Man City

14. Brighton and Hove Albion — Wondering why Graham Potter got a new contract already? The fact that we’re a bit surprised they lost at home to Leicester City says plenty about how far the Seagulls have come under their new coach.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Liverpool

13. Aston Villa — Looked very much the real deal in a complete defeat of Newcastle at Villa Park.
Last week: 15
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Newcastle United
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Sunday at Manchester United

12. Arsenal — Free Nicolas Pepe.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 12
Last match: Drew 2-2 v. Southampton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Norwich City

11. Bournemouth — Perfectly mid-table.
Last week: 7
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Wolves
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Spurs

10. Crystal Palace — Unlucky not to snare a point against Liverpool. We’ve written that a lot this season.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Burnley

9. Spurs — I’ll admit they are getting a big bump from the teams beneath them and looking very decent under Jose Mourinho (Yes, it’s early. Yes, it’s fun).
Last week: 16
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 3-2 at West Ham United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

8. Manchester United — Impressive from Ole’s bunch, though you have to wonder if we’ll ever see Paul Pogba in United red again.
Last week: 7
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Drew 3-3 at Sheffield United
Up next: 11:30 a.m. Sunday v. Aston Villa

7. Burnley — Sean Dyche is Chuck Norris’ lone role model.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 3-0 at Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. Saturday v. Crystal Palace
6. Sheffield United — Atypical blown lead against Manchester United, but the gumption to get an equalizer after conceding thrice in nine minutes is impressive. A trip to Wolves on Sunday looms large.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 3-3 v. Manchester United
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Wolves

5. Wolves — Sounds nuts given how well the Foxes are going, but we might peg Wolves as the likeliest non-traditional Top Four side to finish in a UCL spot.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-1 at Bournemouth
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Sheffield United

4. Chelsea — Given the way West Ham and Everton have been playing, the Blues have a shot at going 12/12 on point before heading to Tottenham on Dec. 22.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. West Ham United
3. Leicester City — Reasonable to think they won’t lose until Dec. 21 at Man City, and no one’s discounting a win their either.
Last week: 4
Season high: 3
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 2-0 at Brighton and Hove Albion
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Everton
2. Manchester City — An even game against a vastly improved Chelsea that underscored both how deep City is an how badly it needs to get healthy (especially when it comes to Aymeric Laporte).
Last week: 3
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Chelsea
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Newcastle United

1. Liverpool — Let’s just say it: This is a team of destiny if there ever were two (because Ranieri’s Leicester City can never lose the gloss).
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-1 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Brighton and Hove Albion

Man City issue Sergio Aguero injury update

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Sergio Aguero is the latest Manchester City star to be hit by injury.

Aguero hobbled off with a thigh injury during Man City’s 2-1 win against Chelsea on Saturday and their all-time leading goalscorer is set to be out ahead of the busy festive period.

Speaking to journalists ahead of City’s clash with Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, Guardiola confirmed that Aguero will miss the next few weeks, including the Manchester Derby on December 7 (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

“Aguero is out for maybe three games, a few weeks, he will be a few weeks out,” Guardiola said.

Man City will now have to cope without Aguero for games against Newcastle, Burnley and Man United in the Premier League and he will be aiming to return for their game at Arsenal on Dec. 15.

In the meantime the pressure of scoring goals falls squarely on the shoulders of Gabriel Jesus. This is exactly why City have Jesus, 22, in their squad, as he will now get an extended run of games in the team. Good luck, kid.

Aguero’s absence is a big blow for Man City, just like the injuries to Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane and briefly Ederson have been. Aguero has had a fine start to the 2019-20 season, scoring 13 goals in 16 games in all competitions, and with City nine points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, they will have to stay within touching distance without their top goalscorer.

Let’s see how City cope without Aguero as Jesus, plus Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne have to step up and score more goals in his absence. Scoring goals is never normally a problem for City, but that’s usually because Aguero is around.

Premier League Preview: Manchester City v. Chelsea

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Manchester City and Chelsea both defend their slimmed title hopes when they meet Saturday at the Etihad Stadium (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

City is hoping to avoid a second-straight loss after dropping nine points behind prohibitive title favorites Liverpool last match day, while Frank Lampard‘s Blues know a loss could see them drop as many as 11 points behind the Reds.

And, of course, a win will give either side the table advantage over the other.

Ederson and David Silva are available again for Man City. Christian Pulisicis in contention to play” for Chelsea after missing the international break with the United States.

A Champions League match day follows this one, with Man City meeting Shakhtar Donetsk in Manchester on Tuesday and Chelsea in Spain to meet Valencia one day later.


Injuries/suspensions

Manchester City: OUT — Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane. QUESTIONABLE — None.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek. QUESTIONABLE — Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi.


Probable lineups

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy; Rodri, Gundogan, B.Silva, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Aguero.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Tomori, Zouma, Alonso; Kovacic, Kante, Mount, Pulisic, Willian; Abraham.


What they’re saying

City’s Pep Guardiola on Frank Lampard’s young managerial career: “From my experience, experience doesn’t count much. I would say that when you know the club it is a good advantage and Frank Lampard knows Chelsea perfectly and everything behind the scenes – media, fans, players – so that is good. When I arrived (at Barcelona) not many people trusted me, honestly. Few, few people. Maybe the president, sporting director and not many. “Maybe Frank was similar at Derby. It was a big club, he didn’t take results in the beginning and people said he didn’t have experience. Look now.”

Frank Lampard on being above Man City after 12 matches: “For us to be in that position is something I am pleased with, I actually want more as well. I look at ourselves and don’t consider others, only where we could have got more points too, and there are times where we could have done. At the same time it is nice to be up there and around it. It’s a great test tomorrow, head to head to see where we’re at. It won’t be the end story, anyone can go to Manchester City and lose, they are such a strong outfit. That is what Pep Guardiola and the club have built over recent years. So I won’t be making huge judgements win or lose tomorrow without a doubt.”


Prediction

Could go either way, couldn’t it, but it feels more likely we see a vintage, defiant bounce back effort from City that looks a bit too easy given Chelsea’s strengths. This is the first big league test for Chelsea since its narrow loss to Liverpool on Sept. 22. We see the six-match winning streak ending via a 3-1 final score.