Guardiola issues Jesus apology

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has apologised to Gabriel Jesus for not allowing him to take the penalty in their 0-0 draw against Liverpool on Sunday.

With regular spot-kick taker Sergio Aguero substituted, Jesus was eager to take the late penalty against the Reds at Anfield.

However, the message came from the bench that Riyad Mahrez should take it, before the Algerian fired his effort over the crossbar.

Guardiola has admitted it was a mistake on his part and has since said sorry to the Brazilian forward Jesus.

He said: "During the training sessions every day I see Mahrez taking the penalties and it gave me a lot of confidence. It will be good experience for him, next time it will go in.

"Jesus wanted to (take it). I apologise. It was my decision."

The result leaves Man City at the top of the Premier League table but only on goal difference ahead of both Chelsea and Liverpool.

Next up for City is a league encounter with Burnley on Saturday, before Guardiola’s side travel to Shakhtar Donetsk on 23rd October.

City are 4/6 to win the Premier League this season, while the Citizens are 9/2 to claim the Champions League crown.

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Stalemate at Anfield

The top of the table clash between Liverpool and Manchester City ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Chelsea's win earlier in the day put them temporarily top but the winner at Anfield would have replaced them.

As a result of the goalless draw City go back to the top on goal difference but the champions had a golden opportunity to claim all three points, Riyad Mahrez missing a late penalty.

Mohamed Salah had the first chance of the game, shooting wide after just three minutes but, despite Liverpool edging the opening exchanges, it was far from the anticipated classic.

The home side were hampered by James Milner's withdrawal after half an hour, the midfielder, who has been in such good form for the Reds, hobbling off to be replaced by Naby Keita.

The Anfield crowd were struggling to create the atmosphere befitting a genuine top of the table clash with neither side creating much in front of goal.

The second half began in a similar fashion with chances few and far between. City did have a penalty appeal turned down when Virgil van Dijk was ruled not have handled the ball in the area, then Mahrez showed good skill and control to get a shot in that went narrowly wide.

At the other end Salah also had a shot, the first on target in the game, but it was comfortably saved by Ederson.

The game entered its latter stages with both sides looking happy to collect a point only for City to have a golden late chance to snatch all three.

With just four minutes of normal time remaining they were awarded a spot-kick after Van Dijk fouled Leroy Sane in the area.

Mahrez took the penalty but it was a poor kick, going over the bar to the relief of the majority of the crowd.

Mahrez has now missed five of his last eight Premier League penalties and his latest miss means that the points were shared and both teams, along with Chelsea, remain unbeaten and go into the international break on 20 points from eight games.

Both teams are next in action on 20th October, Liverpool travelling to Huddersfield and City at home to Burnley.

City are 4/6 to win the Premier League title with Liverpool 9/4 and Chelsea 9/1.

Liverpool are 12/1 to not finish in the top four while City are 28/1.

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Premier League: Mahrez Penalty Miss gifts Pool a Point

Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City

It was a tight game between the Premier League’s best two sides and it always looked likely to be decided by a single goal, but the goal never came.

On 85 minutes Riyad Mahrez had the game in his hands when he prepared to take a penalty. But he skied it and blew City’s chance to go clear at the top.

Billed as the Premier League showdown this game promised to give goals, but Liverpool looked tired and City just couldn’t turn their superiority into a win.

The earlier Premier league 2018 results from this weekend saw the other ‘big six’ teams all winning, Spurs and Manchester United narrowly, Chelsea at a stroll and Arsenal with a swagger. And now only two points separate the top five.

Highlights of the game

In a hectic start Riyad Mahrez tried to get in behind the Liverpool defence but was flagged narrowly offside, then the first chance of the game came to Mo Salah, but the Egyptian screwed his shot wide.

Jurgen Klopp made two changes to his defence, introducing Joe Gomez at right back and giving Dejan Lovren his first start of the season. But Raheem Sterling gave Gomez a torrid time from the off, and the two defenders got away with a real scare on 20 minutes. Gomez messed up a clearance which fell to Sergio Aguero and Lovren appeared to kick the Argentine as he set himself to shoot, but referee Martin Atkinson controversially gave a corner.

