De Bruyne happy to be back

Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has admitted that he has yet to hit top form for the reigning Premier League champions this season.

The 27-year-old Belgium international has made just two league starts so far this season, having suffered with two knee problems already this term, but he is now back in the fold on a regular basis with the Citizens and looking to improve in the near future.

He told reporters: "I'm getting better.

"You need a run of games where you play a lot, because I'm not used to playing every three days, but I'm getting there.

"I'm happy with the way I'm performing. It's not the same record as last year, but you can expect that because I've been out since the World Cup.

"To come back twice is mentally not that easy, but I'm happy to be back playing football again."

Former Chelsea forward De Bruyne joined City in the summer of 2015 and has since scored 38 goals in 153 appearances in all competitions, helping the Citizens to win the Premier League title last season, as well as two successes in the League Cup.

On the international stage he was a member of the Belgium squad who reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in the summer of last year and has netted 15 times in 68 outings for the Red Devils to date.

Meanwhile, City are 6/5 to retain their Premier League crown this season, with the men from Manchester 1/2 to lift the League Cup and 7/2 to triumph in the Champions League.

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Guardiola urges more improvement

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says that his team have more improvement in them as they moved nearer to Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.

The current champions moved back to within four points of Jurgen Klopp's side at the top after a comfortable 3-0 win at managerless Huddersfield.

Danilo gave City the lead and two goals in two minutes in the second half from Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane sealed the win that leaves the Terriers still rooted to the bottom of the table.

Having lost manager David Wagner in midweek Mark Hudson took temporary charge but couldn't prevent a ninth defeat in 10 league games that leaves them bottom, 10 points from safety.

City meanwhile have interest at the other end of the table but Guardiola is demanding more from his side as they seek to chase Liverpool and defend their title.

He said after the game: "The way we played we didn't deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future. We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it's difficult. They defended deep and man to man.

"What we have done so far has been incredible, in the league and the Carabao Cup. We have an incredible number of points. But this game can teach us and show what we have to do to improve."

City are in midweek action in the Carabao Cup and have surely guaranteed a place in the final, leading League One Burton 9-0 after the semi-final first leg. City are 1/2 to win the cup.

They are also still in the FA Cup and are at home to fellow Premier League side Burnley in round four on Saturday. They are 1/10 to win the game with the Clarets 22/1 and Sean Dyche's side are 8/1 to force a replay.

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Guardiola wary of Terriers

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says his side will have to adapt to whatever Huddersfield Town throw their way, as they prepare to face the managerless West Yorkshire outfit this weekend.

Town decided to part company with manager David Wagner after a difficult start to the season and now the Terriers are in the hunt for a new man to try and turn the club's fortunes around.

Guardiola knows his side could be up against a new-look Huddersfield side when they meet at the John Smith's Stadium on Sunday and his players will have to be ready for whatever comes their way.

He said: "It's a little bit of a problem really because we don't know. Even when you have just one game for a manager you can have an idea.

"Of course we have some info about what he's done at the under-23 (level), but it's completely different.

"We don't know how he will play, what system, whether they will play long or short balls, whether they will go four in the back, five in the back, one striker or two strikers, high pressing or low pressing we don't know anything exactly.

"We will have to immediately adapt after five or 10 minutes. The players will have to understand exactly what is going to happen with the game and adapt as quickly as possible."

City are 1/7 to win, 8/1 to draw and 22/1 to lose against Huddersfield.

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Pep searching for midfield option

Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola says his club are continuing to scour the international marketplace for a high-quality holding midfielder.

The Citizens lost back-to-back Premier League games either side of Christmas when the vastly experienced Fernandinho was absent due to injury, with the importance of the Brazilian being shown in the reverses against Crystal Palace and Leicester City.

Since his return City have won three in a row in the league, including a 2-1 victory over table-toppers Liverpool, with Guardiola well aware that a reliable second option in central midfield is needed sooner rather than later.

He told reporters: "I think with the way we play we need a guy who has of course physicality, is quick in the head and (good at) reading where our spaces to attack are.

"As many things as he can do, the better. I know it is not easy to find one player who can do everything.

"(You have to deal with) the price, the agents and the club if you want to buy the players, so we will see.

"There are three or four we are looking for. We are searching for that position."

