Javi Garcia

Zenit St. Petersburg set to relieve Manchester City of Javi García

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Javi García has been a useful piece at Manchester City, starting 31 Premier League games over the last two years, but the former Benfica midfielder has never lived up to his price tag. Purchased for $25 million in Aug. 2012, the Spaniard was part of Roberto Mancini’s quest to revamp his title-winning squad. Though he continued to provide valuable depth under Manuel Pellegrini, Yaya Touré and Fernandinho sat above him in the pecking order.

With the summer purchase of Fernando from Porto, there’s no room for García in Manchester, particularly given the $7.3 million per year the Financial Fair Play target’s paying the 27-year-old. Thankfully for City, another big spender is willing to step in and take on the burden, with Zenit St. Petersburg scheduled to announce the Spaniard’s acquisition on Thursday.

From The Guardian:

The Spaniard’s transfer is for a fee of [$20.1 million] plus a further [$1.3 million] in add-ons, with García having fallen even further behind in the thinking of Manuel Pellegrini …

While Andre Villas-Boas, the Zenit coach, views García an automatic choice as one of seven overseas players allowed to start league games under Russian football federation rules, if the 27-year-old does depart that would still leave City with 17 non-homegrown players following the arrival of France international [Eliaquim] Mangala.

With Zenit off to a 2-0-0 start in Russia, outscoring opponents by 11 in the process, it’s unclear how much the team needs García, though playing alongside Belgian international Axel Witsel, the team’s newest addition will help form one of Russia’s best midfields. Whether he’s worth the cost, however, is more debatable.

As it concerns Manchester City, the move provides some relief, allowing City to recoup nearly all of its original transfer fee while moving a $7.3 million salary commitment off its books.

García may not have lived up to Mancini’s hopes, but after two years at Eastlands, his value hadn’t diminished that much.

Everton 2-3 Manchester City: Dzeko’s double sends City top (video)

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Manchester City beat Everton 3-2 at Goodison Park on Saturday as the Citizens took a huge step towards lifting the Premier League title with a nervy win.

Ross Barkley’s wondergoal put Everton ahead as the home side looked to be springing a shock in a slightly subdued atmosphere (an Everton win would hand the initiative in the PL title race to their fierce rivals Liverpool) at Goodison.

However City were soon level as Sergioo Aguero equalized, then Edin Dzeko headed home just before half time to put City 2-1 up at the break. Moments after the interval Dzeko bagged another as City looked to be cruising but Romelu Lukaku’s powerful header midway through the second half made it a nervy finish for City.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men held on and are top of the PL standings on 80 points with Liverpool and Chelsea still to play this weekend. City, crucially, have a game in hand over their title rivals as they host Aston Villa on Wednesday before the face West Ham on the final day of the season. If they win their final two games, City win the league regardless of what Liverpool or Chelsea do, due to their vastly superior goal difference. As for Everton, their top four challenge is now officially as Roberto Martinez’s men will finish fifth.

MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Early on Everton started well and in the fifth minute they engineered a move down their left flank which found Steven Naismith but he dragged his shot wide of the post, then at the other end Javi Garcia rose highest but headed straight at Tim Howard as City felt their way into the game. After 10 minutes Everton were ahead through Barkley’s moment of individual brilliance. The youngster latched onto a layoff from Naismith and curled a stunning strike into the far corner as Joe Hart’s despairing dive got nowhere near Barkley’s effort. Everton had thrown a spanner in the works of City’s title charge.

However in the 22nd minute Aguero broke free and smashed home at the near post past Tim Howard to make it 1-1 midway through the first half as City didn’t take long to hit back. Although Aguero didn’t last much longer as the Argentine forward limped off after hurting himself in the process of scoring the goal. City pushed to go ahead before the break as Yaya Toure surged into the box but his cross was cleared by Everton skipper Phil Jagielka. It was all City for the remaining moments of the first half and Dzeko headed home in the 43rd minute to turn the game on its head and give City a 2-1 lead at the break.

Following the interval Everton almost drew level within seconds of the restart as yet another surging Barkley run from midfield played in Naismith who curled his shot towards the bottom corner but Hart made a crucial fingertip save to preserve City’s one-goal advantage. That saved looked even more pivotal soon after as City went 3-1 ahead in the 48th minute. Samir Nasri sent his cross past John Stones on the left side of the box and Dzeko pounced to bag his second and City’s third of the match as the away side cruised at Goodison.

After that City took their foot off the gas and Everton had plenty of play in and around the box as the Citizens sat back. Eventually that pressure paid off for the home side as Leighton Baines was allowed to tee the ball up and cross in an inch-perfect delivery which Lukaku headed in off the post with 25 minutes to go. Suddenly, much to City’s displeasure, it was game on at Goodison.

