City halt gallant Newport

Manchester City eventually brought an end to the gallant FA Cup run of plucky Newport County as they ran out 4-1 winners at Rodney Parade.

The Welsh minnows walked away with their heads held high however, having held the Premier League champions scoreless for 51 minutes.

Indeed, Newport came with inches of sensationally grabbing the lead in the first half, despite being ranked more than 80 places below Man City in the footballing ladder.

A long throw from Mickey Demetriou bounced all the way through to the back post and Tyreeq Bakinson stooped to head goal-ward from five-yards, only for Ederson to produce a sublime one-handed stop down to his right, on a night when Gordon Banks was recalled before the game began.

Leroy Sane's shot on 51 minutes flew straight at goalkeeper Joe Day, cannoning into his face and leaving him with a bloodied nose before it looped over the goal line to give Pep Guardiola's men the lead.

Phil Foden appeared to have made the win safe on 75 minutes but Newport's FA Cup specialist Padraig Amond took advantage of some hesitant defending on 88 minutes, toe-poking over Ederson from 20-yards to briefly put the home side back in the contest.

City responded within 71 seconds as Foden grabbed his second and Riyad Mahrez added a fourth deep into stoppage time.

Brighton are also into the last-eight after overcoming Derby County 2-1 at the Amex Stadium, while Millwall continued their FA Cup progress with a 1-0 win away at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday. The winning trio join Watford in the hat for the quarter-finals.

Manchester City are 1/1 to win the FA Cup this season, with Watford 12/1 and Brighton now 16/1 to hoist the trophy at Wembley.

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Guardiola wary of Newport

Pep Guardiola has admitted that League Two side Newport County are "taller and stronger" than his Manchester City side ahead of their FA Cup fifth-round tie.

The City chief is preparing his City squad for an eye-opening encounter on Saturday evening as they will face a buoyant Exiles side on a poor pitch in front of their own fans at Rodney Parade.

Premier League side Leicester and Championship promotion-chasers Middlesbrough have already been defeated in South Wales in the FA Cup this season, while Newport beat Leeds and drew with Tottenham on home soil 12 months ago.

Newport boss Michael Flynn claimed it would be the biggest FA Cup shock of all time if his team managed to dump the reigning Premier League champions out of the competition.

However, Guardiola, who watched his side lost at League One Wigan at the same stage last season, is adamant that "anything can happen" and insisted that his players will fully respect their opponents.

The Spanish tactician said: "What they do, they do it really well. We've watched as many games as possible to understand what they do. We respect them a lot.

"We are going to suffer because they are taller and stronger than us. In some areas, they are better than us.

"We have to try to bring our game in the way we are stronger than them. Which team controls these areas, or brings their own game, in that moment will have the advantage to go through.

"If we just expect, because they are in a lower division, it will be easy, we would make a big mistake.

"We will take it seriously and we know how tough it will be, from the first minute until the end."

On the state of Newport's pitch, Guardiola, who will again be without Vincent Kompany, Claudio Bravo and Benjamin Mendy, added: "We'll see what the pitch is like when we arrive. If you cannot play (the normal game), you have to play longer or quicker – but I don't know. We are going to see.

"You don't win absolutely anything complaining about that. When we play away, they are the owners of their stadium and they can play the pitch what it is."

City are 1/20 to see off Newport, while the giantkillers are priced at 33/1 to secure their biggest scalp yet and they are 14/1 to hold the Premier League leaders to a draw and secure a replay at the Etihad Stadium.

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City hit Chelsea for six

Manchester City moved back to the top of the Premier League table in emphatic fashion, beating Chelsea 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

City were 4-0 up before half an hour, exposing the visitors defensive frailties to move back above Liverpool on goal difference.

Chelsea began the game by attempting to press high up the pitch but their tactics were undermined within the first five minutes, City taking the lead.

It was the recalled Kevin De Bruyne who began the move with a quick free kick which found Bernardo Silva and, with the Chelsea defence failing to react, crossed for Raheem Sterling to pounce and turn the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Sergio Aguero should have scored shortly afterwards but, after being set up by Silva, shot wide with the goal gaping.

However, Aguero and City weren't denied for long and he doubled City's lead on 13 minutes, Oleksandr Zinchenko losing possession but the ball fell to the Argentine who shot into the top corner from about 25 yards out.