The Reds were forced into an early substitution when the injured James Milner was replaced by Naby Keita, but Liverpool struggled to get into the game. While there were few attempts on goal, Manchester City stroked the ball around in comfort while Liverpool chased the shadows. But despite City’s fluent approach play, we reached half time without a single shot on target.

It was a brilliant goal from Daniel Sturridge that earned the Reds a vital point away to Chelsea last week; but Klopp started with his big three up front, Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane but only Salah had had the merest sniff of a goal.

Mohamed Salah's reaction after missing a good opportunity to score against Manchester City in the Premier League

Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah gestures after missing a good chance to score against Manchester City

Manchester City continued to control the play in the second half and Riyad Mahrez came close, turning Andy Robertson inside out before shooting narrowly wide. The game began to come alive as Mahrez had another chance but this time Alisson collected his low shot.

Pep Guardiola played his first big card, bringing off Sergio Aguero to give Gabriel Jesus his chance. But as Liverpool made their first really fast break Salah beat the offside trap only to blast his shot way over. Then Klopp gave Sturridge his chance, hooking Firmino with 20 minutes to go.

Bernardo Silva drove City forward with a powerful run and when the ball fell to Mahrez, Alisson saved well, low at his near post. The Lovren looked in trouble again when he stuck a hand in Jesus’ face but again, the referee was unmoved.

As the game became more stretched Gomez crossed for Sturridge, but the sub couldn’t get enough pace on his header to trouble Ederson.

And then came the big moment. Leroy Sane outpaced Virgil van Dijk and the big Dutchman tripped the winger. With Sergio Aguero already subbed, up stepped Riyad Mahrez and he nearly hoofed his spot kick into the second tier of the stand!

Gabriel Jesus wanted to take the penalty but Mahrez had pushed him away.

Oh dear.

Key statistics

After a tight first half, things opened up a little in the second and we could, and should have seen some goals.

But Aguero’s substitution had two effects. Firstly he has failed to score at Anfield in ten appearances. And secondly Riyad Mahrez has now missed four of his last six penalties.

Add to that Liverpool are now unbeaten in 18 home matches against Manchester City and those facts becomes all the more shocking for City fans. Meanwhile, the Reds have kept a clean sheet in each of their last nine Premier League games at Anfield.

What’s next?

According to Premier league 2018 odds the title is likely to be decided between Liverpool and Manchester City and this result doesn’t change anything.

Liverpool lacked their customary dynamism in the Champions League defeat to Napoli and appeared to be well off the pace again here. Chelsea then Napoli and Manchester City is one heck of a week. There are no easy games in the Premier League, but a trip to Huddersfield is as near as it gets. The Terriers are yet to win a game this season.

The Sky Blues host Burnley after the break. Sean Dyche’s team has looked weary itself after its early season Europa League exploits, but has picked up seven points from the last three games, and is one of a few teams to take a point off the Champions last term.

A word of advice us fans… don’t bet on a repeat of that!



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Firmino ‘dreams big’ under Klopp

Roberto Firmino makes no secret of the fact Liverpool are "dreaming big" this season, though he warns they must "stay grounded" to achieve their aims.

The Reds host Premier League champions Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, with the pair unbeaten and locked together on 19 points after seven games, Pep Guardiola's side enjoying top billing only on goal difference.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 17 home matches against Manchester City in all competitions. They ended City's unbeaten Premier League run with a 4-3 win in January and blew their visitors away during a 3-0 Champions League success in the spring.

Klopp's side are also unbeaten in 24 Premier League home matches and Firmino, 13/8 to score against Man City on Sunday, says they have big aspirations this season.

"We've been doing well, we made a good start under him and we're dreaming big. We want to keep working hard and win trophies," said the Brazilian forward.

"We've only been working together for three years, but it seems like it's been longer.

"I've been learning a lot from Klopp ever since he came in. He's brought everything together and got that across to the team. We're doing that well now."

Liverpool are 6/4 to win at Anfield, with City 15/8 to end their 15-year winless streak at the Merseyside ground and the draw priced at 13/5.

