Wilfried Bony

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Man City unnerved by early-season draw

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Manchester City’s dominant run in 2017/18 guided the club to one of the most comprehensive Premier League-winning seasons in the history of English football.

[ MORE: Wolves impress, hold champions Man City to draw ]

The club’s step towards another PL crown got off to a strong start in the opening two weeks of this campaign, however, the Citizens struggled in their third fixture of the season, which saw manager Pep Guardiola and Co. drop points to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The 1-1 draw represents the first piece of adversity that City has had to endure domestically in quite some time, after dropping points in just five league matches last season (3D, 2 L).

City, who conceded to Wolves on a questionable header/hand ball, don’t appear worried though about the result.

“It was a good game,” Guardiola said following the match. “We conceded too many counter-attacks. We missed simple passes. We created enough chances to win the game but it is a good point.

“We play at the same level as we did last season. People can imagine how difficult it is to play against a good team with nine players behind. We tried but we will improve because defensively we were not solid like we normally are.

“Every game we play, we learn for the next one.”

Noticeable claims for handball went unnoticed during Wilfried Bony‘s opener for Wolves, bringing about talks of when the PL will implement VAR into its league.

However, Guardiola wasn’t focused on the referee’s non-decision.

“It is none of my business,” Guardiola said. “The Premier League will decide when they decide that VAR will be here. I make a compliment for the referee’s job and that is all.”

Last season, the Citizens went 22 matches unbeaten to start their title-winning campaign, so 2018/19 presents a new challenge for the club.

City defender Kyle Walker echoed similar sentiments to his manager following the draw, despite Bony’s questionable goal.

“It is hard for the referees to see everything,” Walker said. “We should have equalized at the end. We need to go again and hopefully we can get three points next week.”

Yaya Toure makes wild racial claims about Pep Guardiola

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Yaya Toure is proffering some audacious claims about ex-manager Pep Guardiola, claiming a need to “break the myth” of the Manchester City architect while essentially decrying him as racist against Africans.

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The BBC contacted Man City, which declined comment. That seems smart given Toure’s combustible reputation and knack for living on the lunatic fringe.

While claims of racial inequity in football need to be carefully examined, this one seems a head-scratcher at first blush. Guardiola re-signed Toure to a one-year deal after the 2016-17 season despite being a headache for Pep during the boss’ first season, and really across two clubs.

In his career, Guardiola has managed African players like Toure (Ivory Coast), and signed Seydou Keita to Barcelona (Mali) and Mehdi Benatia (Morocco) to Bayern Munich. He’s linked with Riyad Mahrez (Algeria) again this summer, and has sold Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast) and Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria).

This, of course, is without mentioning the myriad players of African descent who’ve thrived under the Catalan boss.

Guardiola butted heads with Toure at both Barca, selling him, and Man City, suspending him, but it all seemed to come together this season for the pair. Toure even had his name put on one of the club’s training fields.

And Yaya, like a man flicking a lighter, has set it ablaze again , and not like a birthday candle. Why did it not come off well with Pep and Yaya in stint No. 2 at City? From the BBC’s translation of Toure’s France Football interview.

“I do not know why but I have the impression that he was jealous, he took me for a rival. As if I made him a little shade.

“He was cruel to me. I came to wonder if it was not because of my colour. I am not the first to talk about these differences in treatment. In Barca, some have also asked the question. When we realize he often has problems with Africans wherever he goes, I ask myself questions.

“I want to be the one who breaks the myth of Guardiola.”

And again, comments like these are a concern in most cases, but Toure is a pretty unique case with a penchant for making controversy. Whether cake-related or other.

PL Sunday preview: Man City’s title trot; Wenger’s farewell tour

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Manchester City will play as the confirmed champions of the Premier League, though they won’t celebrate as such for a couple more weeks, on Sunday. Meanwhile, the only manager Arsenal have known for more than two decades begins saying goodbye

[ MORE: Man United come back to beat Spurs, reach FA Cup final ]

Arsenal vs. West Ham United — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

So begins the Arsene Wenger farewell tour, and with a London derby at that. Wenger announced on Friday that he’ll leave Arsenal at the end of the current season, which has little to no chance of seeing the Gunners finish in the PL’s top-five, let alone the top-four. Sunday’s clash with West Ham will be the first of Wenger’s three remaining games at the Emirates Stadium, including the Europa League semifinal against Atletico Madrid on Thursday. Unfortunately for Wenger, three of his final five PL games (four of seven in all competitions) will be played away from home, where his side has lost five straight in league play.

Speaking of lost and wayward seasons, 14th-place West Ham are almost mathematically clear of relegation (there’s currently three places and six points between themselves and 18th-place Southampton). It’s hardly the future they imagined upon moving to the London Stadium at the start of last season. Andy Carroll scored the late equalizer in the Hammers’ 1-1 draw with Stoke City on Monday, which rescued perhaps a perfectly timed point with all five remaining games to be played against sides currently in the top-nine (Arsenal, Man City, Leicester, Man United and Everton).

