Bernardo Silva

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Guardiola: ‘It is not realistic to think about the title race’

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It’s late December, and Manchester City are trailing top-of-the-table Liverpool by 14 points after Pep Guardiola side’s late collapse fueled Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 3-2 comeback on Friday.

[ MORE: Three things we learned: Wolves 3-2 Manchester City ]

This is far from what anyone associated with the defending champions expected by this time of year, but as the Spaniard boss says, it has been his team’s new reality for some time now – chasing Liverpool (Leicester City) for the top position in the league. To the BBC and Amazon Prime:

“It is big for a long time,” Guardiola said after his side’s second, league loss of December. “It is not realistic to think about the title race. I have been asked the question for a long time and it is the same answer.”

As expected, 10-man City were outmatched in virtually every match stat on Friday, losing possession by more than 20 percent. Raheem Sterling put the visitor’s up by two goals in the 50th minute, but a late surge from Wolves – fueled by Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s substitutions – buckled the defending champions.

Guardiola recognizes that such crumble was due to having one less player on the field, but that his staff and his player’s can’t dwell too much on the loss or the fact that they’re 14 points behind the Reds.

“Eighty minutes 10 against 11 is so tough, so demanding. We could not defend the result. We have to think of the next game and about winning our games. It’s unrealistic to think about that [catching Liverpool]. In 48 hours we have another game.”

Similar to the initial tone of Guardiola, Bernardo Silva admitted that a once-in-a-lifetime comeback to win the title is going to be “very difficult” for the back-to-back champions to pull off.

“It is a really bad situation for us. A frustrating first half of the season. Nobody expected us to be this far away from Liverpool at this halfway point. We have to continue now. We know that winning the title is very complicated. I wouldn’t say impossible but very difficult.”

Just like Guardiola says that it’s unrealistic for City to dream about winning the title, it might be unrealistic to think that Liverpool aren’t going to win it all.

Projected lineups: Man City v. Man United

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A feisty Manchester Derby takes center stage at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as Man City and Man United need the points for their respective title and top four bids.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

With key players missing or injury doubts for both teams, there is plenty of debate about who will line up for Man City and Man United.

Below we look at how Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should set up their teams and give our own analysis of the situation.


Man City

—– Ederson —–

— Walker — Stones — FernandinhoAngelino

—- Rodri —- Silva —-

—- Bernardo —- De Bruyne —- Sterling —-

—– Jesus —–


Man United

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — Young —

—- McTominay —- Fred —-

— James — Lingard — Rashford —

—– Martial —–


Analysis: Man City have a few big decisions to make in defense, with either John Stones or Nicolas Otamendi expected to partner Fernandinho at center back, with Otamendi likely to get the nod after playing against Burnley in midweek. At full back Pep has been rotating his options with Angelino maybe edging ahead of Mendy, while Walker seems to be winning the battle with Cancelo. For now. Midfield picks itself with Rodri the holder and Kevin De Bruyne playing ahead of him, but the big decisions is who out of David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan starts alongside Rodri. Up top Riyad Mahrez is pushing Bernardo Silva for a start with Raheem Sterling on the other flank and Gabriel Jesus continuing up top with Aguero out injured.

Given their injury issues, which have eased a little, Man United’s lineup choices are a little simpler. De Gea will have Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire and probably Young ahead of him, while McTominay’s return in midfield is a big boost and he will likely line up with Fred. Up top they are sweating on the fitness of Anthony Martial who missed the midweek win against Tottenham and is questionable to start, but Rashford, Lingard and James are expected to start behind either Martial or Mason Greenwood.

Rodri, Jesus lead Man City to easy win

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Gabriel Jesus got Manchester City back in the win column with a brace ahead of a weekend derby, as the reigning champions scored a professional 4-1 win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Riyad Mahrez scored his 50th Premier League goal and Rodri also scored for City, who became the third team to break the 30-point marker and joins Leicester City on 32. Man City hosts Manchester United at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

Robbie Brady scored in the 89th minute to ruin the clean sheet. Burnley dips into 11th with 18 points, six clear of the Bottom Three. The Clarets visit Spurs on Saturday.


Three things

1. Gabby goes good: Manchester City’s second league match without Sergio Aguero went much better than the first, and the 22-year-old Jesus deserves all the credit. Both of his goals were clinical finishes, the first a beauty from just inside the 18 and the second a thumping, leaping volley of a Bernardo Silva pass. His fourth and fifth goals helped City ease to the win ahead of an intense weekend derby.

2. Rodri’s pile pildriver seals the deal: The Spaniard’s second Premier League was a scorcher of the hottest quality. David Silva’s shot was blocked onto the path of Rodri, who hit a volley past a flying, splayed Pope. We’re not sure his hand would’ve held up to the pressure of this incredible rip.

3. Feast of famine Clarets fail to give it a go: Sean Dyche set up negatively and mostly limited damage, but the home crowd will have been hoping for something more from a side which has either been strong or miserable for the better part of a month. Burnley’s last five fixtures have ended multiple goals to nil: 3-0 losses to City and Sheffield United, a 2-0 defeat versus Palace, and 3-0 beatings of Watford and West Ham.