Firmino described the atmosphere during the January win over City as 'incredible', though he knows Liverpool must try and manage their ambitions properly, particularly at this early stage of the season.

"The adrenaline, combined with the atmosphere on the pitch during such special games, is always incredible," the forward added.

"The club is always aiming to win trophies and competitions. We've made a very good start, but we have to stay grounded, because the season has only just started.

"We're taking it step by step, trying to play well and win games. We're just looking ahead and will see where that takes us."

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Liverpool look for big response

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold says he and his team-mates have an opportunity to bounce back when they take on Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday.

The 19-year-old England international was part of the Reds team who were beaten 1-0 in the Champions League at Napoli in midweek, with the Merseysiders now without a win in their last three games in all competitions.

However, an opportunity to take on the reigning Premier League champions is one which Alexander-Arnold believes will help his side re-focus as they bid tog et back on track.

He told his club's official website: "I think the best teams bounce back from a defeat and that's what we'll be looking to do.

"There was a bump in the road on Wednesday, but we've got to keep trying to push forward and gather as many points as we can.

"We know Sunday is going to be difficult against a top team and the current champions, so we'll have a lot of work to do, but we're all looking forward to the game.

"You want the games to come thick and fast, especially when you're disappointed by one – you want another one to come straight away.

"I don't think there is a better opportunity than to go and put in a performance against Manchester City."

Liverpool have won their last six home games against the Citizens in all competitions and are 31/20 to make it seven on Sunday.

The draw is priced at 13/5, with a 2-1 victory for the Merseysiders available at 10/1.

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Silva wary of even better Reds

Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva has warned that on Sunday his side will face a Liverpool outfit who are even better than they were last season.

The Reds won this Premier League fixture 4-3 last season to inflict a first league defeat of the season on the Citizens, who went on to be crowned champions by a massive 19-point margin ahead of Manchester United – who were the only other team to secure a three-point return against City.

Liverpool also won both legs of the Champions League quarter-final tie between themselves and City, with those results clearly a motivating factor for Silva and his team-mates.

The Portugal international told Sky Sports: "They bought a few players. I think they're better this season, as the results tell. They've won all their games in the Premier League apart from one.

"They're an aggressive team, they're doing well. We beat them at home last season, but at Anfield we weren't able to play well enough to beat them. They were better than us, in my opinion.

"But we'll try again, knowing that they have a very good squad, but we will go with 100 per cent, so we can try to get the three points."

Citizens head coach Pep Guardiola suggested at his pre-match briefing that playmaker Kevin De Bruyne could make a return to action after being sidelined for nearly two months by knee ligament damage.

City can be backed at 9/5 to win at Anfield on Sunday and are 10/1 to secure a 2-1 victory, with the men from Manchester currently priced at 8/11 to retain their Premier League crown.

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KDB close to Citizens return

Pep Guardiola has raised the prospect of playmaker Kevin De Bruyne returning after injury to play some part in the Premier League clash with Liverpool on Sunday.

Belgium international De Bruyne has been sidelined for nearly two months due to knee ligament damage sustained during training, but Citizens head coach Guardiola says his player has been involved in training this week.

That has raised the prospect of the forward being utilised against the Reds at Anfield, although Guardiola has vowed to be careful on bringing De Bruyne back into the fold too quickly.

He told reporters: "He made a part of the training session today (Friday), he is training with us. We will see tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Guardiola has played down talk of Reds head coach Jurgen Klopp having something of a hoodoo over his rival, with the German having overseen seven victories against sides coached by the Spaniard over the years.

"I don't play against Jurgen, I play against Liverpool, we play against Liverpool," Guardiola added. "Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. Sometimes we win competitions, sometimes we lose competitions.

"He's an excellent manager. I have a lot of respect for the way his teams play, for how proactive they are, but it's not about me having to beat him."

Liverpool claimed three wins out of four meetings between the two teams last season, including victories in both legs of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

The hosts are 31/20 to secure a win again on Sunday, with City 9/5 to take all three points and 10/1 to do so by a 2-1 scoreline.

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Klopp taking nothing for granted

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp says his side will have to be 'spot-on' if they are to secure a fourth consecutive victory over Manchester City.