The Citizens are in action on Sunday this weekend, when they head across the Pennines to take on rock-bottom Huddersfield Town, who were beaten 6-1 at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season.

City are available at 1/6 to win on Sunday and are 5/1 to triumph by a 2-0 scoreline, with the visitors 8/15 to keep a clean sheet.

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Silva makes City quadruple claim

Bernardo Silva firmly believes that Manchester City can target the quadruple this season with key players returning from injury.

The 24-year-old Portugal international moved to the Etihad Stadium from Monaco in summer 2017 and made 53 appearances in all competitions last term as City won the Premier League and Carabao Cup.

Silva is on course to match that number of outings this term as Pep Guardiola's men look to defend last season's titles and add the FA Cup and Champions League to them.

Guardiola claimed it was "impossible" for his side to win the quadruple earlier in the week, but Silva insists that City can target success on four fronts as the squad is now almost at full strength.

David Silva, Fernandinho, Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan are back in action after spells out, while longer term injury victim Kevin De Bruyne is also now back in the fold.

Left-back Benjamin Mendy is expected to return from knee surgery in the near future, along with goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, with Vincent Kompany potentially ready to make his comeback against Huddersfield this weekend.

City sit four points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool in the table, have booked their place in next month's Carabao Cup final after their 9-0 semi-final first leg win against Burton Albion.

They will face Burnley on home soil in round four of the FA Cup later this month and have a two-legged Champions League last-16 tie against German Bundesliga side Schalke from mid-February.

Looking ahead, Silva said: "It feels like we have all the squad, which is important because we need all of them.

"It is good finally to be back together.

"Of course until this moment of the season we have had so many injured players, we never played with the whole squad. To have almost the whole squad available is fantastic for us and it is very good to try and go for all the competitions."

City are 50/1 to win the Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League this season, while they are available at 2/1 to emulate last season's league and League Cup double.

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Guardiola urges City focus

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged his side not to pay attention to Liverpool's fixtures after the Citizens secured a 3-0 win over Wolves on Monday.

With Tottenham losing against Manchester United over the weekend, the Premier League title race is starting to look like a straight shootout between City and the Reds.

A brace from Gabriel Jesus and an own goal from Conor Coady ensured City claimed the spoils on Monday night.

With four points between themselves and frontrunners Liverpool, Guardiola has urged his players to focus on their own games and not worry about Jurgen Klopp's side.

"We can't do anything about Liverpool's games, they belong to them," he said.

"The only way to put that pressure on is by being there and maybe one day they fail.

"I say to them don't look at the calendar for Liverpool's games, forget about it. Because normally when that happens you lose your games."

City are next in action on Sunday when they make the trip across the Pennines to face a Huddersfield Town side who will be without manager David Wagner after he left the West Yorkshire outfit on Monday.

City are 6/5 to win the Premier League, while Liverpool are 3/4 to claim the title.

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Premier League: City Cruise Past 10-Man Wolves

Manchester City 3-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

When Willy Boly reflects on the Premier League 2018/19 campaign won’t forget the matches against Manchester City in a hurry.

The Frenchman scored his first goal in the top flight against the champions in August.

In this return fixture he was sent off for the first time in his Wolverhampton career.

Two firsts for Boly, one to remember, one to put to one side.

Certainly, his 19th minute dismissal for a reckless lunge on Bernardo Silva realistically ended this as a contest.

Highlights of the game

The majority of us followers expected City to win this one – especially after 16 goals in their last two matches – and they were already in front before Boly’s moment of madness.

Centre back Aymeric Laporte, who also scored in the meeting between these sides earlier in the season, played one of the passes of the season – certainly one of the Premier League 2019 highlights from a defender –to dissect the visitors defence and the rampaging Leroy Sane found Gabriel Jesus who tapped in from close range.

The warning signs were ominous at this point – City had lost none of the previous 19 Premier League games in which Jesus has scored in (won 18, drawn one).

The warning signs were even clearer moments later when Boly was dismissed and suddenly Wolves’ difficult task was made even harder.

The red card clearly riled some fans of league leaders Liverpool, naturally fearful of City and irked by a decision not to send-off City skipper Vincent Kompany for a similar challenge in their recent top of the table clash when Pep Guardiola’s men closed the gap at the summit.

While inconsistency of officials naturally riles, it was hard to argue with referee Craig Pawson’s decision.

