Eliaquim Mangala

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Mangala leaves Man City for Valencia return

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Once among the most expensive defensive signings in football, Eliaquim Mangala is leaving Manchester City for pennies on the dollar (or pound).

Valencia announced the center back’s capture on Monday, saying the 28-year-old would join on a two-year deal.

[ MORE: USSF promotes Stewart, hires USWNT GM ]

Mangala joined Man City from Porto for $54 million in 2014 and appeared 79 times over parts of three seasons, taking a short loan at Everton and a full season in La Liga.

That was 2016-17 with his new club Valencia, where he played in 30 matches and posted two goals with decent defensive numbers.

Last season he logged around 600 minutes for City and another 134 with Everton, but signed a one-year contract extension late in the season. His lone bit of silverware with City came in 2017-18.

Given his age and position, we may still see some return on Mangala’s promise. $54 million for defenders may not be anything too crazy these days, but it certainly was in 2014. His time wasn’t quite a bust — he put in a pretty good performance during his first season at the Etihad Stadium — but it was very close.

PL Sunday preview: Manchester derby; Chelsea, Liverpool go for 12

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You could say that Sunday is a big day of Premier League fixtures, but you’d be massively under-selling a six-and-a-half-hour period that see four games played, featuring five of the PL’s “big six” sides.

[ MORE: Spurs grind out another win despite mounting injuries ]

Liverpool vs. Fulham — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

In the day’s first game, Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool will seek to become the first side in the PL to reach a dozen games without a defeat. Doing so with a victory at Anfield would (temporarily) vault them ahead of Chelsea and Manchester City for top spot in the title race. A swift response will be required after a shocking defeat away to Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday. It’s not the first time the Reds have lost away on the continent this season: after losing to Napoli last month, Liverpool returned to domestic play and secured a scoreless home draw with Man City.

While Tuesday’s hiccup might seem a disaster in Liverpool’s world, last-place Fulham would beg to differ. The Cottagers haven’t won since Aug. 26, game no. 3 of the season, and have managed just two points from the eight games they’ve played since. On the bright, they sit just three points adrift of 17th place and can drag themselves clear of the relegation zone with a few decent results. Slavisa Jokanovic‘s side has had plenty of problems on both ends of the field — they’ve scored just four goals in their last seven games, simultaneously conceding 20 of the 29 they’ve given up on the season.

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) | Fulham — OUT: None


Chelsea vs. Everton — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Very few foresaw a title challenge from Chelsea in Maurizio Sarri‘s first season in England, but the Blues sit second in the table (ahead of Liverpool on goal differential) nearly one-third of the way through the season, also yet to lose (in any competition) in 2018-19. Eden Hazard appears fully recovered from his back injury, which severely limited his minutes late last month, after playing 62 minutes in Thursday’s Europa League win away to BATE Borisov. The Belgian superstar is joint-top of the Golden Boot race with seven goals (plus four assists — tied-fourth most) and has been the best player in the PL, by a substantial margin. In comparison to City and Liverpool’s stingy number of goals conceded — four and five, respectively — Chelsea’s eight seems uninspiring, yet remains next-best by a good distance.

It’s been nearly five years (Dec. 4, 2013, against Manchester United) since Everton last won away to one of the PL’s “big six” sides. Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge is merely the Toffees’ next opportunity to break their 30-game skid (0W-9D-21L), but it’s hardly a golden one. It’s been nearly as many tries, 23, since Everton last won away to the Blues (Nov. 26, 1994). Everton’s newly crowned talisman, Richarlison, has been made available for selection after being an injury doubt all week. Marco Silva won’s be so lucky in defense, though, as first-choice center back Kurt Zouma, on loan from Chelsea, is ineligible to play against his parent club.

INJURIES: Chelsea — OUT: None | Everton — OUT: None


Man City vs. Man United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The third and final — though first in the table — unbeaten side, Man City, will host a Man United side which has (somewhat predictably) fallen on hard times in Jose Mourinho’s third season at the club. Despite winning three of their last four league games, the Red Devils enter Sunday’s Manchester derby seven points (and four places) behind fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur. However, Tuesday’s Champions League triumph away to Juventus will have United feeling full of confidence when they visit the Etihad Stadium. Mourinho has been strangely quiet this week — with regards to City, not Juve — offering few, if any, words about City’s financial fair play predicament or his side’s chances. Perhaps the red half of Manchester has begun to accept the city for its newfound blueness.