The Reds have already seen off the Citizens three times this year, winning a Premier League clash at Anfield 4-3, before triumphing in both legs of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

However, Klopp is not reading too much into those recent results, as he prepares his players for a league showdown with the reigning champions on Merseyside on Sunday.

He told reporters: "It is a home game against Manchester City and that is a tough one. Last year they were really special and I expect them to be like this again.

"Teams that play like them can lose focus, but it never happened to City last year, so they have all my respect.

"We have to be spot-on and really be our best to keep them away from our goal and create chances. It will be hard work, no problem with that, everybody knows it."

Liverpool can be backed at 31/20 to win the game at Anfield on Sunday, with the draw priced at 13/5, while a final scoreline of 2-2 is available at 11/1.

Meanwhile, Klopp is waiting to see whether Naby Keita will be able to play a part against City, with the midfielder having needed hospital treatment for a back problem after being replaced during the midweek Champions League loss at Napoli.

He added: "He had a back spasm. He's in today, but whether he can do something on the training ground I don’t know.

"We have to see the doctor again and we'll make a decision. Tomorrow we'll have to see. It didn't look to serious, so there is a chance he can play, but we don't know."

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Reds sweat on Keita verdict

Liverpool are waiting to discover the extent of the back injury sustained by midfielder Naby Keita during the 1-0 Champions League defeat at Napoli.

The 23-year-old summer signing had to be replaced just before the 20-minute mark in Naples, and was subsequently taken to a local hospital for checks and tests.

A statement from the Reds confirmed: "Naby Keita was taken to hospital in Naples on Wednesday evening during the first half of the Champions League fixture with Napoli.

"The midfielder started the game at the Stadio San Paolo, but was substituted inside the opening 20 minutes and replaced after alerting the team’s medical staff to back pain.

"He was transferred to a local hospital with the club doctor, where he underwent a number of precautionary health checks to assess his condition."

Meanwhile, Reds head coach Jurgen Klopp, who now has to prepare his players for a Sunday showdown with Premier League champions Manchester City, accepted that his side had not been at their best in Italy.

He added: "It was an interesting looking group before we started and it's still interesting now.

"We want to play better than we did tonight, but even if we don't play brilliantly, we want a result. Tonight we weren't as good as we could be.

"We didn't perform and that's how football works – against a good side in the Champions League, you lose. That's happened and nothing more."

Liverpool are priced at 13/8 to defeat the Citizens at Anfield on Sunday, with the draw available at 13/5, while the Reds are 10/1 to secure a 2-1 victory.

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Happy days for Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said he enjoyed one of his happiest days in charge when his side came from behind to win 2-1 at Hoffenheim in the Champions League.

The Citizens went into the Group F encounter needing a result following their shock 2-1 defeat against Lyon at the Etihad Stadium in their opening game last month.

However, they were trailing after just 44 seconds when Ishak Belfodil fired the German Bundesliga outfit in front.

Sergio Aguero responded quickly for City with an equaliser on seven minutes and David Silva pounced on a mistake by defender Stefan Posch to score an 87th-minute winner.

Lyon's 2-2 home draw against Shakhtar Donestk means City are just a point off top spot with four games remaning and Guardiola was delighted afterwards.

He said: "After one minute we conceded and it's not easy, but after that we fought, as always, as a team.

"The previous two seasons were not simple, but we qualified with games left and this time it's not going to happen.

"Maybe for the future it's going to be good to live these kind of situations. You cannot go through to quarters, semis, without living these situations. That's why today is one of the happiest days I've had in this club because it's going to help us."

Guardiola, who refused to discuss the match officials afterwards despite being unhappy with a couple of decisions during the game, also singled out Aguero for praise afterwards.

The Spaniard said: "He is one of the best players I have trained in my life.

"I am a lucky guy to have many of them who are top players at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and he is in that list.

"In terms of mentality, I love the players who in the bad moments step forward and say 'I am here guys' and he is one of them.

"I am so happy for him. He deserves all of my respect."

City are now 1/4 to win Group F, while Lyon are priced at 5/1.

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