Bernardo

Man City hammers Watford by near-record margin

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Manchester City harvested a near-record amount of goals in destroying Watford to the tune of an 8-0 win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Bernardo Silva had a hat trick, while David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Nicolas Otamendi, Sergio Aguero, and Riyard Mahrez also scored in a match which saw City score inside of 54 seconds and five times in the first 18 minutes.

City hit the post several times and just missed a goal in stoppage time which would’ve matched Manchester United’s single game PL record.


Three things we learned

1. De Bruyne unfair: Sensational on the day in pulling the strings, he pulled a ripcord to unveil a vicious strike on City’s 85th minute goal. The way he made it look so easy to unleash so much power was an emblematic moment for the 8-star display.

2. Too much, too fast for Watford: Watch all five first half goals here. Quique Sanchez Flores opened up with Gerard Deulofeu alone up top and nearly got a goal, but his offense-first five-man midfield was a cool idea that fizzled oh-so-quickly. The Hornets have already accepted their fate as a bottom half team by changing managers after four weeks, but they may have to also view themselves as a relegation possibility despite so many good players.

3. Bernardo Silva arrives: There were fits and starts for Pep Guardiola‘s Portuguese playmaker to start the season, and a goal against Brighton was met by an assist in the loss to Norwich City. On Saturday, he unleashed his power to the tune of a hat trick.

Man of the Match: We want to refuse to pick just one, as WhoScored rated Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, and Mahrez as perfect 10s on the day. Okay, we’ll take KDB.


What a start.

It took 54 seconds for De Bruyne to assist David Silva with an outstanding opener, but Gerard Deulofeu nearly answered when he danced around Nicolas Otamendi to force a conceded corner out of Ederson.

Silva, marked for Inter Miami in a mid-week report, was the finisher for the 55th time in his Premier League career and 72nd for his club.

Ben Foster then gave away a useless penalty when he slapped a through ball out of bounds before felling Riyad Mahrez for an easy penalty. Aguero stepped to the spot calm as you like and dispatched the No. 2 to the scoreboard.

That was hardly the end to Watford’s woes, as Mahrez dazzled with a dribble through the heart of the field to earn a free kick atop the 18. There was only one destination, given the series of events. 3-0.

Bernardo Silva then got in on the act, when Otamendi nodded a De Bruyne corner to the back post for a prone finish and 4-0. Not to be outdone, Otamendi was back post for a finish of his own, giving City its fifth goal off an Aguero assist.

 [ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The Silvas, no relation, led a counter for City’s sixth goal, with Bernardo depositing the marker and the reigning PL champions within three goals of matching the league’s single game record.

De Bruyne collected another assist on Bernardo’s hat trick goal, as the Portuguese attacker scored despite bungling his first touch a bit.

WATCH: Man City scores five times in first 18 minutes

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What a start. Emphasize it, bold it, underline it.

Manchester City scored five goals in the first 18 minutes of play on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium, relegating Watford to also-ran status before the match was a quarter finished.

[ STREAM: Man City v. Watford ]

It took 54 seconds for De Bruyne to assist David Silva with an outstanding opener, but Gerard Deulofeu nearly answered when he danced around Nicolas Otamendi to force a conceded corner out of Ederson.

Silva, marked for Inter Miami in a mid-week report, was the finisher for the 55th time in his Premier League career and 72nd for his club.

Ben Foster then gave away a useless penalty when he slapped a through ball out of bounds before felling Riyad Mahrez for an easy penalty. Aguero stepped to the spot calm as you like and dispatched the No. 2 to the scoreboard.

That was hardly the end to Watford’s woes, as Mahrez dazzled with a dribble through the heart of the field to earn a free kick atop the 18. There was only one destination, given the series of events. 3-0.

Bernardo Silva then got in on the act, when Otamendi nodded a De Bruyne corner to the back post for a prone finish and 4-0.

Not to be outdone, Otamendi was back post for a finish of his own, giving City its fifth goal off an Aguero assist.

Norwich shock Man City

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Norwich City stunned Manchester City by beating the reigning champions 3-2 at Carrow Road on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pep Guardiola‘s Man City last lost a Premier League game in January, and were outfought by Daniel Farke‘s Norwich who had 11 players out through injury.

The Canaries went 2-0 up early through Kenny McLean and Todd Cantwell and although Sergio Aguero pulled one back before half time, Teemu Pukki made it 3-1 at the start of the second half. Man City pulled one back late on through Rodri to set up a stunning finish but the Canaries held on to some wild scenes at Carrow Road at the final whistle.

With the win, Norwich now have six points for the season. City remain on 10 points after being stunned.


3 things we learned

1. Laporte badly missed: It is too early to say that Aymeric Laporte‘s serious knee injury will cost Man City the title, but it is clear his absence will be a huge blow. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi were all over the place in central defense and their slack mistakes in possession epitomized a sloppy defensive display. Those issues spread to Kyle Walker and Ilkay Gundogan and perhaps Pep Guardiola’s decision to leave Kevin De Bruyne on the bench set the tone for the display.

