Muhamed Besic

Photo by Tim Goode/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Super sub Aguero saves Man City at Sheffield United

Leave a comment

Chris Wilder almost orchestrated another beautiful point Sheffield United, only to see Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero combine to produce a 1-0 win for Manchester City at Bramall Lane on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

City moves 13 points back of Liverpool, who have two matches-in-hand, while the host Blades are seventh with 33 points.

Man City out-attempted the Blades by an 18-4 margin, produced three big chances to United’s one.


Three things we learned

1. Aguero rescues win and improves Golden Boot credentials: The Argentine might turn 32 in June, but is showing no signs of slowing down. Sure his run and back post tap-in weren’t the most scintillating of his goals, but he’s onto 16 league goals. That’s one shy of Jamie Vardy‘s league lead, and right now you’d bet on him to snare a second Premier League Golden Boot.

2. Henderson aided by VAR: Gabriel Jesus‘ penalty was abject, but it certainly helped Dean Henderson that he was off his line early in the run-up to save. Video Assistant Referee somehow missed the offense, or there’s an explanation beyond our understanding. Pep Guardiola sure is livid.

3. De Bruyne continues record pursuit: Man City’s playmaker assisted Aguero’s goal was a terrific cross to give him 15 league assists this season. He needs six in the final 14 league outings of the season to break Thierry Henry’s Premier League record of 20.

Man of the Match: We’ll give it to Aymeric Laporte, whose fifth appearance of the league season was his first since Aug. 31. The long injury absence stung City deeply; With Laporte on the pitch, City improves to 4W-1D with three clean sheets.


Fernandinho cut out an early Blades challenge, and the next notable moment came as Muhamed Besic bladed the newly-returned Aymeric Laporte to only a yellow card.

Raheem Sterling stole a ball off Chris Basham and led a charge that led to a fine Dean Henderson save in the 20th.

Riyad Mahrez won a straight-forward penalty when Basham chopped him down in the 35th minute, Henderson bailing him out with a save on Gabriel Jesus’ tepid attempt.

Henderson was off his line, but VAR did not have a look.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Jesus nodded a shot to Henderson in the 62nd, the Blades’ Lys Mousset then nearly backheeling an opener on the ensuing bit of possession.

Aguero was given a rest to start the game, but Guardiola plugged him into the match and got an equalizer when John Egan couldn’t reach a terrific De Bruyne cross.

Man City battle past Sheffield United

Leave a comment

Manchester City rode their luck to beat Sheffield United 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Second half goals from Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne led City to victory as the Blades were unlucky throughout with a tight offside VAR call going against them, the referee pretty much grabbed an assist on City’s opener and they hit the woodwork and missed several glorious chances.

With the win Man City move to within one point of second place Leicester City but are 14 points behind leaders Liverpool who also have a game in hand on them. Sheffield United are in eighth place on 29 points, six points off the top four.


3 things we learned

1. Unlucky Blades finally lose away: The almost went halfway through the season unbeaten away from home. What a season the Blades are having and they were so unlucky to lose this. Lys Mousset‘s first half goal was ruled out, just, by VAR for offside and City’s opener arrived in incredibly unlucky fashion as the ball hit referee Chris Kavanagh. City had the extra quality but Sheffield United gave them an almighty scare as Billy Sharp hitting the inside of the post with a header in stoppage time summed up their luck.

2. City react positively: Following their brave display away at Wolves, which saw them play with 10 men for over 80 minutes but blow a 2-0 lead late on thanks to some terrible defending, it took a lot of guts for City’s players to stand tall and go again less then 48 hours later. Guardiola brought in Garcia and Zinchenko to the lineup, with Bravo also replacing the suspended Ederson, and they didn’t look too comfortable defensively. City should be applauded for picking themselves up and even though they are 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, they have shown they will keep battling away.

3. De Bruyne on a different planet: He set up Aguero for the opener, scored a sublime goal of his own late on, was running around everywhere and even if Man City don’t pull of a miraculous comeback to win the title this season, the main positive will be that KDB is back to his best. De Bruyne has remained fit for most of this season and City are a totally different team when he’s firing on all cylinders.

Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne –


The first big chance of the game arrived for Sheffield United as Mousset nodded wide under pressure from Zinchenko, who put his boot up high.

Riyad Mahrez was played in by Rodri but his shot was deflected wide at the near post as Man City clicked through the gears in the first half.

Mousset looked to have given Sheffield United the lead after John Fleck‘s superb through ball but after he smashed home VAR intervened to rule out the goal for a marginal offside on the Blades striker.

John Egan headed over the bar as the Blades continued to look dangerous with Mousset again going close on the break, while at the other end Dean Henderson kept out Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva at the near post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Aguero dinked an effort just over at one end, then Muhamed Besic smashed just wide at the other as the game opened up.

Huge controversy then arrived as Man City took the lead. Sheffield United tried to play the ball into midfield but referee Chris Kavanagh was in the way and although the ball didn’t touch him, he caused a turnover which led to De Bruyne setting up Aguero to slam home. There was nothing the referee could do as the Blades were incredible hard done by.

