Liverpool signed off 2016 with a massive 1-0 victory against Man City to aid their title aspirations and dent Pep Guardiola’s
It had been billed as an attacking exhibition; the fireworks to precede the big bangs to follow on a milder than usual New Year’s Eve night.
Pep Guardiola had labelled Jurgen Klopp as perhaps the best manager in the world at creating problems for the opposition in the final third, and as the Premier League’s most formidable forward line met the team with the most goals on their travels, the equation spelt a nightmare for the two men between the sticks.
When Liverpool scored inside 10 minutes, it gave further credence to that theory – especially fitted with the explosive recent history of fixtures against Manchester City.
But Gini Wijnaldum’s header proved to be the decisive moment of the match, with defensive doggedness and diligence providing the platform for the Reds to end 2016 in triumph and as Chelsea’s closest challengers.
The visitors joined Antonio Conte’s charges – as well as Arsenal, Tottenham, defending champions Leicester and Manchester United – in failing to take maximum points off Liverpool this season.
And Guardiola found himself on the long list of managers wondering just what the formula is to foil the Anfield outfit. City had disrupted the Reds’ usual fluidity, not allowing them the freedom to create, yet the hosts still forced a win.
Klopp had predicted pre-match that it would take “defending at the highest level” for a result to be achieved in the encounter.
In keeping with his thinking that Liverpool’s offensive moments would need extra protection, the 49-year-old restored midfielder Emre Can to the first 11 in place of Divock Origi.
While promoting greater security in the centre of the park, it also meant Roberto Firmino operated as the focal point again to press City’s rearguard menacingly.
The German had stayed in his seat early on while Guardiola surveyed the action by shuffling across his technical area. Eight minutes in, however, Klopp could no longer remain rooted as the Brazil international cleverly picked out Lallana, who was encouraged to foray forward and whip in a cross courtesy of Pablo Zabaleta’s passiveness.
The England international sliced his stellar delivery in-between the full-back and Raheem Sterling, with Wijnaldum expertly reading and meeting the ball. City had four players in the box before the midfielder arrived to head in.
It was the only goal of the first half, but the 45 minutes belonged to Liverpool beyond the scoreline. They were more threatening in the final third, while restricting the influence of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.
Claudio Bravo had more touches than the striker by the interval, while Sterling was finding himself having to revert backwards with James Milner superior in their tussle.
Man City did not have a single shot on target in the first half, and while they did well to close down passing lanes and force Liverpool into rushed decisions, their ambitions in the final third were not pronounced enough to cause any concern.
Liverpool’s half-time talk would’ve no doubt touched on the fact that while they were authoritative, they would have had a more comfortable advantage if they added incisiveness.
But it was City who were in the ascendancy in second half, even after Nathaniel Clyne surrendered a glorious chance to make it 2-0 after being left unmarked by De Bruyne in the area. David Silva went narrowly close with a curler after cutting in from the right with Aguero’s shot from distance not troubling Simon Mignolet in the moments prior.
City tried to morph into the expansive, dangerous opposition they often are, but that offered Liverpool opportunities to counter. Many of them were wasted through chaotic play when more clarity was required, while captain Jordan Henderson had to be replaced through injury.
Vincent Kompany watched proceedings sat among the away end where a blue flare went off with nothing to celebrate, because as the minutes ticked on, it became apparent that the Reds would not relinquish the game.
Guardiola remarked afterwards that City, now 10 points behind Chelsea, can only focus on the next challenge. Klopp, though, can look upwards.
Liverpool’s development in 2016, in which they’ve scored 87 goals, has been staggering. That there is scope for further enhancement to match their ambition should unsettle their rivals.
Jordan Ayew tops English Premier League sprint chart after 16 matches
Ghana forward Jordan Ayew has been rated as the player with most sprints in the English Premier League after 16 round of games.
The Swansea City attacker has always been faced with criticisms for his lack of work ethos when playing for the Ghana’s senior national team.
