Ederson

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Premier League Preview: Norwich City v. Man City

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  • Man City unbeaten, but 2nd in the PL
  • Norwich, behind Pukki’s production, a tough team to beat
  • First meeting since a 0-0 draw on March 3, 2016

While very little has been surprising about Manchester City’s start to the 2019-20 Premier League campaign, the same can’t be said of Norwich City’s first four games since returning to England’s top flight — particularly the goal-scoring exploits of Teemu Pukki. The two-time defending champions visit the newly promoted Canaries on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com).

Man City enter Matchweek 5 in second place, two points behind leaders Liverpool, and have conceded just three goals in four games (two came in one game, their lone draw of the season, against Tottenham Hotspur). Sergio Aguero (six) and Raheem Sterling (five) have combined to score 11 of City’s 13 goals thus far. Arguably the most lethal attacking duo in the world at the moment, Aguero and Sterling will be anxious to face the PL’s worst defensive record (10 goals conceded) on Saturday. In red-hot form, Sterling scored one and assisted on three others in England’s 5-3 victory over Kosovo on Tuesday.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Though Norwich enter Sunday’s clash at Carrow in 19th place, the route by which they arrived in the relegation zone has surprised many. Thrashed by Liverpool on the opening day, the general consensus was that Daniel Farke‘s side acquitted itself well. Then came a resounding 3-1 victory over Newcastle United, highlighted by Pukki’s hat trick. Again, Norwich were hardly dominated in a loss to Chelsea before finally being comprehensively outplayed by West Ham United just before the international break. Pukki has five goals of Norwich’s six goals and was named the PL Player of the Month for August, leaving many to wonder how much longer he can keep up the magic, and whether or not they can survive if his well of goals dries up.

Injuries/suspensions

Norwich: OUT – Tom Trybull (ankle), Christoph Zimmermann (foot), Onel Hernandez (knee), Timm Klose (knee)

Man City: OUT – Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Benjamin Mendy (fitness); QUESTIONABLE – John Stones (thigh), Ilkay Gundogan (illness)


Projected lineups

Norwich: Krul – Byram, Amadou, Godfrey, Lewis – Drmic Leitner – Buendia, Stieperman, Cantwell – Pukki

Man City: Ederson – Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko – Rodrigo, Silva, De Bruyne – Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on Sterling reaching the level of Messi and Ronaldo: “They scored 50 or 60 goals a season in the last decade, and have won the Ballon d’Or and prizes every year except this one. They are legends, something unique in world football. If Raheem can target that level, wow. Of course, he can do it and I won’t be the guy to tell him his limits. But right now, nobody — at any club — can compare with these two guys what they do every week for a decade. Nobody can compare.”

Daniel Farke, on the challenge of facing Man City: “Some lads are nervous, you can tell. It’s normal and it’s up to me to give them some trust and confidence. We should go into the game with nothing to lose. I will back my lads whatever happens tomorrow. I want them to be brave. They should have no regrets.”


Prediction

All 11 Norwich players could turn in the performance of their lives, and City could still win 3-1. The gap between “two-time defending champions” and “just arrived in the big time” is massive, and Saturday’s clash should highlight the disparity. 3-1, Man City.

Roebuck says Man City culture allows ‘good working relationship’ with men’s squad

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Manchester City women’s goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck has detailed how a culture of togetherness at Manchester City has allowed for a confluence of expertise between herself, men’s goalkeeper Ederson, and the coaching staff that has helped her quest to earn the starting role for her country.

The 19-year-old England international says she feels a connection to her Brazilian counterpart due to their similar upbringing as outfield players transitioning to goalkeepers, allowing them to share similarities on how to play with the ball at their feet. Ederson has thrived under Pep Guardiola at Man City in a critical role helping build attacks from the back, and Roebuck is happy to have someone to bounce ideas off and learn from.

“I’ve grown up playing outfield and it comes a bit more naturally to me to play with my feet,” Roebuck said in the aftermath of a 1-0 derby win over Manchester United. “I think it’s the philosophy throughout the club and I’ve been here since I was 15 so for the past four years, it’s really been embedded in me so it obviously helps and I’ve got great players around me to help that.”

Roebuck added that while her and Ederson don’t exactly meet to discuss game tactics and skills, they do have contact throughout the day, and that his occasional advice for the teen comes “in passing,” a pun which she insists was not intended.

“We train outside in the same area. Their goalkeeper coach Xabi [Mancisidor] is always coming across and contributing, giving us ideas. So it’s a really good working relationship and that reflects well on the club in general.”

Roebuck earned the Manchester derby start with teammate Karen Bardsley injured, and made a critical save on United forward Jane Ross with the game still scoreless. Ross was free on goal from point-blank range, and with Roebuck moving to her left to get in position, she somehow threw herself against the grain up and to her right to keep Ross’s poke out.