De Bruyne whipped a free kick over the bar late on and although Sheffield United continued to threaten on the break, City doubled their lead  as KDB combined with Mahrez and whipped home a shot at the near post to grab all three points.

PL Sunday preview: North London derby; clarity for the top-four?

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images & Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s Super Sunday, and then there’s this Sunday, when six of the top seven sides in the Premier League will be in action…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Manchester United vs. Swansea City — 7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Injury crisis — noun: see, also: United, Manchester

With five games to go in the PL season, and a top-four place very much within reach — as well as the Europa League trophy — Jose Mourinho is without a half-dozen players whom would have been considered automatic first-choice starters at the season’s start (see below). Fortunately for him, he’s got players like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan beyond anxious for additional playing time.

Following a 0-0 draw with Manchester City on Thursday, Man United have climbed to within two points of third-place Liverpool (with a game in hand), and control their own destiny as far as finishing in the top-four goes. Following three straight defeats to Swansea in 2014 and 2015, order has somewhat been restored with the Red Devils winning the last two meetings between the sides. As badly as United need three points to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the Swans need them more in their bid to stave off relegation from the PL (they currently sit three points back of 17th-place Hull City, with a better goal differential).

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee), Paul Pogba (leg), Marcos Rojo (knee), Juan Mata (groin), Marouane Fellaini (suspension), Chris Smalling (knee), Phil Jones (toe) | Swansea — OUT: Angel Rangel (foot), Nathan Dyer (achilles), Wayne Routledge (hernia)

Everton vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park, where they are winless in their last two visits (PL and FA Cup), looks to be Chelsea’s toughest remaining fixture as Antonio Conte‘s side seeks to lift the club’s fifth PL trophy (sixth in all eras). After a pair of losses in four games’ time saw their lead cut from 10 points to four, the Blues reasserted themselves as the team to beat with an FA Cup semifinal victory over Tottenham Hotspur, their last remaining challenger, and a convincing 4-2 victory over Southampton in league play on Tuesday.

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: Seamus Coleman (leg), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), James McCarthy (hamstring), Yannick Bolasie (knee), Muhamed Besic (fitness) | Chelsea — OUT: None

[ MORE: Sunderland officially relegated to Championship ]

Middlesbrough vs. Manchester City — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSports.com

Following that 0-0 draw in the Manchester derby, Man City remain fourth in the league table, a single point back of Liverpool (with a game in hand). Given the mathematics involved, their margin for error is greater than any of the three sides fighting for the final top Champions League places. With that said, a loss away to 19th-place Boro would be horrendous, season-defining result — one that would take their destiny out of their own hands and see them rely on results elsewhere to finish top-four in Pep Guardiola‘s first season.

INJURIES: Boro — OUT: Victor Valdes (ribs); QUESTIONABLE: Grant Leadbitter (hamstring) | Man City — OUT: John Stones (knock), Ilkay Gundogan (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Aguero (back), David Silva (ankle), Gabriel Jesus (fitness)

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

It was confirmed on Friday that Sunday’s North London derby would be the very last meeting between Tottenham and Arsenal ever played at White Hart Lane, as the 118-year-old stadium will be demolished this summer as construction on Spurs’ brand new, 61,000-seat stadium continues. As fate would have it, not only can Spurs round out the White Hart Lane era with another famous derby when at the Lane, but Sunday also offers Mauricio Pochettino‘s side the chance to do something the club has failed to do in each of the last 22 seasons: clinch a finish above Arsenal in the league table.

Everything is in Spurs’ favor, too, as they’ve won eight straight league games for just the third time in club history (the first time in the PL era), by a combined score of 23-4. Following back-to-back 4-0 wins, over Watford and Bournemouth, their title hopes were kept alive by a brilliant, late strike from Christian Eriksen on Wednesday at Selhurst Park. At the same time, Arsenal were fortunate to top Leicester City courtesy of a comical own goal scored by Robert Huth. If any of those things — stadium nostalgia, form, or current standing in the league (Spurs sit second, 14 points clear of the Gunners — mattered, we’d hand Spurs the three points now. But, this is still Spurs we’re talking about, and why would we ever skip out on the North London derby?

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Erik Lamela (hip), Harry Winks (ankle), Michel Vorm (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Danny Rose (knee)| Arsenal — OUT: Santi Cazorla (achilles), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh); QUESTIONABLE: Laurent Koscielny (knee)

PL Sunday preview: Sunderland-Man United; surging Foxes visit Everton

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dreams of a top-four finish are quickly slipping away from Manchester United, just as Premier League status has (finally) done for Sunderland; Everton reside in no man’s land, between the top-six miles clear of eighth place, while Leicester City have finally shaken their PL title hangover.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Sunderland vs. Manchester United — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The objective was clear: Jose Mourinho was expected to return Man United to the PL’s top-four in his first season at Old Trafford. Reality is equally clear, and harsh: with two games in hand, and a seven-point deficit to fourth-place Manchester City to overcome, the Red Devils need their points three at a time from here on out; no side in the PL has drawn more games this season (12 — tied with Middlesbrough). While Mourinho’s men are unbeaten in their last 20 league games, dating all the way back Oct. 29, they’ve won just half of those games, dropping a season-killing 20 points in the process.

