Nicolas Otamendi

Kyle Walker
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Kyle Walker: City catching up to Liverpool ‘difficult’ after derby loss to United

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After a crushing 2-1 loss to archrival Manchester United at home, 14 is the new magic number for Pep Guardiola and company.

14 is the number of points that Manchester City trail league leaders Liverpool by, an uphill battle that is influencing many people on the outside looking in to think that City’s chances of lifting the league’s silverware for a third straight season are officially done and dusted.

That’s not the narrative that is occupying Kyle Walker‘s train of thought, however. Speaking on behalf of his City teammates and himself, the defender is keen on fighting until they’re mathematically out of contention for the title, regardless if the standings show that Liverpool have yet to suffer a defeat this season after 16 matches.

“Can’t fault the manager,” Walker told Sky Sports following City’s second Premier League loss in five games. “He has won numerous trophies. I can’t put my finger on it. It is going to be difficult, Liverpool are on fire. They [Liverpool] are getting wins and we are not. It is a big gap but we will fight until the end.”

A consolation goal from Nicolas Otamendi in the 85th minutes wasn’t enough for the Cityzens, who endured a fourth league loss this season, matching last season’s number of losses throughout 38 games.

After the dispiriting derby day performance from City, the defending champions stand at 32 points after 16 bouts, the lowest point haul for Guardiola in his 11-year top-flight management career.

No team in league history has overcome a 14-point deficit. Since late October, City are yet to record a clean sheet, an apparent issue that Walker believes he and the rest of the team’s defenders need to address in order to return to old ways.

“Us as defenders need to hold our hands up,” he said. “We need to keep clean sheets and strikers maybe need to put more away. They had a game plan and it worked. They have quick players in quick areas and they are going to hurt you on the counter. Credit where credit is due, they stepped up today. Fair play.”

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.

WATCH: Man City scores five times in first 18 minutes

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What a start. Emphasize it, bold it, underline it.

Manchester City scored five goals in the first 18 minutes of play on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium, relegating Watford to also-ran status before the match was a quarter finished.

[ STREAM: Man City v. Watford ]

It took 54 seconds for De Bruyne to assist David Silva with an outstanding opener, but Gerard Deulofeu nearly answered when he danced around Nicolas Otamendi to force a conceded corner out of Ederson.

Silva, marked for Inter Miami in a mid-week report, was the finisher for the 55th time in his Premier League career and 72nd for his club.

Ben Foster then gave away a useless penalty when he slapped a through ball out of bounds before felling Riyad Mahrez for an easy penalty. Aguero stepped to the spot calm as you like and dispatched the No. 2 to the scoreboard.

That was hardly the end to Watford’s woes, as Mahrez dazzled with a dribble through the heart of the field to earn a free kick atop the 18. There was only one destination, given the series of events. 3-0.

Bernardo Silva then got in on the act, when Otamendi nodded a De Bruyne corner to the back post for a prone finish and 4-0.

Not to be outdone, Otamendi was back post for a finish of his own, giving City its fifth goal off an Aguero assist.

Man City midfield controls Shakhtar in Ukraine

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Manchester City got its UEFA Champions League run off to a convincing start, easing some nerves from the weekend with a 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan set each other up for goals, Gabriel Jesus also scored, and Fernandinho partnered with Nicolas Otamendi at center back to earn the clean sheet.


Three things we learned

1. Midfield runs the match: Center backs aren’t all that vital if the ball never gets to them, and Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri were exceptional (even with the latter taking an early yellow card). Rodri completed every single one of his 82 passes in helping City control the park, departing with less than a quarter-hour to play. Pep Guardiola had a lot of love for Gundogan’s day.

2. De Bruyne dangerous on an off day: Kevin De Bruyne just couldn’t find that final ball, constantly in dangerous areas but unable to execute that moment. Credited with three key passes including th, his shooting was the glaring difference between 3-0 and 5-0.

3. Shakhtar shows creative flair: Taison and Marlos both showed a knack for taking on defenders, each credited with four dribbles on the day. It was Shakhtar’s best chance to break down a disciplined City, and the closest the hosts came to succeeding on the day.

Man of the Match: Rodri


A Kevin De Bruyne free kick provided an early threat, but Rodri’s header was a bit off and unable to open the scoring in Ukraine.

Shakhtar then had a nice spell of possession, but City was up to the task. Rodri led a chance in the other direction and sent a ball back De Bruyne for a header, which was wide like the first.

Mahrez put City ahead on a rebound after Ilkay Gundogan took a Gabriel Jesus feed and pushed the ball off the post.

The Algerian didn’t need a post to return the favor, sending a delightful pass into the path of Gundogan for a smooth finish an 2-0.

De Bruyne finally got his assist when he took care of a bounding ball to Jesus for a chop into the goal.

Guardiola: Man City must ‘learn’ and ‘carry on’ after loss to Norwich

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It’s what everyone least expected: Norwich City walking out victors in their match against defending champions Manchester City at Carrow Road on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays | Three things we learned]

But it happened, and even Pep Guardiola, who has very little experience of floundering against underdogs, had to come to terms with the hard reality that his team was outplayed in their 3-2 loss to a recently-promoted side in what could well be the upset of the year. From the BBC:

“Congrats to Norwich. The first goal was from a set-piece and the second on the counter so credit to them. It is what it is. We have to learn from this and carry on.

“Our passing was not bad. We created chances but we could not score them today. They are a really good team with good players with quality, we saw that in the Championship last year, they were clinical today.”

Perhaps a bigger pill to swallow for the two-time Premier League winning manager is the fact that his side are five points behind league-leaders Liverpool, who comfortably ahead of the pack, show no signs of wear and tear. Ultimately, it’s losses like Saturday night’s that will have Guardiola and Co. on the outside looking in for the majority of the long season ahead.
There is enough blame to go around at Man City. In the 50th minute, Nicolas Otamendi coughed up the ball inside the box for an easy, game-winning goal for the Canaries. Guardiola’s side also struggled to create clear-cut chances in the attacking third, despite dominating the stats sheet. Overall, it was an underwhelming night from a side that lives and breathes success under the 48-year-old.

“We did not have urgency in the final third that we normally have,” Guardiola added. “In football you can’t always avoid mistakes. I don’t know how many shots we had or how many they had, but football is about goals and about what you do in the boxes.”

It’s only September – there is plenty of time for Man City and Guardiola to figure things out, obviously.