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (knee), Santi Cazorla (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Jack Wilshere (ankle) | West Ham — OUT: James Collins (hamstring), Sam Byram (ankle), Winston Reid (knee), Michail Antonio (hamstring), Pedro Obiang (knee)


Stoke City vs. Burnley — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Here’s what’s at stake at the bet365 Stadium on Sunday:

Stoke sit two places and five points adrift of safety from relegation, with four games left to play (17th-place Swansea City have a game in hand, to boot). After 10 seasons in the PL, it’s looking more and more likely that Paul Lambert (with a tip of the cap to Mark Hughes earlier in the season) will take the Potters back to the Championship for the first time since they won promotion in 2008.

Burnley trail Arsenal by just two points (though the Clarets have played one more game than the Gunners) in the race for sixth place. A sixth-place finish would be the club’s highest top-flight finish since 1966 (3rd).

INJURIES: Stoke — QUESTIONABLE: Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (groin) | Burnley — OUT: Steven Defour (knee), Scott Arfield (calf), Robbie Brady (knee), Jonathan Walters (fitness); QUESTIONABLE: Ben Mee (knock), Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (hamstring)


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

While Man City won’t lift the PL trophy until their May 6 clash with Huddersfield Town, Sunday’s visit from Swansea will be Pep Guardiola‘s side’s first outing since clinching the title courtesy of Man United’s defeat to West Bromwich Albion last weekend. Guardiola’s focus has turned to breaking the all-time PL points record (95 — they currently have 87 with five games still to play).

“In the past, I won the league at Bayern and at Barca with five, six or seven games (left) but the next games were not good,” he said this week. “We have to think about how many points we can get, it can be a good argument. What we need to do is already done, the points record is not the most important thing, but maybe it can help us to be focused. It would be uncomfortable to finish in a bad way, there always has to be a target and maybe scoring the most goals and winning the most points will be a good focus.”

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Sergio Aguero (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee); QUESTIONABLE: John Stones (thigh) | Swansea — OUT: Wilfried Bony (knee), Leroy Fer (achilles), Renato Sanches (hamstring)

FA Cup preview: Huddersfield, Swansea set for replays

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Huddersfield Town and Swansea City will try again for a spot in the FA Cup 5th round as they have another shot after draws their last time out.

First, David Wagner‘s crew takes a five match winless run into St. Andrews as they visit Birmingham City after a 1-1 draw. Their Championship opponents might be in 19th place in the table, but they are in good form, having moved further off the bottom of the table in recent weeks.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

Lukasz Jutkiewicz has lost his starting spot in Championship play, but he scored on the Terriers in the first meeting between these two clubs and could be given another shot. The early portion of the match could be critical, as Huddersfield has trailed eight times at the halftime break this season, and earned just a single draw from those games.

Elsewhere, Swansea City hosts League Two side Notts County as the Swans look to build on their good form, without a loss since January 2nd. The Swans have gone to a replay now in two straight FA Cup rounds, after being held their first time out against Wolverhampton before winning the second go around at home.

Notts County came into their meeting with Swansea in poor form, having lost two in a row, but they earned the 1-1 draw to force a replay, and then came back and clobbered Crewe Alexandria 4-1 in their subsequent league meeting. Swansea will be without Wilfried Bony and Leroy Fer who both suffered long-term injuries in the past week.

when one swan falls, another swan begins to fly,” said manager Carlos Carvalhal. “We are disappointed because Fer was doing very well and Bony was fighting hard every day to get to his best level. We wish we had them available, but we have players to cover the situation in the time that they are not here.”

They are also missing young loanee Renato Sanches who is out a month with hamstring injury. That makes three players who started the 1-1 draw with Notts who will be absent for the second go. In addition, new arrivals Andre Ayew and Andy King are both cup-tied and cannot be selected.

Finally, League One basement-dwellers Rochdale host Championship side Millwall in a replay after the two played to an exciting 2-2 draw that saw Millwall equalize in the 90th minute to force a replay.

Swansea City loses pair for rest of the season

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A pair of Swansea City players have suffered serious injuries and will miss the remainder of the season.

Striker Wilfried Bony and midfielder Leroy Fer will not feature the rest of the way as Swans attempt to stay clear of the drop zone.

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Bony has torn his ACL, while Fer has ruptured his achilles. Both will require surgery.

In Bony’s case, Swansea says he suffered the injury early in his 19 minute substitute appearance Saturday but played through it.

Swans did buy striker Andre Ayew from West Ham in the transfer window, though they let Oliver McBurnie take a loan to Barnsley.

Fer had played 20 league matches with a goal and an assist for Swans, while Bony has played 14 PL matches with a pair of goals.