Sunderland, on the other hand, have finally run out of lives. After escaping near certain relegation (doing so in stunning fashion each time) in each of the last four seasons, David Moyes will almost certainly (we think) take the Black Cats down to the Championship this summer. 10 points currently stand between last-place Sunderland and Hull City in 17th; even a win on Sunday wouldn’t move them off the bottom of the table. Sunderland have just one win in their last 13 PL games played. One potential silver lining: they did beat United at home last season.

INJURIES: Sunderland — OUT: Jan Kirchoff (knee), Paddy McNair (knee), Duncan Watmore (knee) | Man United — OUT: Juan Mata (groin), Chris Smalling (knee), Phil Jones (toe); QUESTIONABLE: Wayne Rooney (ankle), Ashley Young (knock)

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Spurs apply pressure, Chelsea unfazed ]

Everton vs. Leicester City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

From relegation-threatened defending champions, to totally clear of the drop zone and safely enjoying mid-table obscurity, all in six weeks’ time — the 2016-17 season has been an emotional roller coaster for Leicester. Harkening back to last season’s title-winning fairytale is Jamie Vardy‘s timely return to form, as the reigning Player of the Season has bagged five goals in his last five PL games to match his tally from his first 22 league appearances this season. After 25 games, the point at which Claudio Ranieri was fired, the Foxes sat 18th in the league table. Five straight wins have seen Craig Shakespeare’s side rise all the way up to 11th with a chance to climb into the top half on Sunday.

As for Everton, a derby defeat at the hands of Liverpool, followed by a 1-1 draw with Manchester United three days later, brought to a screeching halt all momentum created by a stretch of just one loss in 12 games (eight wins) from Boxing Day to St. Patrick’s Day. Romelu Lukaku (21 goals) remains top of the Golden Boot race, two clear of Harry Kane, though the big Belgian failed to find the back of the net in each of the last week’s disappointing results. Prior to last weekend, the 23-year-old had scored nine goals in five PL games.

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), James McCarthy (hamstring), Yannick Bolasie (knee), Muhamed Besic (knee); RETURNING: Morgan Schneiderlin (calf) | Leicester — OUT: Wes Morgan (back); QUESTIONABLE: Nampalys Mendy (ankle)

PL Sunday preview: Spurs host Everton; Man City visit Sunderland

Leave a comment

Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City need wins to strengthen their respective positions in the top-four race, while Everton are looking to keep their hopes of such a finish a live, and Sunderland are… well, just hoping to get off the bottom of the table.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Six games — that’s all that stands between Tottenham and an unbeaten season of home fixtures in the Premier League, a most delightful send-off in 118-year-old White Hart Lane’s final season. The last time Spurs lost a league game to Everton, it was December 2012, at Goodison Park (eight PL games unbeaten — three wins, five draws). Harry Kane bagged a hat trick — his third in nine games across all competitions — in Spurs’ demolition of Stoke City, and is now level with Alexis Sanchez (17 goals) in his bid for a second straight PL Golden Boot; Everton’s Romelu Lukaku completes a three-way tie atop the goalscoring charts.

Spurs would go six points clear of fifth-place Arsenal with a victory on Sunday, setting themselves up with a surely insurmountable advantage (as if we haven’t heard that before) heading into the season’s final 11 games. Everton, meanwhile, would move to just three points back of the Gunners with a win, and just two points back of Manchester United for sixth (having played one more game than each).

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Danny Rose (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Harry Kane (knock), Toby Aldeweireld (groin), Jan Vertonghen (hamstring) | Everton — OUT: Yannick Bolasie (knee), Muhamed Besic (knee)

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — As the kids would say, it was “lit” ]

Sunderland vs. Man City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

There existed a brief period — five whole days, as it may have been — where Sunderland looked to be on their way to yet another late-season miracle, staving off relegation from the PL in the process. A draw against Tottenham, followed by a 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace, and David Moyes‘ side look to be surging. But, back-to-back losses, to Southampton and Everton, by a combined score of 6-0, and the Black Cats are once again bottom of the league with high-flying Man City (three straight wins, by a combined score of 8-1) visiting the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

If the 2016-17 season turns out to be Sergio Aguero’s final one at the Etihad Stadium, he looks determined to go out in style. The Argentine superstar has scored twice and assisted once in each of City’s last two games (all competitions). “I have three months to give my best and, as I always said, in June it will be seen,” Aguero said, when asked about recent praise from his club and manager. “One thing is that the club officially says it and another thing is to tell me. My intention is to stay.”

INJURIES: Sunderland — OUT: Jack Rodwell (hamstring), Jan Kirchoff (knee), Victor Anichebe (knee), Paddy McNair (knee), Lee Cattermole (hip) | Man City — OUT: Gabriel Jesus (ankle), Vincent Kompany (knock), Ilkay Gundogan (knee)