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Guardiola defends not starting healthy De Bruyne

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There are a few manners of losing for a manager, and one is when an in-form and up-for-it squad completely overruns yours.

For a managerial wizard like Pep Guardiola, that kind of loss is probably easier to take than Man City’s 1-0 loss to Spurs in Tuesday’s first leg of a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

[ MORE: Match recap | Kane hurt | 3 things ]

That’s because Guardiola’s lineups and tactical decisions backfired against a stingy and determined Spurs back line and midfield.

Riyad Mahrez started in place of injured Bernardo and over Leroy Sane . The former Leicester City maestro was poor. Kevin De Bruyne was left out of the XI and Guardiola stubbornly waited until the 89th minute to introduce the Belgian (and Sane).

By that time, with Harry Kane injured and Spurs still finding an opener, the plot was lost.

And with City in a left back injury crisis, Fabian Delph was unable to replicate his left back form of last season, coming in from the cold and looking like it. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I saw him really well in the last few days,” Guardiola said. “After four or five months being injured, two games in four days for Mendy was too much. Bernardo could not play so we played Riyad and he played good especially in the second half when he had someone close to him because in the first half it was not easy for him.”

Guardiola explained the choice to not use De Bruyne, one of the best playmakers in the world, by insisting the player is healthy.

“I decided to play with two holding midfielders in that position, Gundogan and Fernandinho, to be a bit more solid. It’s not the issue. I know it’s tough for him but we have the second leg. We spoke about that. It’s 180 minutes.”

To be fair to Guardiola, a good tactical idea can fail if the players don’t perform well. Maybe Gundogan and Mahrez on their average day meet Aguero converting his penalty and Man City wins 3-1. It’s not like they were completely played out of the stadium.

Guardiola didn’t seem too bothered by the performance, though we have to imagine the room will hear another story. Whether you believe in motivation or momentum or whatever at this stage, there was something about this match that made loose balls and tackles appeal a bit more to Spurs than City. The Tottenham men took their bodies to Man City and the reigning Premier League champions couldn’t adjust to the demands in time to score an away goal.

And like that, Man City is 90 minutes away from looking a lot like Paris Saint-Germain: League monsters — albeit in a better league — that find a way to fail in the latter stages of the one trophy it wants more than the others.

Sane, Gundogan allegedly racially abused on Germany duty

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Three men have turned themselves in to authorities following allegations that they racially abused Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan while the Manchester City duo was on international duty in Germany.

[ MORE: Report: Man United stars lined up for exit ]

The phrases “Negro” and “Turk” were allegedly shouted at Sane, who is black, and Gundogan, who was born (in Germany) to Turkish parents, during Germany’s 1-1 draw with Serbia in Wolfsburg. “Heil Hitler” is also alleged to have been used, according to a report from a German publication.

The abuse lobbed at Sane and Gundogan was “constant” from a certain sect of the crowd in attendance, according to a statement from the German federation immediately after the game.

[ MORE: Sane escapes serious injury despite “vicious foul” ]

“The DFB condemns the racist incident in the international match against Serbia on Wednesday in Wolfsburg in the strongest terms. During the match at the Volkswagen Arena, national team players Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan were constantly insulted by a small group of spectators.

“Thanks to the support of a fan, the DFB was able to locate the ticket buyer for the seats where the spectators were sitting. The police have been turned on and are now investigating.”

Manchester City destroy Chelsea (video)

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  • Aguero earns two league records via another hat trick
  • Sterling scores two
  • Chelsea sinks 6th, below Arsenal

Sergio Aguero wrote his name twice more in the record books as Manchester City smashed Chelsea 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Aguero scored a hat trick for the second week in-a-row, joining Alan Shearer as the only players to register 11 Premier League hat tricks. He also went atop the Man City leaderboard for league goals.

Other guys played, too, with Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan scoring while Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva put on playmaking and possession master classes.

City goes back atop the Premier League table on goal differential, now nine better than Liverpool having played one more game. Chelsea drops below fifth place Arsenal on goals scored, the goal differential level.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

City’s habit of striking quickly continued with a 4th minute goal off the boot of Sterling.