But the former Olympique Marseille man appears to have had the best statistics in arguably the world’s best championship in terms of a player that has made the most sprints in the league after 16 matches
The 25-year-old heads the list of the 10 players ahead of speedsters including Hector Bellerin of Arsenal, Delle Alli of Tottenham and Richarlison of Watford.
According to the Express.co.uk, with their high intensity and counter-attacking football, Manchester City have wracked up the most sprints so far this season with a whopping 6198.
However, relegation-threatened West Ham have managed a measly 4942.
Surprisingly, Manchester United only have the 15th highest amount of sprints with 5210.
Even though Manchester City have wracked up the most sprints as a team, no individual star of Pep Guardiola’s side makes the top 10.
So which Premier League ace has sprinted the most times?
1. Jordan Ayew (Swansea) – 796 sprints
2. Delle Alli (Tottenham) – 742 sprints
3. Jay Rodriguez (Burnley) – 715 sprints
4. Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)- 695 sprints
5. Tom Cleverley (Watford) – 695 sprints
6. Tom Ince (Huddersfield) – 683 sprints
7. Abdoulaye Doucore (Watford) – 682 sprints
8. Richarlison (Watford) – 677 sprints
9. Erik Pieters (Stoke) – 669 sprints
10. Pascal Gross (Brighton) – 662 sprints
Pots announced for Final Draw
With Peru completing the line-up of 32 teams for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, we now know the seeding pots for the Final Draw on 1 December.
It was confirmed in September, by the Organising Committee for FIFA Competitions, that all teams will be allocated to (eight-team) pots 1 to 4 based on sporting principles. The October 2017 edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be used to allocate all qualified teams to the four pots according to their ranking in descending order, after hosts Russia who take the top seeding spot.
With those factors in mind, here are the final pots for the Final Draw:
POT 1 Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
POT 2 Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
POT 3 Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
POT 4 Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia
It is worth remembering that the principle of drawing the teams into the groups will remain unchanged. This means that no teams from the same confederation, with the exception of UEFA, which could have up to two teams in the same group, will be drawn into the same group.
The Final Draw will take place on Friday 1 December at Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace.
« We do not want him at Real Madrid anymore »
Real Madrid are in a bad situation in the league, the club of Casa Blanca is currently third in Liga behind Valencia and Barça, the Catalans have taken a big lead, and this could definitely make them lose the championship in the winter. And a Madrid club player is highlighted in these poor results.
101 million euros for his transfer, 23 injuries since, 73 matches missed or 55% of the matches of his team. Statistics that would drive any coach and / or leaders crazy. You have it ?
These are the figures of Gareth Bale since his arrival at Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 from Tottenham. Whoever has played only nine games in the year 2017/2018 seems to have seriously undermined the patience of its leaders. Just back from a calf injury, he was summoned by the Welsh side to face France in a friendly last Friday, but made the choice to stay in Madrid to prepare for the derby against Atletico Madrid. But, the blow, the Welsh injured during training last Thursday and will be absent about a month.
What continue to fuel the rumors of transfers but especially what cause irritation of the board leader. The latter, tired of not being able to align their triplet « BBC », have made a decision that should be irrevocable, according to the Madrid newspaper AS: It must leave this summer. And the Spanish media also explains that the president of the Madrilenian club, Florentino Perez, added:
« We do not want him at Real Madrid anymore »
Yet strongly criticized last season, Bale had managed to avoid a departure last summer, claiming to want to win at Real Madrid. This year, his start to the season does not plead in his favor and he seems to have exhausted all his jokers in the Spanish capital. The departure of the Welsh international therefore seems to have been recorded.
The rumor of a return to the Premier League, Manchester United in particular, has been reactivated but the number of contenders could quickly evolve in view of the quality of the player. Be careful though, the Welsh is signed until 2022, and Florentino Perez is determined not to sell his player.
Unless a return to its best level, it is difficult to see how the Welsh international could reverse the situation. Zinedine Zidane even found his replacement for 100 million euros.
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