Jesus was in the wars himself a short time later, colliding with a post when sliding in and the sporting reaction of the Wolves players in quickly calling for the physio was good to see.

Jesus did get on the score sheet again before the break, however.

Shortly after Diogo Jota gave City a warning, Ryan Bennett tripped Raheem Sterling in the box and Jesus converted from 12 yards.

Will Gabriel Jesus' brace be one of Premier League 2019 highlights for Manchester City?

Gabriel Jesus celebrating his opener against Wolverhampton Wanderers

The sight of Kevin De Bruyne replacing David Silva and Sergio Aguero coming on for Jesus in the second half highlighted the strength in depth at Guardiola’s disposal and the home side managed the remainder of the contest against plucky opponents without over exerting themselves.

The former had an impact 12 minutes from time as he floated in a cross which took two deflections, the latter from Conor Coady before nestling into the net to seal a comfortable night’s work and reduce Liverpool’s lead to four points.

It said much for Wolves’ progress this season under Nuno Espirito Santos that this was their biggest defeat of the campaign.

This was too much of an ask though, especially once they were reduced to 10 men.

The Premier League 2019 betting odds are fascinating. Liverpool have a healthy lead but the title race continues.

Key statistics

Jesus now has seven goals in three games.

This is City’s first clean sheet in a Premier League home match for seven games.

David Silva has now appeared for City more times (267)in the Premier League than any other player for the club.

Since the start of the 2015-16 season, only Jamie Vardy (12) and Wilfried Zaha (12) have won more penalties in the Premier League than Sterling (11).

City have won 13 of their past 15 home league fixtures.

They are unbeaten in 35 Premier League home matches against promoted opposition since a 2-0 defeat by Reading in February 2007 (won 31, drawn four).

This was the second successive game that Bennett has conceded a penalty.

Wolves have the best record among the clubs seventh or lower against the Premier League’s established top six, earning nine points (won two, drawn three, lost three).

Wolves are now winless in seven top-flight away matches against City stretching back to a 3-2 victory at Maine Road in December 1979.

What’s next?

After four away home games on the bounce, it’s two away on the spin now for City.

They travel to managerless Huddersfield on Sunday (January 20) before the second leg of their League Cup semi-final at Burton a week on Wednesday.

Burnley are the visitors to the Etihad Stadium in the fourth round of the FA Cup on January 26 before they conclude a hectic January with a trip to Newcastle (January 29).

Wolves meet Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday and finish the month with a home match against West Ham with an FA Cup fourth round tie against Shrewsbury or Stoke City sandwiched in between.

 

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No new faces at City

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola claims he is unlikely to bring any new signings into the club in this January transfer window.

City usually do their business in the summer, but there were suggestions that Guardiola might be tempted to have a foray in the market as the reigning champions are currently trailing Liverpool by seven points in the fight for this season's title.

The gap could be cut back to four if City defeat Wolves in the Monday night showdown at the Etihad Stadium, while Guardiola has virtually ruled out bringing in reinforcements.

He said: "Sometimes we have done it but normally when we want to buy a player it's for the next four, five six years and normally these kinds of situations don't happen in this transfer window.

"For loan players maybe it can happen, for a short time, but I don't think the big clubs buy players for just six months and important players are not sold in that period.

"If you have no injuries and you are satisfied, as in our case, with the squad we have, we decided going well, going bad, (we stick) with the same players we started the season."

City, who are 13/10 to win the Premier League, are priced at 1/6 to defeat Wolves, while their opponents are available at 18/1 to win and the darw is 15/2.

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Premier League: City Go in Search of Another Goal Glut

Manchester City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Here’s a quiz question for us fans.

Has a team ever come into a Premier League match after scoring 16 goals in two matches?

I don’t know the answer for sure, but I seriously doubt it.

Yes, Manchester City’s demolitions have come against lower league opposition in both domestic cup competitions.

But, fresh after their key league victory over league leaders Liverpool, City are a team in form regardless of the standard of opponents.

Talking Points

They will need to be, too, as they trail the Merseysiders by seven points going into this encounter after they extended their lead with a victory at Brighton.

That means City know anything other than victory against a side which held them earlier in the campaign will not suffice.