2. Greatest upset in recent history?: Missing 11 players due to injury, Norwich fielded a whole host of newbies and pulled off one of the biggest shocks in recent PL history. Amadou was making his PL debut, while Tettey and Byram were also making their first starts of the season as Daniel Farke was forced to shuffle his pack. Before kick off you could get the same odds on Man City winning 7-0 as you could for a 0-0 draw. That is how unlikely this result was.

3. Pukki a revelation: With six goals to his name already, the Finnish journeyman was at his predatory best once again. He is so calm in front of goal and runs the channels so well on his own. He had little help in attack but gave Stones and Otamendi a torrid evening. Pukki is the breakout star of the PL season so far, and the August Player of the Month continued his wonderful form from the international break (two goals in two for Finland) to lead Norwich to a famous win.

Man of the Match: Teemu Pukki – A goal and an assist is fair enough, but Pukki sets the tone for this entire Norwich team. He runs himself into the ground each and every game, and when he gets a chance he has the composure to wait and wait and wait before slotting home or setting up a teammate. Norwich’s entire team put in superb displays, but Pukki is their undisputed talisman.


After Man City had dominated the early stages, Norwich shocked the reigning champs to take the lead. A corner found McLean and he flicked home a header to score his first Premier League goal and make it 1-0.

City battled their way back into the game and Aguero sent a good chance effort over the bar, before Norwich doubled their lead to send Carrow Road wild.

On the break Pukki ran towards goal and teed up Cantwell perfectly as the youngster slotted home to put Norwich in dreamland.

Before half time Sterling hit the post with a header, and right on half time Bernardo Silva’s cross found Aguero who nodded home to hand Man City a lifeline.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At the start of the second half Man City were still all over the place defensively as Pukki dragged a shot wide after Stones was caught out and moments later it got worse.

Pukki punished yet another sloppy mistake, as Otamendi was caught on the ball by Emiliano Buendia and the Finnish striker was on hand to sweep home his sixth goal of the season.

Late on Man City threw everything at Norwich as Sterling’s cross was nodded over by Aguero and Tim Krul then denied Otamendi’s header with a fine save. Moments later Man City made it 3-2 as Rodri’s shot from distance set up a tense finale.

Norwich held on for a famous victory as Farke’s banged up squad put together a sensational, gritty display to beat Man City.

Premier League stars shine on international duty

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Premier League stars are dazzling on international duty, as several have put in superb displays over the last week or so.

[ MORE: EURO 2020 roundup

From Harry Kane‘s hat trick to Kevin De Bruyne‘s hat trick of assists, lots of PL players are busy helping their nations try to qualify for EURO 2020.

With just a few more games to go, we round up the star performances from PL players over the international break.


Harry Kane – Spurs star captained England to a 4-0 win over Bulgaria and scored a hat trick, with two penalty kicks in the second half.

Raheem Sterling – Set up Kane’s first goal and the Man City star scored another as he now has seven goals in his last seven games for England.

Kevin de Bruyne – His amazing start to the season continued, with three assists, one goal as Belgium beat Scotland 4-0.

Teemu Pukki – Norwich’s in-form striker kept his run going (and took the Pukki Party to Helsinki), as he scored in Finland’s 1-0 win over Greece and 2-1 loss to Italy.

Daniel James – Man United’s red-hot winger scored a stunning, trademark curling goal as Wales beat Belarus 1-0.

Phil Foden – Man City’s young star scored twice for England’s U21 side against Kosovo in 2-0 win.

Jorginho – Chelsea’s deep-lying playmaker scored the winning penalty kick for Italy late on against Finland.

Georginio Wijnaldum & Virgil Van Dijk – Both played in Holland’s 4-2 win against Germany and 4-0 win against Estonia. VVD captained the Netherlands, while Wijnaldum scored in both games from midfield.

Oleksandar Zinchenko – Versatile Man City youngster opened the scoring for Ukraine in their 3-0 win against Lithuania.

Bernardo Silva – Man City playmaker netted in Portugal’s 4-2 win away in Serbia.

Olivier Giroud – Chelsea’s forgotten man up top scored in France’s 4-1 win over Albania.

Christian Eriksen – Tottenham star scored twice for Denmark in their 6-0 thumping of Gibraltar.

David McGoldrick and Fabian Schar – Scored for the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland respectively in their 1-1 draw.

Victor Lindelof – Man United center back scored in Sweden’s 4-0 win against the Faroe Islands.

Josh King – Bournemouth’s striker scored as Norway beat Malta 2-0.

Who’s the most irreplaceable player on ‘Big Six’ Premier League sides?

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When Aymeric Laporte was lost for months with a knee injury, there was a fairly standard reaction to the news.

This was the player Manchester City could least afford to lose for a long period of time.

[ MORE: Juve wants De Gea ]

There’s a debate to be had there, and it’s been had plenty, but it has us thinking: Which player is the most indispensable for each of the “Big Six” in their quest for a successful PL season?

