Rodri

Pep effusive in praise for Rodri after magnificent goal, performance

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Pep Guardiola raved about his Manchester City side after a 4-1 defeat of Burnley on Tuesday at Turf Moor, though previous criticisms were clearly still in his head.

Guardiola either didn’t understand or was caught off guard by a relatively straight-forward question about Rodri’s quality allowing Fernandinho to play center back, and bristled a bit.

[ RECAP: Burnley 1-4 Man City ]

“We are open to accept your opinions but at the end we know the qualities of the players much better than all of you and we know what the team needs in this moment. In Fernandinho for his personality and his character is an important player.”

Well, then. A simple misunderstanding, but perhaps a look into the mindset of the man right now.

The manager was very happy with Gabriel Jesus‘ brace and Rodri’s Man of the Match performance, one which included a bullet goal, as City rebounded from back-to-back draws against Shakhtar Donetsk and Newcastle.

He saved special praise for Rodri.

“He was incredible,” Guardiola said. “His position in the transition is so clever. He has a much better picture of our game in his head. He’s a fantastic player, so young and perfect in his physicality. He’s got it because a guy who wants to learn and listen, he’s ready, and that’s why we can count on him.”

As for Jesus, who scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in the place of injured Sergio Aguero, Guardiola expressed his confidence in the 22-year-old Brazilian.

“We need him so,” Guardiola said. “Strikers have to score goals and we need him. His effort and his commitment is always there, but strikers like him live for the goal and to score is important. … Of course it’s not easy but the team doesn’t have a doubt about him.”

Man City next hosts Manchester United on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Rodri, Jesus lead Man City to easy win

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Gabriel Jesus got Manchester City back in the win column ahead of a weekend derby, as the reigning champions scored a professional 4-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Riyad Mahrez scored his 50th Premier League goal and Rodri also scored for City, who became the third team to break the 30-point marker and joins Leicester City on 32. Man City hosts Manchester United at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

Robbie Brady scored in the 89th minute to ruin the clean sheet. Burnley dips into 11th with 18 points, six clear of the Bottom Three. The Clarets visit Spurs on Saturday.


Three things

1. Gabby goes good: Manchester City’s second league match without Sergio Aguero went much better than the first, and the 22-year-old Jesus deserves all the credit. Both of his goals were clinical finishes, the first a beauty from just inside the 18 and the second a thumping, leaping volley of a Bernardo Silva pass. His fourth and fifth goals helped City ease to the win ahead of an intense weekend derby.

2. Rodri’s pile pildriver seals the deal: The Spaniard’s second Premier League was a scorcher of the hottest quality. David Silva‘s shot was blocked onto the path of Rodri, who hit a volley past a flying, splayed Pope. We’re not sure his hand would’ve held up to the pressure of this incredible rip.

3. Feast of famine Clarets fail to give it a go: Sean Dyche set up negatively and mostly limited damage, but the home crowd will have been hoping for something more from a side which has either been strong or miserable for the better part of a month. Burnley’s last five fixtures have ended multiple goals to nil: 3-0 losses to City and Sheffield United, a 2-0 defeat versus Palace, and 3-0 beatings of Watford and West Ham.

Man of the Match: Rodri — Aside from the blazing goal, Rodri completed 90 of 99 passes while winning four aerials and three tackles.


It comes as little surprise that City controlled the early stages, and had the ball in the goal only to see a flag rightly raised when an offside Gabriel Jesus redirected an Angelino drive past Nick Pope.

Jesus would break through in the 24th minute, swirling a shot around Pope which looked an awful lot like Jack Grealish‘s marvelous goal versus Manchester United this weekend.

Pope continues to shine at Turf Moor, and made a strong leg save to deny Bernardo Silva before halftime, one of several interventions in the frame.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Jesus again got the better of Pope when Kevin De Bruyne played Bernardo on the right of the box. The Portuguese sent a cross to the back post that a leaping Jesus smashed into the goal for 2-0.

Dwight McNeil ripped a free kick on frame that Ederson collected in the 61st minute.

Rodri’s rocket goal was joining by a savvy strike from Mahrez in the 87th minute, Phil Foden laying off to the Algerian for a dribble to the top of 18 and drive past Pope.

Brady denied City its clean sheet when he ran onto a loose ball at the back post in the 89th.

Guardiola fears Sergio Aguero’s muscular injury is ‘not good’

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Manchester City may be without their top scorer for weeks to come.

Sergio Aguero limped off the field in the 77th minute, following a challenge from Reece James in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over a visiting Chelsea, and Pep Guardiola is worried that the striker may be out of action during a crucial point of the season.

“Hopefully we’ll know tomorrow [Sunday], but the first indication is not good,” Pep Guardiola admitted following his team’s win on Saturday. “I think it’s a muscular injury. [We could be without] him for some days of the toughest part of our season.“

“The doctor says tomorrow we are going to see but he thought it was a kick but I think he stretched a little bit,” he added.

The striker, who has scored 13 goals this season, is now a doubt for Man City’s midweek Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk, and depending on the results of the scan he is scheduled for on Sunday, may miss games against Newcastle, Burnley and Manchester United.