Left all alone at the back post to collect a David Luiz-deflected cross from Bernardo Silva, Sterling hammered the ball into a gaping space.

Aguero also worked himself into a back post position and skewered his chance to tap in Bernardo’s unreal dribble and pass through the six.

Eden Hazard work Chelsea up in the 12th minute with a long dribble down the left producing a shot that Kepa Arrizabalaga collected wide of the post.

Maybe the tap-in was too easy, because Aguero then took a Kevin De Bruyne feed and curled a 20-yard beauty around a flying Arrizabalaga.

Aguero helped produce the fourth, his dribble blocked by Antonio Rudiger onto the path of Gundogan for another long distance goal.

Ederson made a second decent save of the half when Gonzalo Higuain tore into a shot from distance, but Chelsea did not pull any goals back before halftime.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Aguero nearly nodded home for his hat trick when his header of a De Bruyne cross hit the cross bar.

Mike Dean pointed to the spot after Cesar Azpilicueta took down Sterling in the 55th minute, and Aguero had his chance for back-to-back hat tricks and a share of the Premier League hat trick record.

De Bruyne sent an arrow of a free kick around the wall, but Arrizabalaga stopped it.

Substitute Gabriel Jesus was shoved by Luiz as he attempted a 1v1 shot on Arrizabalaga, but Dean stopped short of awarding another penalty.

Sterling got his second in a similar enough fashion to his first. It was 6-0 with 10 minutes to play.

Foden, Gundogan star for seven-goal Man City

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Manchester City rolled past Rotherham United 7-0 in the FA Cup on Sunday, with Ilkay Gundogan starring and Phil Foden scoring his second senior goal.

A trip to the Etihad Stadium was always going to be a tall ask for the Championship side, and Pep Guardiola‘s inclusion of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling in the Starting XI didn’t help the Millers.

[ REPORT: Mourinho turns down job ]

De Bruyne cued Sterling up for the first goal of the game, while Foden, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi, Leroy Sane, and a Rotherham own goal also dotted the score sheet.

Gundogan was the playmaker for four of City’s seven goals, while Sterling also picked up an assist.

Foden’s goal was his first senior goal for City, and it must’ve seemed to him like it took ages for the ball to cross the line considering it took a relatively long time anyway.

The own goal followed, making it 3-0 into halftime.

City out-attempted the Millers 23-1, though that one shot did go on target (Silver lining alert?).

Gundogan set up Foden’s goal, and was provider for the final three goals of the match as well.

It’s no surprise to hear that Foden is definitely sticking around the Etihad Stadium.

Here are all the markers via the FA Cup’s Twitter feed:

Man City shocked at home by Crystal Palace

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  • Gundogan gives City lead
  • Townsend scores beauty (video)
  • Milivojevic wins it from spot

Jeffrey Schlupp, Andros Townsend, and Luka Milivojevic scored as Crystal Palace built a two-goal lead and held on to beat Manchester City 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne scored for City, who led 1-0 and now sits four points back of leaders Liverpool heading into Christmas.

Palace moves 14th with 18 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Man City was in firm control, almost from moment No. 1. Nicolas Otamendi came close to scoring early, and Leroy Sane blasted into the outside of the net in the 11th minute.

The air of inevitability was proven correct by Gundogan, who ran onto a Fabian Delph cross to head into the corner for 1-0 in the 27th minute.

Palace equalized out of nothing, with James McArthur feeding Schlupp outside the box. Schlupp was given some room to shoot by Kyle Walker, and worked left before finishing right. 1-1, 33′.

That’s when Palace made it 2-1 with a Goal of the Season contender, with Townsend tearing into a looping clearance with perfect technique. The frozen rope beat Ederson to his left.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Walker’s bad day got worse when he chopped down Max Meyer in the box to give Palace a chance for 3-1, which Milivojevic converted to the left of Ederson with a near-perfect take.

Gundogan smashed a 69th minute effort wide of frame from distance, as Palace packed the box and dared City to find a way into the danger areas.

Sane hammered a free kick off the bar in the 76th.

City made it 3-2 in the 85th through De Bruyne, who curled a beautiful ball over Wayne Hennessey from a wild distance. If it was almost anyone else, you’d have called it a mishit cross.