It’s going to be a defender heavy list.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tough one, here, and we may be just a few months of consistent performances from changing the answer to Tanguy Ndombele (Yes, he looks that good).

But this one’s down to two players. It’s not a defender, as Spurs have three dynamite center backs and the drop-offs between full backs don’t hold wide-enough margins.

It’s between the Harrys (Harries? Anyway, “Between the Harries” sounds like we just started a new reality show).

Don’t be misled by Spurs’ remarkable job making up for the loss of Harry Kane to injury late last season; the big striker is still on history-making pace for his young-enough career. Since becoming a full-time starter, Kane has 162 goals in 241 matches. Would you believe he’s not 27 until next summer?

Harry Winks is the ball-possessing, clean-passing motor that so many teams crave for their midfield. He’s been a 90-plus percentage passer in every season, and has completed 94 percent this early season. Again, small sample size, but his 75 passes per game trails Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte, Granit Xhaka, Paul Pogba, and teammate Toby Alderweireld.

It’s almost a coin flip here. We’re taking Kane, but we’re basing it on a tiebreaker of advanced statistics. Anyone making an argument for the 23-year-old Winks deserves to be heard.

Manchester United

This is perhaps the trickiest call of the bunch.

Anthony Martial has been far and away the most important player to the Red Devils’ early season, sputtering as it may be, but it’s far too soon to say he’s irreplaceable.

Four players have played every minute of the early season: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelof, and David De Gea. Both Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay have nearly played the full 360.

The fact of the matter, and this belies United’s plight, is that United is too thin to have a single player who would hurt the most to lose; Forced to choose one, we’ll say Maguire as he’s the most proven consistent entity of the bunch.

Chelsea

Another tough one, though it seems like it should be an easy one: N’Golo Kante. But he’s still finding his footing under Frank Lampard and last season wasn’t a great one as Maurizio Sarri messed with a great recipe by moving Kante from his role of pure opposition destruction.

Again, Chelsea’s has a good answer in replacement players for any of their stars getting injured; Marcos Alonso is barely playing, same with Michy Batshuayi. Olivier Giroud, Willian, even Pedro.

So while we’d like to make the case for Cesar Azpilicueta, the answer is probably still Kante.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Arsenal

The easy answer is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but it is not necessarily the correct answer because of replaceability. If the Gabonese superstar goes down, Unai Emery can still roll out a strike force with Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.

The Gunners are very thin at center back, but the problem is that the starters aren’t stars.

So we’ll proffer one that’s a bit out of the box: Bernd Leno. The goalkeeper has been pretty darn good considering his team has offered very little resistance to attacks. His back-ups are Emiliano Martinez and Matt Macey. There’s no rule stating one of those two wouldn’t be a good starter, but they have six PL appearances between them (all Martinez).

Liverpool

It’s Virgil Van Dijk.

Mohamed Salah is the straw that stirs the drink, but the Reds have a very good attackers behind him (both young and experienced) and made a run to the Champions League and a record league point total while he was not exactly thriving in form (Salah had a lone goal in an eight-match league run over February and March, and missed the incredible Barcelona comeback with a concussion).

The idea of it being Alisson Becker is interesting, but for Liverpool supporters that is probably fueled more by watching substandard keepers derail their dreams for a couple of years. For a neutral and especially for stat hounds, it’s not as big of a drop to Adrian as it seems (but it’s big).

We may want to revisit this discussion in January regarding Fabinho, but Liverpool is very deep in the midfield, too. It’s Van Dijk, and it’s not close.

Man City

It was a combination of a few things, the first obviously being the players’ quality. The PFA Team of the Year winner helped City lower its goals conceded total in his first full season at the Etihad, as City won almost every competition it entered in 2018-19.

But it was also City’s depth behind Laporte, with Vincent Kompany gone to Anderlecht and the next injury seemingly cueing up Fernandinho or Kyle Walker for center back duty.

An argument could be made for Ederson simply based on the keeper’s quality in possession and shot-stopping alone but no other position, really; City may have had to work harder for the title last season with Kevin De Bruyne injured, but it found an answer largely through Bernardo Silva. Leroy Sane looked like City’s MVP two seasons ago, but Raheem Sterling emerged as the club’s best wide man and there’s some guy named Mahrez behind him.

Laporte, it is (And if you want to really get into the nexus of this article, and why the stats say there is a big drop-off from Laporte to even John Stones, let alone a third wheel, check here. Also, I’ve learned that City fans vastly under-appreciate Otamendi).

Best of the Rest

Less explanation, similar amounts of confidence.

Aston Villa: Jack Grealish
Bournemouth:
Nathan Ake
Brighton and Hove Albion:
Shane Duffy
Burnley:
James Tarkowski
Crystal Palace: Luka Milivojevic
Everton:
Michael Keane
Leicester City:
Wilfred Ndidi
Newcastle United:
Fabian Schar
Norwich City:
Teemu Pukki
Sheffield United:
Dean Henderson
Southampton:
Jannik Vestergaard
Watford:
Abdoulaye Doucoure
West Ham: 
Sebastien Haller
Wolves: Willy Boly