As for City, what’s to dislike about a side that has dropped just two points in its last 11 games (all competitions) and has shown no signs whatsoever of dropping off from last season’s record-setting performance? Sure, Kevin De Bruyne is set to miss a couple months due to a knee injury, for the second time this season, but he’s appeared in just three league games thus far (started none — 82 total minutes), yet City have won 29 of a possible 33 points. There’s also a small matter of avenging the home loss of last season, which prevented Pep Guardiola‘s side clinching the title against its most bitter rivals.

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Claudio Bravo (achilles), Eliaquim Mangala (knee) | Man United — OUT: Antonio Valencia (undisclosed)


Arsenal vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Since suffering defeat in each of their first two games this season, Arsenal have fancied themselves as one of the unbeatens, winning 13 and drawing three of their 16 games since. The somewhat troubling part of those impressive numbers, though, is the fact that the three draws have all come in the Gunners’ last four games (two in the PL, one in the Europa League). On the plus side, one of those league draws came against Liverpool last weekend, signaling the Gunners might just be credible peers to title contenders once again.

Their opponents on Sunday, Wolves, have struggled in recent weeks after a strong start to the season. Three straight losses have dropped Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side to 11th in the table, and an inability to score from open play has been a key culprit. Wolves scored twice in last weekend’s 3-2 loss to Tottenham, but each tally came from the penalty spot, after being held scoreless by Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion — not exactly defensive world-beaters. Still, to be seven points and seven spots clear of the relegation zone right now, in the club’s first season back in the PL since 2012, has been a dream start everyone involved with the club would have taken back in August.

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Stephan Lichtsteiner (hamstring), Laurent Koscielny (achilles), Danny Welbeck (ankle) | Wolves — OUT: None

PL Sunday preview: Man City, Chelsea go for 11 unbeaten

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Two of the Premier League’s three remaining unbeaten sides will be in action on Sunday, when Manchester City and Chelsea attempt to match Liverpool’s 11-game unbeaten run to start the season.

[ MORE: Arsenal come back to snatch a point vs. Liverpool | Three things ]

Manchester City vs. Southampton — 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Pep Guardiola‘s side has already won twice this week — knocking off fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, followed by a League Cup round of 16 triumph over Fulham on Thursday — and now they turn their attention to a drastically less tricky challenge in relegation-threatened Southampton, who entered the weekend stuck in 16th place. Yet again, Man City will be without world-class midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who suffered another knee injury against Fulham in just his second game back from his last knee injury. Alas, City have been incomprehensibly dominant without De Bruyne, who is yet to start a PL game this season, to the tune of a +24 goal differential after 10 games. Despite such a strong start, City are yet to put any distance between themselves and the chasing pack. Liverpool went top of the table with their draw away to Arsenal on Saturday, and the two title contenders appear destined to battle one another for the next seven months.

On the other side, it’s been more than two months since Saints last won a league game (Sept. 1), their only victory in PL play this season. What’s worse, it’s been nearly as long (more than five full games) since they last scored a goal. On the bright side, a pair of 0-0 draws have seen Saints pick up a point in back-to-back games. Manager Mark Hughes is hoping that defensive solidity will be a foundation to build upon on Sunday.

“It’s back to back clean sheets, which reinforces our feeling that defensively we’re in better shape than we have been,” he said this week. “That will help us and give us confidence at the top-end of the pitch to really go for teams because we should know that we have got good defensive capabilities.”

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Claudio Bravo (achilles), Eliaquim Mangala (knee) | Southampton — OUT: None

Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace — 11 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Maurizio Sarri is yet to taste PL defeat as Chelsea manager, and he’ll look to continue his fine start to life in England when 14th-place Palace visits Stamford Bridge. While his side performed well on one end of its League Cup victory over Derby County this week, he wasn’t all too pleased with how they defended against the Championship side.