City edged towards the win as Everton controlled the closing stages, which included six minutes of stoppage time after Dzeko went down injured, but failed to break through and grab an all-important equalizer.

The Citizens did the job they need to do.

LINEUPS

Everton: Howard, Baines, Stones, Jagielka (Deulofeu, 66′), Alcaraz, Coleman, McCarthy, Osman (McGeady, 83′), Barkley, Naismith, Lukaku

Goals: Barkley (10′), Lukaku (65′)

Manchester City:Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Garcia, Toure (Kolarov, 68′), Milner, Nasri (Silva, 74′), Dzeko, Aguero (Fernandinho, 27′)

Goal: Aguero (22′), Dzeko (43′, 48′)

Watch Live: Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

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Crystal Palace could have a big hand in the title chase as the revived club host Manchester City at Selhurst Park at 11:10 on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

City will look to capitalize on any points dropped by Liverpool at Anfield today, and Manuel Pellegrini has gone for it today with both Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero in the lineup.

In the absence of Jesus Navas and David Silva due to injury, Pellegrini has gone much more direct, with Javi Garcia and Yaya Toure anchoring a midfield that will likely play through the middle up to the strike pair at the top.

Toure is a big start, as the Ivorian was a question mark heading into the fixture. He returns after a week out.

Samir Nasri and James Milner do play out wide, but will possibly be more support with heavy overlap from Zabaleta and Kolarov.

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Meanwhile, Palace has Marouane Chamakh back in action up front after missing last week against West Ham through injury.  The Moroccan international starts next to Cameron Jerome, with Kagisho Dikgacoi also back from injury on the bench.

Palace will be hoping for shades of Chelsea when they all but derailed the Blues’ title chances, and they look to do the same to City.

Crystal Palace have won five straight matches in the Premier League, something they haven’t done in 22 years.

LINEUPS:

Crystal Palace – Speroni; Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie, Puncheon; Chamakh, Jerome.
Bench – Hennessey, Gabbidon, Parr, Dikgacoi, Ince, Gayle, Murray.

Manchester City – Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Milner, Garcia, Toure, Nasri; Dzeko, Aguero.
Bench – Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Clichy, Fernandinho, Jovetic, Negredo.

Premier League Preview: Manchester City v. West Brom

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  • West Bromwich Albion have taken just two points from six previous Premier League games at the Etihad Stadium
  • City have won only one of their last four Premier League games
  • City have conceded seven goals in their last four games after recording clean sheets in each of the five games before then

With Chelsea shock-losers to Sunderland on Saturday and Liverpool defeating Norwich City on Sunday to take a five point advantage in the Premier League, Manchester City will be hard-pressed to take care of West Brom on Monday evening.

If City’s title hopes took a ding in last weekend’s 3-2 loss to Liverpool, they took a full-blown dent when they drew 2-2 with Sunderland on Wednesday. The relegation-threatened Black Cats proved a formidable side to Manuel Pellegrini’s men, who should expect the same type of venom from the 16th placed Baggies.

On 33 points, West Brom sit just three points above 18th place Cardiff City and 19th place Fulham although Pepe Mel’s side does enjoy a game in hand on both clubs. Since their 0-2 loss to Hull City on March 22nd the Albion have gone undefeated in three straight matches, drawing 3-3 with Cardiff, beating Norwich City 1-0 and drawing 3-3 with Tottenham.

Despite West Brom’s poor status in the league they have managed to take points this season from each of the Top 7 – Everton (twice), Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea (twice), Liverpool and Tottenham (twice) – except City. It’s this Jekyll & Hyde kind of form that City will be weary of, especially considering the last time these two sides met the Citizens nearly threw away a 3-0 lead when the Baggies scored twice in the last five minutes.

If City are to take care of business they’ll have to do so without Yaya Toure (groin), David Silva (ankle) and Jesus Navas (ankle) while Matija Nastasic (knee) remains a long-term absentee. For the Baggies, Zoltan Gera (hamstring) is out but James Morrison (ankle) and Jonas Olsson (achilles) are likely to return.

What They’re Saying

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: “We have had an important amount of injuries during the whole season. I think it has not only been our team, though. We play so many games with a lot of intensity and maybe all the teams that play in all the competitions have a lot of injuries. But, of course, it is a problem.”

West Brom manager Pepe Mel: “It is impossible that West Brom will go down – it is not really even something we have been thinking about.”

Predictions

Picking City is the easy choice here but without Toure, Silva and Navas it won’t be a cakewalk for Pellegrini’s men. James Milner and Javi Garcia will have to step up but beware of this tricky West Brom side with it’s back against the wall. Nicking a point here wouldn’t surprise.

Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City: Reds seal dramatic win to stay top (video)

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LIVERPOOL — At an emotional Anfield on Sunday, Liverpool took a giant leap towards lifting their first league title in 24 years after they beat Manchester City 3-2 in a pulsating clash, winning 10-straight Premier League games.

The Reds raced into an early 2-0 lead thanks to Raheem Sterling’s cool finish and Martin Skrtel’s deft header, as the home fans were treated to a masterclass for most of the first half. However Man City weren’t out of it, as two goals in five second half minutes turned the match on its head.

First the hugely impressive David Silva slotted home from close range, then Silva and Samir Nasri combined to see the former’s cross deflect off Glen Johnson’s leg and into the net for the equalizer. City were in the ascendancy after that goal and it looked like there would only be one winner.

However an awful error from Man City’s captain Vincent Kompany, who horribly sliced a routine clearance, let in Philippe Coutinho to curl home the game-winner and send Liverpool’s fans delirious. It was a goal worthy of winning any game, as the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster was marked with a superb Liverpool win that puts them within touching distance of their first-ever PL title.

Liverpool is now seven points clear of City in top spot, though City have two games in hand, and is five points clear of Chelsea with four games to go.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

The game started at a rapid pace, as Luis Suarez was booked for a clumsy tackle on Martin Demichelis, as Liverpool took the lead with virtually the first attack of the game. Suarez wrestled off a City defender before slotting the ball perfectly into the run of Sterling, who kept his composure by taking the ball around Joe Hart and slotting into an empty net.

City were struggling to handle with Liverpool’s relentless earlier pressure and in the 15th minute the Reds almost doubled their lead. Sterling was set free down the right and his pinpoint cross found Daniel Sturridge in the box, but he flicked an effort goalwards that flew just wide of the far post. In the 18th minute Liverpool were handed a huge boost as City’s midfield man-mountain, Yaya Toure, was forced off after appearing to pull his groin following a shot from distance. The home fans sensed the importance of Toure’s withdrawal.

As the first half wore on City played their way into the game with Silva getting on the ball more and more in the final third. Yet just when City were coming back into things, Liverpool went 2-0 ahead. First Hart saved superbly from Steven Gerrard’s header six-yards out, as somehow the England international tipped the ball over, then from the resulting corner Skrtel flicked home Gerrard’s set piece to extend the home side’s lead.

source: AP
Coutinho was the game-winner, as Liverpool saw off City in an emotional encounter.

Soon after yet another innovative Liverpool attack tore City apart, but Kompany got a toe on Sturridge’s clever pass just as Suarez was preparing to finish. Liverpool were slack in possession on a few occasions in front of the back four, with Edin Dzeko being let clean through after a mix up but captain Gerrard arrived in the nick of time to knock the ball out for corner. City tried to get a goal back before the interval as Kompany’s header was hacked off the line and then Simon Mignolet saved superbly from Fernandinho’s vicious volley, as an emotionally charged and hugely eventful first half at Anfield came to a close.

In the second half Liverpool started brightly but a real moment of controversy arrived in the 50th minute as Suarez took a tumble on the edge of the box and replays showed it wad a clear case of simulation. The Liverpool forward was lucky to still be on the pitch after he was booked in the first half.

City settled into the second half well, as James Milner came onto the pitch and made an instant impact. The right winger latched onto a through ball and played in Silva to slot home in the 57th minute to give City hope. Two minutes later the away side poured forward and Silva’s cross flashed through the six-yard box but evaded Dzeko’s lunge. However the away side didn’t need to wait long to draw level, as Silva and Sami Nasri combined to see Silva’s cross deflect off Johnson and into the net to make it 2-2 with less than 30 minutes to go. Sturridge was forced off with an injury in the aftermath, as the Reds were rocking.

Sergio Aguero arrived off the bench for the final 25 minutes, as Man City’s top scorer joined the fray knowing one-goal could see his side take a massive step towards their second PL title. Aguero squirmed clear of Skrtel in the 76th minute and the Argentine played in the onrushing Silva, but his toe poke rolled agonizingly wide as City came close to taking the lead for the first time in the match.

They were made to pay for that miss as Kompany scuffed a clearance straight to Coutinho, who curled in a first-time effort to bag all three points for the Reds. A late red card for Jordan Henderson piled on the pressure, but Liverpool held on to seal a big win in their quest for the title.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan, Sakho, Skrtel, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho (Moses, 89′), Sterling (Lucas, 90′), Suarez, Sturridge (Allen, 66′)

Goals: (Sterling, 6′), Skrtel (25′), Coutinho (78′)

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Toure (Javi Garcia, 18′), Fernandinho, Navas (Milner, 50′), Nasri, Silva, Dzeko (Aguero, 68′)

Goals: Silva (57′), Glen Johnson, own goal (62′)