John Stones

Man City wins third-straight League Cup
(Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Man City wins third-straight League Cup

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Manchester City won its third-straight League Cup trophy, outlasting a game challenge from Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: “Clinical” Foden reacts ]

It’s the eighth trophy of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City, as Rodri and Sergio Aguero scored in a 2-1 win. City’s seven league cups trail only Liverpool’s eight.

Mbwana Samatta pulled a goal back for Villa, who was denied extra time by a brilliant Claudio Bravo save. City had 70 percent of the ball and a 22-5 shots edge, but made a furious bid over the final few minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three things we learned

1. Another trophy for City, with new heroes: Winning silverware never gets old, and this one will feel especially nice given the tumultuous season at the Etihad Stadium and impending UEFA Champions League ban. Villa proving difficult to beat lent the occasion more intensity.

The names helping City to glory were mostly new to the trophy chase, or at least unusual to it. Rodri helped set up the first goal and scored the second. Phil Foden was an absolute menace. And Bravo made a tremendous late save to ensure the match didn’t go beyond 90 minutes.

2. Foden announces himself: It can be easy to tire of the “did the young English player play and how did he play?” storyline with Premier League, but this isn’t that: Phil Foden was electrifying in this one, recalling fellow spark plug Jack Grealish on the opposite sideline.

The kid was sensational, completing 90 percent of his passes including two key passes. He completed three of four dribbles, won 7 of 10 duels, and made an interception to go with two tackles. That says nothing of his ability to move the ball in tight spaces before finding a safe outlet. Wonderful from a kid who’s still a teenager until May 28.

3. Bad call burns Villa, as fans provide occasion: Neither the AR nor head referee saw the ball touch Ilkay Gundogan last ahead of a wrongly-awarded Man City corner. VAR isn’t going to be deployed for every corner, nor should it be, but the missed call allowed Gundogan’s corner that Rodri buried for 2-0.

Villa’s fans were tentative early, but snapped to life once Samatta scored and found another level after the hour mark. It will have been a memorable day for a big club even if Dean Smith‘s men can’t shake the relegation blues.

Man of the Match: It’s between Rodri and Foden, with an acknowledging nod to Villa defender Tyrone Mings. We’ll give it to Rodri, City’s underrated star.


Early chances went both ways, Anwar El Ghazi heading over the goal at one end before John Stones headed a Gundogan did the same at the other.

City took the lead on an incisive, clinical play. Rodri swept a pass over the line to a streaking Phil Foden, who cut back for Aguero.

The Argentine had plenty to do with a leaping side-footed finish of an airborne ball.

El Ghazi cut around Stones to shoot toward the near post, but Claudio Bravo was in position.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Rodri had it 2-0 off a Gundogan corner that should not have been. The ball went off Gundogan last on the end line, but VAR cannot review every corner.

Villa got one back when Stones fell over, allowing El Ghazi to cross between Fernandinho and Oleksandr Zinchenko for a waiting Samatta.

City couldn’t find the goal to put the game to bed and introduced Kevin De Bruyne for Ilkay Gundogan, Guardiola not content to ride out a one-goal win.

Rodri almost had another when Nyland pawed away a 74th-minute bid, and Aguero slipped in a bid to side volley a Sterling cross past Nyland.

Villa won a corner in the 87th minute through the industry of Trezeguet, the crowd again meeting the moment. Bravo made an incredible save to push Bjorn Engels‘ header off the post.

Manchester United claims derby honors at Man City

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s incredible week continued with Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat of Manchester City on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium.

The Red Devils beat Tottenham and their derby rivals City in a span of four days, and now sit fifth in the table on 24 points. That’s five points back of fourth place Chelsea, and eight back of City.

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things learned at the Etihad ]

City is a stunning 14 points back of leaders Liverpool.


Man City worries

1. Etihad embarrassment from fans: Manchester United led 2-0 in the 66th minute when they couldn’t manage to take a corner kick due to lighters and other objects being thrown at Fred, one hitting him in the head. A remonstrations from referee Anthony Taylor stopped the object tossing, but it’s a certain black eye for the home fans.

UPDATE: Video appears to show Jesse Lingard and Fred being racially abused by a fan making monkey gestures during the incident. Man City has released an incident on the matter. Read more here.

2. City has lost its nerve: Yes, these are the two-time defending champions of England, but the amount of complaints coming from the home side was stunning. The reactions during times of trouble have not been that of a typical Pep Guardiola side, assured of its eventual perch at the end of a match. Being second (or third) is not suiting City.

3. Another CB lost? With Aymeric Laporte still out for another couple months, City saw John Stones forced off in the 59th minute with injury. That brought Nicolas Otamendi into the fray alongside Fernandinho.

Man Utd marvels

1. Rashford: He’s totally tapping into his potential, and working so much better out wide than up the middle.

2. McTominay: He’s come from nowhere to become a vital part of everything they do. Won 12 of 15 duels, drew five fouls, and made three interceptions to go with three tackles.

3. Solskjaer: Again missing Pogba, the only foot Solskjaer put wrong at the home of a major rival was starting Jesse Lingard. Organized and patient in another banner day for the Norwegian.

Man of the Match: McTominay


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Daniel James forced a fine save out of Ederson in the first minute, while Kyle Walker stymied a would-be Anthony Martial breakaway with pace and a tackle.

Jesse Lingard was the next to trouble Ederson, United clearly up to the challenge of an away derby in the first 10 minutes.

Ederson saved from Martial in the 16th minute as the Red Devils continued to fly on the counter attack. City had all of the ball, but not much of the threat.

Referee Anthony Taylor waved away penalty claims when Bernardo Silva chopped down Rashford, but VAR did its job in properly awarding the attempt. Rashford converted it for his 10th goal in 11 matches.

