Riyad Mahrez

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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.

Man City go top with defeat of Cardiff City (video)

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  • Sane with goal, assist
  • De Bruyne opens scoring
  • City back atop table with 80 points

Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane scored as Manchester City eased back atop the table with a 2-0 defeat of Cardiff City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

City now leads second place Liverpool by one point, hitting the 80-point mark for the second-straight season. City also has a 9-goal advantage in goal differential.

Cardiff City remains 18th, five points back of safety.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Neil Etheridge made a great stop on Riyad Mahrez in the match’s first stages, but it wasn’t a precursor to a legendary clean sheet.

De Bruyne made it 1-0 with an effort which is either a delightful strike or a wayward cross, and certainly looked more like the latter.

Bruno Ecuele Manga’s bad giveaway gave Gabriel Jesus the best of several early chances, but the Brazilian sent the ball over the bar.

Jesus turned playmaker when he chested a cross to Sane, who left no doubt with a low drive into the goal.

Etheridge made a fine stop on Phil Foden in the second half as Cardiff City bid to keep the score line in check.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Man City wins, loses KDB, Stones (video)

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  • De Bruyne injured on contested dribble
  • Mahrez scores winner off bench
  • Cherries out-attemped by 23-0 margin

Manchester City didn’t have too many issues with control in a 1-0 win at Bournemouth, but will be worried after Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones left the field early at the Vitality Stadium.

Both players did not leave the stadium and finished the match on the bench, in what may be a hopeful sign.

Riyad Mahrez scored the goal as City moved atop the Premier League table by two points ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside Derby.

Bournemouth remains 12th, with 34 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Cherries were stout in the first half, especially impressive given the youth in their back line.

And perhaps their odds improved when both John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne were forced off due to injuries, the latter occurring during an uncontested dribble.

A substitute put Pep Guardiola‘s men ahead, with Riyad Mahrez bundling over the line from a tight angle.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Sergio Aguero seemed the best bet to double the lead, but the match hit its final 20 minutes still 1-0.

Artur Boruc made a fine intervention when Raheem Sterling was sprung 1v1 via a defensive error, and Mahrez hit a half-volley a mile over the goal.

Man City’s Kyle Walker was fortunate to remain in the game after a hard sliding challenge on Joshua King.

Boruc was again the man to make a great reflex save on an 86th minute corner kick.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Foden, Man City advance in FA Cup (video)

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  • Foden scores twice
  • Ederson with reaction save
  • Sane bloodies keeper’s nose with winner
  • Armond pulls one back before Foden restores two-goal lead

Second-half goals from Leroy Sane and Phil Foden ended Newport County’s game effort for a shock defeat of Manchester City in FA Cup fifth round action at Rodney Parade on Saturday.

Sane hit a close-range shot off the nose of Exiles’ keeper Joe Day and into the goal, as City finally found a goal on the beat-up shared rugby pitch, and Foden hit a bounding shot past Day with just over a quarter-hour to play in the 4-1 win.

Newport County’s goal came when Padraig Armond hit a loose ball off Aymeric Laporte, over Ederson, and into the goal. But Foden completed his brace with a dribble and finish off the ensuing kickoff, and Mahrez blistered the back of the net with a stoppage time finish.

City moves onto the quarterfinals, where they’ll join Watford, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Millwall.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

Newport was up for the challenge, at least early, and their rugged pitch certainly helped close the gap between the first- and fourth-tier English sides.

In fact, a terrific glove save from Ederson kept City level just after the quarter-hour mark. Mickey Demetriou’s long throw made its way to Tyreeq Bakinson, but the latter’s header was stymied by City’s Brazilian backstop.

A lively Riyad Mahrez was a consistent threat for City in the early stages, having one shot turned out for a corner and blazing a left-footed effort wide from atop the 18.

Despite the Algerian’s best efforts, Michael Flynn’s men took the match to halftime 0-0.

City broke through via Sane, whose tight-angled shot bloodied Joe Day’s nose on the way into the goal.

[ WATCH: Flynn greets “genius” Guardiola ]

Day got low to stop John Stones‘ bid for 2-0, and the game reached its final half-hour as a one-score affair.

An Ederson giveaway came close to gifting Newport County a bid for an equalizer, but the Brazilian was bailed out by his backs.

Phil Foden gave a ay a free kick rescued by Ederson after a few headers in the 73rd.

The pitch helped City’s second goal, as Foden’s shot bounded over a diving Day to make it 2-0.

Day then saved a Sane shot with his face in the 85th minute before catching a Gabriel Jesus effort moments later.

The Exiles pulled one back, but City bagged a pair of goals afterward through Foden and Mahrez to flatter their match with a 4-1 score line.

League Cup preview: Leicester takes on Man City

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The quarterfinals of the 2018/19 Carabao Cup have arrived, and there’s a Premier League matchup waiting for us on which to feast.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: League Cup matches ]

Leicester City is set to take on Manchester City, the third straight Premier League opponent for the Foxes in this competition after having knocked off Wolves and Southampton, both via penalty shootouts. Manchester City, meanwhile, has breezed past Oxford United and Fulham by a total scoreline of 5-0.

That about sums up how many expect this matchup to go, as Manchester City sit as heavy favorites in the 2:45 p.m. ET meeting at King Power Stadium. These two teams have not met yet this season, with their first Premier League fixture scheduled for Boxing Day. That means former Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez could face his old club for the first time since moving to Manchester City this past summer.

Man City attacker Kevin De Bruyne returned from his six-week injury absence over the weekend, coming on for a 15-minute cameo in the 3-1 win over Everton. De Bruyne could reportedly feature in this matchup as City eases him back into action, however it’s also feasible that Pep Guardiola decides to keep him healthy and return him to full action in the team’s upcoming weekend Premier League meeting with Crystal Palace. Sergio Aguero, however, could see significant time as he returns from a groin injury. The Argentinian striker has not played since late November, but is reportedly ready to return.

For Leicester City, Ben Chilwell is still out injured and Jonny Evans is suspended, while Jamie Vardy could be rested, according to the BBC.

These two teams met in the quarterfinals last season as well, with Leicester City eliminated on penalties. It was the fourth time in as many Cup meetings that the Foxes were knocked out by Man City.

Elsewhere, a lower-league matchup takes place as Championship side Middlesbrough takes on League One club Burton Albion at Riverside Stadium. The visitors were relegated from the Championship last season and sit 15th in the English third tier so far this campaign, while Middlesbrough has hopes of promotion to the Premier League, sitting sixth at the moment, a season after falling in the playoffs to eventual champions Fulham last time around.

This year marks the first time in the club’s history that Burton Albion has progressed past the third round of the League Cup. “I still can’t quite believe Burton Albion are in the last eight of a major cup competition,” manager Nigel Clough said.