In league play, the 31-year-old has featured 12 times (nine starts) for City, scoring on nine occasions. With a goal-per-game ratio of 0.8 this season, Aguero is on pace to tie his best his best mark. Meanwhile, Gabriel Jesus – who replaced an injured Aguero in the 77th minute at the Etihad – has scored only three goals in 10 appearances this season.

Aguero was not the only City player to come off on Saturday due to health reasons.

Following the game, Guardiola also admitted that captain David Silva and Rodri had to pulled out of the field due to the “tiredness” and “cramps” that both Spaniards were experiencing.

“For Rodri and Silva it is more tiredness and cramps,” he said. “Rodri was out for a month and games like today are so demanding, but with determination and suffering in certain moments, we did it.”

Following a deflection, Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring, while Riyad Mahrez, with a bit of bit of brilliance, sealed the three points late in the first half, as City managed to eek out a vital victory over a red-hot Chelsea.

“We beat an incredible top side, Frank is a brave manager – courageous to play,” Guardiola said. “Chelsea are an incredible team, we knew it but we beat them. It was a typical high-level game. Our back four played so good today. In the most difficult period of the game we scored on the counter.

“We created enough chances to score more goals. We score a goal [equaliser] when they were better. Before the goal from them, the game was tight. Then we suffered, but the second half we were much better.”

Man City rises above Chelsea challenge

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Manchester City came back from the break with vigor, overcoming an early Chelsea goal to beat its Top Four rivals 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez scored for the two-time reigning PL champs, with Rodri getting an assist before heading off with an injury.

[ MORE: Grading Pulisic’s day at the Etihad ]

Sergio Aguero also limped off the pitch late for the City, who remains nine points back of leaders Liverpool.

N’Golo Kante scored for Chelsea, whose 26 points are good for fourth place and an 11-point gulf below Liverpool.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]


Three things we learned

1. City’s not dead: The reigning champs City went behind early and inspired some worries that the shine might’ve left the big game hunters, but De Bruyne and Co. were composed in building City back into the lead. Guardiola’s three-man midfield of Rodri, David Silva, and De Bruyne dealt well with the ball and in the more than 50 percent of the game that Chelsea had it, while Riyad Mahrez was pretty great in addition to his wonderful, decisive goal. City boosted its goal differential to a joint league-best 23 (Leicester City).

2. Two more significant injury worries for City: Rodri left the match after 52 minutes and Aguero was carrying a heavy limp when he left the match for Gabriel Jesus. The Argentine then had a talk with Guardiola on the touch line to seemingly let him know the limps weren’t for show. Rodri is a bigger concern, but neither player can miss too much time as City’s title margins are oh-so-slim.

3. Chelsea’s trophy odds change camps: A lot can happen in 25 match days and it would be stunning if a team of the Blues quality dropped out of the Top Four, but the idea that the Blues can erase 11 points of Liverpool lead and have that happen without Man City taking similar advantage of a Reds collapse is a bit wild. Frank Lampard wouldn’t be wrong to think about prioritizing the UCL on occasion when sorting his lineups. We’ll be happy to eat our words and crowd Lampard “King of World Football” if today didn’t sound Chelsea’s PL title hopes death knell.

Man of the Match: Mahrez — His goal was a reminder of his status as one of the Premier League players of the decade, the one-time Leicester City hero. Next-up status for Kovacic and De Bruyne.

What a goal.


Fernandinho hit a scintillating early through ball to help Aguero set up De Bruyne for a hard shot that dragged just wide of the goal.

Willian missed a similar chance at the other end in the same fashion, off the far post by inches.

Kante claimed a lead for Chelsea raced between Benjamin Mendy and Fernandinho to collect a wonderful Mateo Kovacic pass and beat a screened, charging Ederson.

De Bruyne leveled the score in the 29th, cutting to make room atop the 18 and slapping a shot that took a hard turn off Kurt Zouma to make it 1-1.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Mahrez made it 2-1 when he took a Rodri pass and scythed between Emerson and Kovacic to lash past Arrizabalaga.

And Aguero was in prime position to score after Arrizabalaga passed the ball right to him, but the City man smashed off the cross bar.

The second half saw life for both teams, but City was again at the wheel for most of it.  Sterling didn’t have a day to remember, but his clinical side-footed finish of a stoppage time flick was delightful. Unfortunately, it was chalked off by the slimmest of margins.

Watch Live: Liverpool v. Manchester City

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It’s a big one at Anfield.

Manchester City heads to Liverpool on Sunday with a six-point gap between it and the league-leading Reds, who are chasing their first league title of the Premier League era (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Rodri passes fit for City but Ederson does not, putting Claudio Bravo between the sticks. John Stones and Fernandinho are the center backs.

It’s as expected for Liverpool, as Jurgen Klopp chooses Dejan Lovren over Joe Gomez at center back and keeps James Milner on the bench as well.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Firmino. Subs: Adrian, Milner, Keita, Lallana, Origi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gomez.

Manchester City: Bravo, Walker, Stones, Fernandinho (C), Angelino, Rodrigo, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero. Subs: Carson, Jesus, Silva, Mahrez, Cancelo, Otamendi, Foden.