Man of the Match: Rodri — Aside from the blazing goal, Rodri completed 90 of 99 passes while winning four aerials and three tackles.


It comes as little surprise that City controlled the early stages, and had the ball in the goal only to see a flag rightly raised when an offside Gabriel Jesus redirected an Angelino drive past Nick Pope.

Jesus would break through in the 24th minute, swirling a shot around Pope which looked an awful lot like Jack Grealish’s marvelous goal versus Manchester United this weekend.

Pope continues to shine at Turf Moor, and made a strong leg save to deny Bernardo Silva before halftime, one of several interventions in the frame.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Jesus again got the better of Pope when Kevin De Bruyne played Bernardo on the right of the box. The Portuguese sent a cross to the back post that a leaping Jesus smashed into the goal for 2-0.

Dwight McNeil ripped a free kick on frame that Ederson collected in the 61st minute.

Rodri’s rocket goal was joining by a savvy strike from Mahrez in the 87th minute, Phil Foden laying off to the Algerian for a dribble to the top of 18 and drive past Pope.

Brady denied City its clean sheet when he ran onto a loose ball at the back post in the 89th.

Bernardo Silva banned over Benjamin Mendy tweet

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Manchester City winger Bernardo Silva has been banned for one-game after being found guilty of breaching FA Rule E3(1).

Silva posted a message on his Twitter account on September 22 with a photo of close friend and City teammate Benjamin Mendy next to a mascot for Spanish confectionery brand Conguitos.

He posted the message “Guess who?” above the photos before deleting it and then saying “Can’t even joke with a friend these days… You Guys…”

Along with the one-game ban, Silva was also fined $64,000 and must complete face-to-face education after admitting the charge.

Below is the FA’s statement in full:

Bernardo Silva has been suspended for one first team competitive fixture, fined £50,000 and must complete face-to-face education after admitting a breach of FA Rule E3.

“The Manchester City midfielder’s social media activity on 22 September 2019 breached FA Rule E3(1), as it was insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute, and constituted an “Aggravated Breach”, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included reference, whether expressed or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin.”

The ban will see Silva miss Man City’s home game against Chelsea on Saturday, Nov. 23 (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) and this ban seems more lenient than many were expecting as all parties agreed to the sanctions and Silva’s previous good behavior was taken into account.

Also, here is a look at some of their mitigating circumstances when it came to investigating the situation and handing out the sanctions.

Projected lineups: Liverpool v. Man City

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Unbeaten Liverpool host Manchester City on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a huge clash at Anfield.

[ MORE: Mane jokes he will dive

This is the biggest game of the season so far, and it may end up being the most important 90 minutes of the entire 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool sit top of the table with a six-point lead over second place Manchester City, as Pep Guardiola‘s men know this is a game they simply cannot lose as they aim to hunt Liverpool down in search of a third-straight Premier League title.

[ MORE: Looking for tickets? Try here ]

Below is a look at the projected lineups for both teams, with some analysis and a look at the team news.


Liverpool

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Lovren — Van Dijk — Robertson —

—- Henderson — Fabinho —- Wijnaldum —-

—- Salah —- Firmino — Mane —-

Analysis: The only real issue heading into this game for Liverpool is who joins Virgil Van Dijk at the heart of their defense. With Joel Matip out injured both Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren have been given opportunities to step up and fill the void. Lovren is likely to get the nod this weekend but it is still a problem area for Klopp to sort out. Elsewhere, the front three and full backs pick themselves and the only other dilemma is how Klopp sets up his midfield three. James Milner‘s big game experience may come in handy, but both Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are likely starters. So it’s a case of who starts between Georginio Wijnaldum, Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and it seems like Wijnaldum will get the nod, even though Keita and the Ox are more attacking options.


Man City

—– Ederson —–

—- Walker —- Stones —- Fernandinho —- Mendy —-

—- David Silva —- Gundogan —-

—- Sterling —- De Bruyne —- Bernardo Silva —-

—– Aguero —–

Analysis: My goodness, where do we start with this Man City team news? Ederson suffered a slight tweak of his thigh in the 1-1 draw with Atalanta on Wednesday and had to come off at half time but he’s expected to be fit for Sunday’s game. If he isn’t, Claudio Bravo will come in for his first PL start since May 2018. No pressure, Claudio… In front of the goalkeeper it seems like Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy will play at right back and left back respectively, while Fernandinho will start in central defense. John Stones should get the nod alongside him given Nicolas Otamendi’s erratic form, while Rodri may be an option as he’s worked his way back to fitness quicker than expected. This game may come too soon for the Spaniard with Gundogan likely to start in central midfield but David Silva is nursing a knock after coming off against Southampton. The front four is pretty set with Sergio Aguero leading the line and Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva supporting him. Plenty of selection headaches for Pep Guardiola to sort out in defense and midfield.