Rashford flubbed a chance to make it 2-0n in the 25th, City wide open at the back.

That’s when Martial made it 2-0, cranking a shot off the near post and past Ederson.

Man City finally started to look dangerous after the half-hour mark, with David Silva pumping a shot into the gut of David De Gea.

Kyle Walker’s stoppage time cross was blocked by the arm of a sliding Fred, but only a corner kick arrived after VAR had a look.

City was better in the second half, with Kevin De Bruyne seeing a shot deflect out for a corner in the 55th.

Raheem Sterling picked the pocket of Victor Lindelof, and was traced through the 18 by Aaron Wan-Bissaka en route to a corner kick.

De Gea flew through the air to deny Rodri a goal in the 64th, and Wan-Bissaka blocked an Angelino shot 11 minutes later.

Otamendi powered a header home off a corner kick when Maguire was slow to react.

That really opened things up, and De Gea stopped Mahrez on a shot through traffic.

Guardiola: Man City won’t add to squad in January

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Manchester City appears to be woefully short of depth in central defense, but according to Pep Guardiola, he’s happy with the squad he wants and doesn’t want to add to it.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Guardiola said he doesn’t intend to use the upcoming January transfer window to upgrade his squad. That’s despite his side sitting 11-points behind league leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, with defensive errors leading to Newcastle’s 2-2 draw at St. James Park.

[READ: Premier League Storylines: Week 15]

“I don’t want any players in January,” Guardiola said, via the Guardian. “When they come for an incredible opportunity in January for the next four, five, six [years] maybe we could think about it. Normally the players we could think would be interesting to add something for our squad – clubs are not going to sell them in January.”

On one hand, Guardiola is correct. It’s difficult to get top-quality players in January. In a rare instance, Leicester City was able to sign Youri Tielemans on January transfer deadline day last year, while Virgil Van Dijk moved at the start of the January transfer window in 2018. However, in general, Man City isn’t going to be able to sign a world-class centerback in January unless they spend boatloads of money.

On the other hand, Man City isn’t at its best when 35-year-old Fernandinho is deputizing at centerback when the team is playing a high line. Obviously, Aymeric Laporte, one of the best centerbacks in the world, will be back from injury within the next couple of months. But until then, Man City can’t afford to drop any more points.

With John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi both struggling, maybe a signing in January, even of a veteran from La Liga or the Bundesliga, could help the team or at least provide defensive cover.

Southgate to rest stars, give youth a chance v. Kosovo

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With qualification to the 2020 European Championship secured earlier this week, England manager Gareth Southgate is set to rest most of his star players in favor of giving a number of younger players a chance to impress when the Three Lions take on Kosovo in Pristina on Sunday (12 p.m. ET).

[ PREVIEW: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final ]

According to a report from Sky Sports, Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford will be rested to make way for Chelsea youngsters Tammy Abraham (four caps) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (two caps). Finally given a chance to play regular minutes for the Blues, Abraham has already scored 10 goals in 12 Premier League appearances this season. The 22-year-old former journeyman loanee scored his first England goal in the 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro on Thursday. Hudson-Odoi is yet to score in PL play this season, but has shown well following his return from a ruptured achilles late last season.

John Stones and Jordan Pickford will be moved to the bench after starting against Montenegro. They will likely be replaced by Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and Burnley’s Nick Pope. Mings has made just one appearance for England, while Pope would be making his first start. Stones is seen as having taken on an excessive workload this season due to the ongoing defensive injury crisis at Manchester City.

[ MORE: Barcelona, Lionel Messi negotiating a new deal ]

Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez departed England camp on Saturday, due to illness and injury respectively. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Declan Rice and Mason Mount could start in midfield with James Maddison (calf) and injury doubt.

Another Chelsea youngster, 21-year-old Fikayo Tomori, is also said to be in line for his first England cap, most likely as a late-game substitute along the backline.

Ederson out for Liverpool game, while Van Dijk fit for Reds

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Pep Guardiola confirmed Manchester City’s injury fears ahead of the massive game against Liverpool at Anfield, with Ederson set to miss out after limping off at halftime of the weekday Champions League draw with Atalanta.

The Brazilian goalkeeper was withdrawn at the break for Claudio Bravo, who himself was unable to finish the match after being sent off, leaving Kyle Walker to don the gloves for the final few minutes. “He is not able to play,” Guardiola said of Ederson. “On Sunday he cannot play. We have another top keeper. We won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup thanks to Claudio. He is an exceptional goalkeeper.”

That leaves Man City even more thin at the back, already missing defenders Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko to long-term knee injuries. Laporte has a torn ACL and will miss at least the majority of the season, while Zinchenko is expected back in December after knee surgery of his own. John Stones is back in action, having returned in mid-October from his injury and utilized in each of the last three Premier League games, but he was rested midweek as Fernandinho deputized at center-back alongside Nicolas Otamendi.

Guardiola did not address the status of David Silva, but reports state that the Spaniard will also miss the game against Liverpool. The boss did say last weekend that Silva would be sidelined 10-12 days with a muscular injury suffered against Southampton. With two goals and four assists this season, Silva would be a big loss to an already thin Man City squad that utilized Bernardo Silva in a more central role with the Spaniard missing midweek.

For Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp confirmed that defender Virgil Van Dijk is ready to go despite missing training on Thursday, confirming that the absence was merely for personal reasons as the defender returned home to receive an award from the Dutch royal family. The Reds boss did say that Joel Matip and Xherdan Shaqiri are both out for the game, meaning that either Dejan Lovren or Joe Gomez will partner van Dijk in the middle. Lovren has played each of the last two Premier League matches in place of Matip, while Gomez was given the start midweek against Genk in Champions League play.