Aguero looking vulnerable as City evolve under Guardiola

first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP): Manchester City’s spine of goalkeeper Joe Hart, centre back Vincent Kompany, midfielder Yaya TourÈ and striker Sergio Aguero has anchored the team since 2011 in the most decorated period in its history. One by one, it is being dismantled by Pep Guardiola. Hart has been sent out on loan to Italy. The injury-hampered Kompany no longer appears first choice. Toure has been ostracised. And the seemingly unthinkable is happening: Aguero is coming under pressure for his place. Aguero started on the bench for the English Premier League game against Everton last Saturday after playing two matches for Argentina during the international break. More surprisingly, he stayed among the substitutes for the Champions League match at Barcelona on Wednesday, when Guardiola preferred to play midfielder Kevin De Bruyne up front. Aguero has been untouchable, a guaranteed starter since joining from Atletico Madrid in July 2011. Suddenly, possibly the most popular player among City fans – and a scorer of 102 league goals in his first five seasons at the club – is vulnerable and seemingly dispensable, even if he is likely to regain his place for the Premier League match against Southampton tomorrow. When asked if Aguero was being phased out, Guardiola said yesterday that the player’s future was at City. “When Sergio decides to leave Manchester City, it will be his decision,” Guardiola said. Then, echoing comments he made about Hart in August before allowing him to leave, Guardiola added: “I appreciate him (as) a football player. I appreciate (as) a man what he did here.” It’s not just the recent selection decisions that hint at a sense of unease between Guardiola and Aguero. Guardiola has said publicly on at least two occasions this season that he wants more from Aguero than just goals, just like he wanted more from Hart than simply making saves. After Aguero’s hat-trick in the Champions League win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, Guardiola said: “I cannot teach him (about his talent in the penalty box), but he has to know that behind, the rest of the team wants to help him, and that is what I want to convince him.” While on international duty with Argentina this month, Aguero was quoted as telling Argentine media that Guardiola “is very picky about everything, (and) it’s good. “The good thing is that I’m getting used to him and automatically going straight into pressing the centre backs.” Aguero, who is contracted to City until 2020, has 11 goals in 10 appearances this season, and 19 in his last 20 dating to last season. There are few better, attainable strikers around and it will be intriguing to see how the situation pans out, especially with Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus due to arrive in December to provide competition up front. Guardiola said on Friday that he had no regrets about his decision to drop Aguero for the Barcelona game, which City lost 4-0 after having goalkeeper Claudio Bravo red-carded. That made it four games without a win for Guardiola, and a failure to beat Southampton would equal the longest streak without a victory in his coaching career. In an answer that lasted more than 61/2 minutes yesterday, he defended his tactics at Camp Nou and praised the personality of his young players like John Stones and De Bruyne. Guardiola repeated he will not change his style. “I think about that, yes,” he said. “But after that, the solution is not better than what I believe, so I cannot. Do you know why as well? Because in seven years (at Barcelona and Bayern Munich), I won 21 titles. Ö So it’s three titles per year playing in that way. “No, no, I’m not going to change. First, it’s going to happen that (if) it’s not going well in the future, next season isn’t going well in that way, I will go home.”last_img read more

Kane double inspires Spurs to cane Liverpool

first_img0Shares0000Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane (2nd R) celebrates with teammate Serge Aurier (R) after scoring the opening goal of English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in London on October 22, 2017 © IKIMAGES/AFP / Ian KINGTONLONDON, United Kingdom, Oct 22 – Harry Kane scored twice for Tottenham Hotspur in a 4-1 victory over an abject Liverpool team on Sunday that left the Merseyside club’s Premier League title hopes in tatters.Kane struck early in each half, book-ending goals from Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli, with Mohamed Salah netting in reply in front of a record Premier League crowd of 80,827 at Wembley that included the great Diego Maradona. Spurs move level on points with second-place Manchester United, five points below leaders Manchester City, while Liverpool’s sorry defensive display left them a yawning 12 points off the pace in eighth place.It was a second galling defeat against a supposed title rival for Liverpool, following their 5-0 capitulation at City in early September, and they have now won just one of their last six league games.They were unrecognisable from the team that had crushed Maribor 7-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday, their travails summed up by a catastrophic defensive display from Dejan Lovren, who was taken off in the 31st minute.Liverpool’s defeat — their first in 10 league games against Spurs — also saw them become only the sixth team to have conceded over 1,000 goals since the Premier League was launched in 1992.With Liverpool out of the League Cup and their hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16 in the balance, it leaves manager Jurgen Klopp facing some uncomfortable questions two years into his Anfield tenure.His opposite number, Mauricio Pochettino, redeployed the 3-5-2 system he had used in the 1-1 draw at Real Madrid in mid-week, but with illness restricting Eric Dier and Ben Davies to the bench, Serge Aurier started at left wing-back.Kieran Trippier came into the team on the other flank and within four minutes he had an assist to his name.The former Burnley man’s lofted pass was misjudged by Lovren and with Joel Matip slow to react, Kane stole in, hooked the ball inside the advancing Simon Mignolet and rolled it into the net.Lovren’s nightmare continued eight minutes later as he woefully mistimed an attempt to head away a long throw from Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, allowing Kane to canter into the space behind him.– Alli volley –The striker celebrates in front of the home fansThe England striker found Son with a brilliant cross from the right and the Spurs number seven used the inside of his left foot to plant a first-time shot past the exposed Mignolet.It was almost 3-0 moments later as Son chested down Christian Eriksen’s through ball and slammed a shot against the Liverpool bar.Liverpool reduced the arrears against the run of play in the 24th minute when Jordan Henderson’s pass from deep released Salah to trundle a right-foot shot past Lloris and in off the left-hand post.But Spurs continued to find space behind Lovren — Son’s toe-poke blocked by Mignolet after he was cleverly freed by Alli — and in the 31st minute Klopp brought the Croatian’s torment to an end.Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on and the ensuing reshuffle meant Emre Can dropped to right-back, where he was quickly found wanting.His untidy foul from behind on Alli gave Spurs a free-kick in first-half stoppage time and when Eriksen’s delivery was headed away by Matip, Alli thumped a volley into the bottom-left corner.It was game over 11 minutes into the second period after yet more scenes of calamity in the Liverpool penalty area.Mignolet flapped at Trippier’s free-kick and although Roberto Firmino got back to block Jan Vertonghen’s goal-bound shot, Kane reacted swiftly to crash the rebound home.With eight goals, the 24-year-old is now the outright top scorer in the division.A second goal eluded Liverpool, Lloris acrobatically tipping a Philippe Coutinho curler onto the post and saving with his feet from both James Milner and Salah.The only concern for Spurs was the sight of Kane holding the back of his left leg as he gave way for Fernando Llorente late on.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more