She says she’s gunning for the top job with her national team, one that is highly coveted. “Obviously the aim for me is to be England’s No 1,” Roebuck said. “That’s obviously a really difficult task because there’s other top-quality goalkeepers in England.”

Roebuck was left off the England World Cup squad this past summer in favor of current starter Bardsley and backup Carly Telford, but was one of four goalkeepers called into the most recent squad by Phil Neville for a friendly against Norway last week, along with Telford, Manchester United’s Mary Earps, and Clemson senior Sandy MacIver.

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

Old guard leads Man City past Bournemouth

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David Silva had two assists and Kevin De Bruyne made history as Manchester City beat Bournemouth 3-1 at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.

De Bruyne cued up Sergio Aguero’s first of two goals, becoming the fastest player to 50 assists in Premier League history. He beat Mesut Ozil‘s record by 18 games.

City sits two points behind Liverpool. Bournemouth remains on four points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Raheem Sterling scored as well, his goal and Aguero’s second set up by Silva in his 400th game with City.

VAR again failed to award a clear penalty to a player from Manchester this weekend, as a stamp on the foot was somehow adjudged not to be a chance for City to strike from the spot.


Three things we learned

  1. Back to business — Credit Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe for trying to take the game to Man City whenever possible, but City passed its test after a dominant, infuriating draw with Spurs last week. Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero were on point, and Pep Guardiola did it without (much of) a hammer, using Ilkay Gundogan instead of Rodri or Fernandinho.
  2. Liverpool scores versus City — Kinda. Loanee Harry Wilson has starred at Derby County and now Bournemouth, and his tremendous free kick goal showed just how deep Liverpool’s attack is to not require his services.

3. Gutting injury for Cherries — Charlie Daniels had only just returned from an awful left knee injury and left this one with an injury to the same knee. Stretchered off the field and shown on crutches afterward,

Man of the match: Aguero.


Both teams took yellow cards early, including one to Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson for racing 40 yards to foul Callum Wilson.

Moments later, City were in front through Aguero. Kevin De Bruyne became the fastest player to 50 assists in Premier League history on the marker, fluffing a shot that Aguero spun past 21-year-old Cherries keeper Aaron Ramsdale.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

It was 2-0 when Silva clipped a ball to Sterling for his seemingly weekly goal.

That’s when Wilson hit his delightful free kick. The Cherries never really felt a danger to get a result, but there was probably a moment’s trepidation for City supporters.

Silva then further celebrated his 400th appearance for City by dribbling into the box and finding Aguero for a classic, clinical finish.

Opportunistic Spurs, VAR produce draw at Man City

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Tottenham Hotspur flummoxed controlling Manchester City, twice answering goals in a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and then getting a shocking reprieve from VAR in stoppage time.

The draw snaps a 15-match league winning streak for City.

Gabriel Jesus‘ well-crafted would-be winner was taken off the board when VAR found the ball to glance off Aymeric Laporte‘s arm.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

On a day when Harry Kane was largely invisible, Erik Lamela was dynamite in producing a goal before assisting Lucas Moura.

Kevin De Bruyne had two assists for City, setting up Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero. But Aguero will be remembered more for his angry run-in with Pep Guardiola after a second half substitution.

Man City out shot Spurs 13-1 in the first half, but Spurs scored with its only shot on target.

For the match, the shots margin was 30-3.


Four stars 

4. Davinson Sanchez – Couldn’t reach De Bruyne’s second assist of the day, but was otherwise impenetrable.

3. Raheem Sterling – A menace down the flank with a pretty headed goal to boot (or head).

2. Erik Lamela – Subbed off with a goal and an assist in the 85th.

  1. Kevin De Bruyne – On fire from Moment No. 1.

Three things we learned (from JPW)


The game began with monstrous spells of possession from the hosts, and Spurs had trouble getting any touches on the ball over the first quarter hour.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Sterling broke through in the 20th minute when De Bruyne swept a gorgeous cross to the back post. The English striker was at an acute angle and Hugo Lloris will have wanted to do better with a well-placed header.

That seemed to have snapped Spurs out of their funk, if only for a minute, as Tanguy Ndombele spotted Lamela on a counter and the Argentine used two Spurs to craft a clever shot around Ederson.

The stalemate lasted a dozen minutes, as De Bruyne moved toward the touch line and cut an invitation outside the six. Aguero RSVP’d with the outside of his boot.

De Bruyne looked ready to single-handedly will a third goal past Lloris, but it was Spurs who claimed the next marker when Moura — on for less than a half-minute — headed Lamela’s corner home.

Rodri then pasted a shot that Lloris tipped over the bar, and the French goalkeeper had to react quickly after charging out to misplay the corner.

Giovani Lo Celso subbed into the match for the final few minutes to make his much anticipated Premier League debut.