This is a fourth consecutive home match for the reigning champions, and Nuno Espirito Santo’s men will be on a high themselves after seeing off Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo hopes to defy the odds and beat Manchester City in upcoming Premier League match

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo celebrates with Ruben Neves following their FA Cup victory against Liverpool

That result, ultimately, could give Liverpool a big advantage in the title race as City have a much more heavily congested run of fixtures over the next month.

The Citizens could be without two of their most influential figures in this one with Sergio Aguero, who has scored 14 goals in 22 appearances this season, suffering from illness over the past 10 days, while skipper Vincent Kompany struggling with a muscle problem.

Wolves, meanwhile, appear to have a near full-strength side, not that home boss Pep Guardiola can complain at any of his own possible absences given the depth of the squad at his disposal.

City naturally are firm favourites and they have actually won five of their last six home top-flight meetings with Wolves (drawn one) since a 2-3 defeat in December 1979.

In contrast, Wolves have picked up one win in their last 10 matches with City in all competitions (drawn three, lost six) and that was a 2-1 win at Molineux in the top flight in October 2010.

With the January transfer window in full swing, both clubs are being linked to a number of targets this month, even if there seems little substance in many of the rumours.

That also includes a far-fetched Premier League 2019 news which suggests City could snap up Barcelona frontman Ousmane Dembele while, in the same report, they are linked to Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, who netted the FA Cup winner against Liverpool.

Santo says he won’t be rushed into signing new players. Fresh from success against the second-best team in the country, he probably has enough on his plate as he prepares his side for a trip to the top team in the country.

History

Historically, these sides can’t be separated.

City have triumphed in 47 of their meetings, with Wolves successful in 46 of the contests and the other 25 ending as draws.

As well as their league draw in August, the sides drew in the League Cup last season when City needed a penalty shoot-out to progress at the expense of the then-Championship outfit.

The last time they met at the Etihad Stadium in the top flight was in October 2011 when Edin Dzeko, Aleksandar Kolarov and Adam Johnson were on target in a 3-1 win.

City had triumphed 5-2 at Molineux days earlier, too, when Dzeko and Johnson again found the net in the League Cup.

You have to go back to August 1999 for the last time Wolves won on City turf.

It was Division One (now Championship) and a 1-0 win at Maine Road.

The scorer that day – a young Irishman by the name of Robbie Keane as he ruined City’s first game back in the division after they had spent one season in the third tier of English football.

How times have changed!

Betting Tip

??
Manchester City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers Total Goal 4-6 @ 2.53
January 15, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The Premier League 2019 betting odds are as firmly entrenched towards one side as you’d expect.

City are overwhelming favourites to see off the spirited Wolves with 1X2 odds @ 1.19 and Wolves are far out @ 16.50. A repeat of the draw earlier in the season attracts odds of @ 5.80.

Asian Handicap odds also point to a home success with something to spare.

The price on City -2.25 @ 2.21 compares to Wolves +1.75 @ 2.29.

Likewise, over 3.50 goals @ 2.31 is not as generous as you may expect.

If the correct score is your preferred route, then a second 1-1 draw of the campaign would pay out @ 14.50.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Guardiola issues Burton warning

Pep Guardiola has vowed that Manchester City will take their Carabao Cup semi-final second leg seriously despite booking their final place with a 9-0 first leg thrashing of Burton.

The City boss watched as Gabriel Jesus bagged four goals, while Kevin de Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez were also on the scoresheet at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday as City ran riot against Nigel Clough's League One side.

The holders still have a dead rubber of a second leg to come at the Pirelli Stadium on Wednesday, 23rd January, before the final against Wembley on 24th February.

And, while Guardiola accepts that City will definitely be facing either Tottenham or Chelsea at the national stadium next month, he insisted that his players will be looking to win at Burton.

The Spanish tactician said: "The result was good and of course we are already in the final but we have to play the second leg. We will take it seriously. Burton have had an incredible tournament. They have to be so proud, they did so well.

"Strikers need to score goals, Gabriel Jesus has had chances in the last few games and today he has scored. He is so important.

"It is not easy to play this type of game against a lower team. We made good runs in behind and we took it seriously. After the second and third goal it was easier, we were faster and quicker."

City are now 1/2 to win the Carabao Cup, while Tottenham are priced at 3/1 and the Chelsea are available at 5/1.

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