“In the last match I have to say Derby played a very good match,” he said. “We played well in the offensive phase, but a lot of mistakes in the defensive phase. It’s clear we need to improve. I am used to having problems like this in the first months. In Burnley I saw a very good performance in the defensive phase. Three days after I saw a lot of mistakes. It means we are a not a continuously solid team at the moment. It’s dangerous.”

Palace are yet another side starving for goals ahead of the weekend, as they’ve played 395 minutes (Oct. 1 – all competitions) without finding the back of the net, and are winless (two draws) in their last five league games. Sunday will see Ruben Loftus-Cheek up against his former loan home, for whom he excelled and earned himself a place in the regular rotation at Chelsea.

INJURIES: Chelsea — OUT: None | Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Scott Dann (knee)

PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Brighton

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  • Manchester City has never lost to Brighton at home
  • Brighton has not kept a clean sheet this season
  • Manchester City has dropped four points in its last 12 matches

Defending champions Manchester City don’t currently own the top spot in the Premier League standings, but Pep Guardiola just needs one slip, one stumble, one opening by Liverpool to take control. In order to do so, City needs to take care of business.

The next bit of business is a home date with Brighton & Hove Albion Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ WATCH LIVE: Manchester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion ]

Manchester City has rattled off three straight wins by a combined 10-1 score since drawing with Wolves back in late August. Guardiola is still missing Kevin De Bruyne, but the Belgian will return to training soon and is expected to return to the lineup in the near future. Benjamin Mendy, Eliaquim Mangala and Claudio Bravo are all still missing, but otherwise Manchester City is at full strength.

Meanwhile, Brighton sits in the crowded bottom half of the standings and has just one win on the season, earning just two points over its last four matches. The Seagulls are missing playmaker Pascal Gross who suffered an ankle injury against Fulham, plus Dale Stephens who came off midway through Saturday’s loss to Tottenham with a hamstring injury.

Each of Brighton’s last five matches have been either draws or decided by one goal. Before this past weekend’s 2-1 loss, Brighton had staged a pair of late, two-goal comebacks.

What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Brighton: “It’s a really good side, a good manager and they were together for a long time. They know exactly what they have to do. They are really well organized. It will be a really tough game, but we know that and we will try to do a good game.”

Brighton manager Chris Hughton on playing Manchester City: “Along with playing Liverpool away, I would say that this is the toughest game. We did okay in the Liverpool one and might’ve got a result there, so you always have to be positive going into games like this. No-one expects us to get anything from it, so that’s normal and that pressure is taken off, but we want to do as well as we can.”

Prediction

Brighton has put in a few very good performances and look a formidable opponent for anybody in the Premier League, but their defensive frailties have cost them numerous points over the last few games, and that will prove deadly against Manchester City. A few mistakes will turn into a multi-goal deficit, and this isn’t a team you can exploit late in games for a messy comeback. Pep Guardiola will earn a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Ranking impact of each Man City player in title success

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Manchester City won the Premier League title on Sunday after West Bromwich Albion beat their crosstown rivals Manchester United to hand City the title without kicking a ball.

[ MORE: Full reaction to Man City’s title win ]

With five games of the season still to go, they have equaled the earliest title win in English top-flight history and Pep Guardiola‘s men are on course to break records for most wins in a season, most goals scored and the highest number of points in a single PL campaign.

But which players have been most responsible for their success this season?

Here’s a mark out of 10 for the impact each player in Man City’s squad have had in their title-winning season.


Ederson – 10 – Elevated himself to the conversation as the best goalkeeper on the planet. Not only is he wonderful with his feet, he also provides City’s entire defensive unit with extra confidence.

Claudio Bravo – 4 – Made just one PL appearance so far but was in the team that won the League Cup and his experience will have helped Ederson have a fine season.

Danilo – 7 – A decent stand in at either left back or right back. The Brazilian filed in whenever needed and did a steady job. Fine goal at Burnley.

Kyle Walker – 9 – One of the main reasons City won the title. Walker’s $75 million arrival from Tottenham was scoffed at due to the huge price tag but he added pace and power going forward and he has excelled defensively as well as improving with the ball at his feet and moving inside.

Nicolas Otamendi – 8 – Much improved this season and likely to be in the PFA Team of the Year. A few shaky displays here and there but this was by far, by far, his best season in a City shirt. Dangerous from set pieces with five goals.

