Monthly Archives: October 2016

Pep Guardiola: Sergio Aguero will start against Barcelona

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Manchester City manager Pep Guaridiola has given Sergio Aguero a vote of confidence as he confirmed the striker’s place in the team ahead of their Champions League match against Barcelona at home.

Guardiola was notably happy for Aguero after the striker scored twice and set up another in Manchester City’s 4-0 rout of West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League weekend, which in turn had ended the manager’s longest winless streak convincingly.

The Catalan appeared cheered that City’s winless run had finally come to an end.

“After six times without winning we needed points for the health,” he said. “When you lose, the problem is you lose a bit of confidence each time for the next game and it has happened in this period.”

“Sergio is a special player,” the former Barcelona coach said, praising Aguero’s performance. “We need him a lot and when he is in that behaviour and in that hunger he is decisive. Sergio is also so important for us because we don’t have too many strikers. Kelechi [Iheanacho] is a young player and has huge talent, but has a lot to learn.”

“Now is time to let me enjoy this game and we have time tomorrow to explain [about Barcelona],” he added. “I know how important it is against the best but now it’s time, two hours, to enjoy this victory. It’s better to arrive to the next game with a win rather than a defeat.”

In this season’s first encounter between City and Barca in Nou Camp, Aguero played only for the final 11 minutes when City was already trailing by three goals.

When pressed on his team for the latest reunion with his former club, which will also include the goalkeeper Willy Caballero because of Claudio Bravo’s suspension, Guardiola said of Aguero: “I think so, but I’m not going to tell you which position.”

Djokovic ready to defend World No1 rank as Murray closes in

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Novak Djokovic is ready to defend for his status as world number one even as second-placed Andy Murray prepares for next week’s Paris Masters looking to overtake the Serb.

Murray, 29, won his third title in as many weeks after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Vienna Open final on Sunday. He could top the ATP rankings next week if he wins the Paris Masters event and Djokovic fails to reach the final.

On the other hand, 12-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic collected his latest major title after completing the career Grand Slam with a first French Open title in June, but suffered a slump since.

He only managed to pick up just one more title in Toronto before losing early at both the Wimbledon and the Olympics, and missed the chance at collecting another Grand Slam title after a bruising defeat by Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final.

“Winning the French Open this year has brought a lot of joy to me but on the other hand has taken away a lot from me, as well,” said Djokovic.

“I felt a little bit exhausted, I must say, and maybe less motivated. So I had to kind of rediscover that feeling of being on the court and keep pushing myself.”

“I guess it took a little bit of time, more time, and I’m in a better state of mind at the moment than I was some months ago. It makes me want to go on court and fight for every point because there is something to win at the end.”

For Murray, it was a remarkable year with seven titles – the most in a season in his career.

“I get a step closer with every win but it’s still a long way from here,” he said. “From two to one seems a small jump in a way but it’s the hardest one to make. To go from 100 to 50 is more spots but is a lot easier.”

“I was thinking more about how you are going to win the match rather than what it would mean if you did win it but it’s nice to win my seventh tournament. A lot of them have come in the last few months. After the Australian Open I struggled a little bit but the last few months have been very good.”

Juventus defeats Napoli to widen gap on top of Serie A

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Gonzalo Higuain scored on his first return to Napoli since their bitter separation in the summer to give his new club Juventus a shaky 2-1 win in their Serie A showdown.

Higuain, 28, scored a record 36 goals for Napoli last season but joined the defending Italian champions in an acrimonious Italian-record £75m move in July.

In bianconeri colours, the Argentinian international smashed home a loose ball with 20 minutes left for his seventh goal of the season, which ultimately decided the game.

However, he did not celebrate – instead, extending his arms out wide and opening his hands, the former Real Madrid player opted to show an expression of apology to his former side.

Higuain, who was spared having to play in front of any travelling fans as they were banned from attending for security reasons, had also been greeted warmly by Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri with an embrace before the match started.

“He is a phenomenon,” said Sarri after the game. “A loose ball at Gonzalo’s feet is a death sentence for defenders. If Gonzalo wins something in Europe, I am happy for him, although less so for Juventus.”

“I still consider him to be like a son, even though the transfer to Juventus made me feel bad.”

Juventus had broken the deadlock five minutes after half time when Faouzi Ghoulam completely miscued a clearance, allowing the ball to stay in the air and fell invitingly for Leonardo Bonucci to volley home from 12 metres.

Still, Napoli were able respond quickly when Lorenzo Insigne dinked a delightful pass over the Juventus back line and Jose Callejon met it first time to sidefoot the ball under Gianluigi Buffon.

Higuain could have doubled his tally for Juventus, but badly miscued a header – leaving Napoli with hope of grabbing an equalizer late on as Juve defended their slim lead nervously.

But with the marginal victory, Juve was able to pull away from second-placed Roma on top of the Serie A table for a gap of five points, after their rivals endured a goalless draw at Empoli on Sunday.

Sir Alex Ferguson regards Man City as title favourite

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Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believed that Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are the favourites to lift the Premier League trophy this season.

“I think there’s five potential candidates: Manchester City as favourites, Tottenham and Liverpool, but also Man United are still there if we get some consistency soon,” Ferguson told German magazine kicker.

Jose Mourinho took charge of the Red Devils in the summer, but despite spending around £150m on new players, has only managed one Premier League victory since August and now trails City by six points.

“Even when you are trailing by six, eight points, it’s still possible to catch one or two teams,” the Scotsman explained.

“The rivalry and the experience of Guardiola and Mourinho makes for an exciting competition. And you shouldn’t forget Arsenal. The team is more sturdy. They’ve got better and more aggressive. I’m impressed with the young boy Alex Iwobi.”

“Guardiola’s skills are beyond debate, (Antonio) Conte is getting Chelsea on track, but Mourinho can also rival Guardiola – he’s won the Champions League with two different clubs and titles in three different countries.”

Ferguson also added that Liverpool, third in the table and level on points with leaders Manchester City, are genuine title contenders this season.

Last season, Liverpool finished eighth in the league, lost the League Cup final to Manchester City on penalties and were beaten by Sevilla in the Europa League final. Still, Ferguson believed that Jurgen Klopp had “revived Liverpool’s enthusiasm” since taking over as manager in October 2015.

“For two decades, Liverpool changed managers without building their own identity. You can now sense you truly have to count them in this year,” he said.