Vincent Kompany – 9 – Stunning season from Kompany. The captain for all three of City’s PL titles was finally back to full fitness after a nightmare stretch and he also came up big in the League Cup final, scoring to lead the way. Always led by example and this season he rescued his career after multiple injuries.

John Stones – 6 – Stop-start would be the best way to sum it up. Plenty of injuries and a drop in form but still some promising displays. Guardiola bringing in Laporte will be a worrying sign for Stones.

Eliaquim Mangala – 4 – Loaned out to Everton in January after nine PL appearances but some shaky displays before his season-ending injury. Unlikely to be at City beyond this season.

Fabian Delph – 7 – Stood in admirably at left back for the injured Benjamin Mendy for most of the season and got back into the England squad. Calm on the ball and despite a few bad challenges and getting caught out of position, filled in at left back really well.

Aymeric Laporte – 6 – Only arrived in January but in his limited minutes City’s club-record signing showed he is a solid defender. Much better at center back than left back and will probably play as one of a back three moving forward.

Benjamin Mendy – 5 – Really tough for him to get injured so early after some incredible displays from left back. His #SharkTeam moments made sure he remained in the headlines (plus got him a higher rating) and he seems to be at the heart of City’s locker room. Mendy is almost back and will be the best left back on the planet very soon.

Oleksandr Zinchenko – 5 – Did fine when called upon, which wasn’t often, but Pep used him more as a left back than an attacking midfielder.

Fernandinho – 8 – The Brazilian’s season was a fine one as he put aside injuries and suspensions to become a guaranteed starter. His defensive work went unnoticed but there’s a reason why Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva were so good. Fernandinho did a lot of their dirty work.

Kevin de Bruyne – 10 – Simply stunning, especially in the opening months of the season in his new deeper role in central midfield. Leads PL with 20 assists and has scored 11 goals so far. Some of his assists, passes and crosses were out of this world. KDB will fight with Mohamed Salah to win all of the player of the year awards in the PL.

David Silva – 10 – Like KDB, his passing, movement and creativity was sublime and Silva was reinvented as a deeper central midfielder. Like a fine wine, Silva is getting better each season and he is working with a manager who truly understands him. Majestic. Nine goals and 11 assists.

Yaya Toure – 4 – Didn’t play a lot this season but was kept around for his influence behind-the-scenes. This will be his last season at City and this is the season when he has had the least impact, at least on the pitch.

Ilkay Gundogan – 7 – Struggled to get in the team week in, week out but when he did, he often made a difference with goals and assists. The German playmaker can sometimes get overrun in midfield but he oozes class on the ball.

Bernardo Silva – 7 – Some stunning goals later in the season after he settled in the PL and the Portuguese playmaker will surely take over from David Silva in the future in a more central role. Seven goals and 10 assists a very decent return.

Raheem Sterling – 9 – His best goalscoring run in his career with 22 goals and nine assists and he could have scored at least 10 more. Sterling has kept his pace and trickery but can now see a pass and in the opening months he scored plenty of clutch late winning goals. A superb season.

Leroy Sane – 9 – Like Sterling, the winger matured this season with both nominated for the PFA Players’ Young Player of the Year award and Sane also nominated for the main POTY gong. The German winger has wonderful balance and his direct running scares the life out of defenders. Star for the future.

Phil Foden – 5 – Only played in a handful of games and he will be disappointed to have been injured just when he was breaking into the team on a regular basis. The time will come for the “Stockport Iniesta” to shine (he’s still just 17) as Pep has high hopes for the academy graduate who led England’s U-17 side to glory during the season.

Brahim Diaz – 3 – Like Foden, used mostly in the cup competitions but showed plenty of promise. Will surely get minutes in the remaining games of the season.

Gabriel Jesus – 8 – Scored 14 goals and added three assists as the young Brazilian battled back from a knee injury around the turn of the year. He’s shown he can step in for Aguero long-term and will only get better.

Sergio Aguero – 9 – Was benched at times this season but broke Man City’s scoring record and definitely adapted his style to Guardiola’s philosophy of high-pressing from the front. 30 goals and seven assists in all competitions says it all.