All Chelsea's plans were in tatters and City continued to pour forward to test a stretched defence and were rewarded on 19 minutes, Aguero getting a rather more scruffy goal but again Chelsea failed to clear the ball from their own area.

With less than half an hour of the game gone it was 4-0 when Ilkay Gundogan took advantage of a poor clearance from Antonio Rudiger and shot home.

City made it five about 10 minutes into the second half, Aguero completing his hat-trick from the penalty spot. Cesar Azpilicueta was ruled to have brought Sterling down in the area and the striker made no mistake from the spot to compound Chelsea's misery.

City have a heavy fixture list in coming weeks, taking on Newport in the FA Cup, Schalke in the Champions League and Chelsea again in the EFL Cup final and Pep Guardiola made changes with those games in mind.

The game already won he took off Aguero and De Bruyne, replaced by Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez.

It looked as if City were winding down but Guardiola recently suggested the Premier League title race could come down to goal difference and City scored another before the end to be nine goals ahead of Liverpool, Sterling getting on the end of another excellent moving involving David Silva and Zinchenko.

That completed the scoring and City, having played a game more than Liverpool, are back above them at the top of the Premier League.

City are 8/11 to win the Premier League with Liverpool 6/5.

City are 13/8 to reach the final of the Champions League this season with Liverpool 4/1 and Manchester United 14/1.

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Pep ponders De Bruyne’s role

Pep Guardiola insists Kevin De Bruyne is not guaranteed a place in Manchester City's starting line-up for Sunday's home clash against Chelsea.

The Belgium international has endured an injury-ravaged campaign but came on as a late substitute in the midweek victory at Everton.

However, Guardiola is unsure whether to recall the 27-year-old midfielder to his side for the game against Maurizio Sarri's team.

The City boss said when asked whether De Bruyne would start on Sunday: "Maybe, yeah, it's quite possible, of course it's possible. Every player knows, maybe it is quite possible to play him, maybe it is quite possible not to.

"In the end we judge the players for absolutely who we believe they are, but there are top forms and there are moments when you are not in better condition.

"There are moments when the other team-mates are in better conditions than them. In football what you have done is the past, you have to do it again."

The victory at Everton moved City back to the top of the Premier League for the first time since December and they are now available at 4/5 to win the title for the second campaign in a row. De Bruyne is 9/1 to score the first goal against Chelsea while City are 6/1 to win the match from behind.

Guardiola hails Citizens recovery

Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola heaped praise on his players after a 2-0 win at Everton took them back to the top of the Premier League standings.

The Citizens are ahead of Liverpool on goal difference, although they have played one more game than the Merseysiders, with Spurs in third place – five points adrift having played a game less than City.

Just over a month ago City beat Liverpool 2-1 to avoid dropping a possible ten points off the pace and Guardiola is delighted with the work of his squad in recent weeks.

He told reporters: "The reality is we could have been ten points behind one month ago when we played Liverpool. A few days ago we could have been seven points behind, now we are top of the league.

"The lesson is never give up. That is a lesson for all athletes. Try to win the games, because life can change immediately.

"There are a lot of contenders to fight for the title and there are a lot of games to go. We will drop points and hopefully our opponents will also.

"We came from 100 points and champions last season and then we are in a situation where we could have given up, but it didn't happen.

"These players have shown incredible desire and performances for the last two years. How could I question them?"

The Citizens are now priced at 8/11 to retain their Premier League title, with Liverpool available at 5/4 and Tottenham 25/1.

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Premier League: City Back at the Top

Everton 0-2 Manchester City

Manchester City returned to the summit of the Premier League after an absence of almost two months, thanks to a 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park.

Aymeric Laporte struck in first half injury time, and then super-sub Gabriel Jesus added a second at the death, to grab all three points for the Sky Blues as they took over from Liverpool at the top.

Everton boss Marco Silva has been coming under increasing pressure following six defeats in nine games, and he made five changes to the team which lost to Wolves at the weekend. In a bold move he left out experienced and key players Seamus Coleman and Gylfi Sigurdsson, and they started on the bench along with striker Richarlison.

But in the end City won more comfortably than the score-line suggests as the Toffees rarely came close to breaching the visitors’ defence.

Highlights of the game

Pep Guardiola made just two changes and one of his incomers, Leroy Sane, had the first shot on goal, firing just wide from a third minute corner. And as City turned up the pressure they twice came very close to going ahead in the first 20 minutes. First Aymeric Laporte found himself unmarked at a corner and headed wide with the goal at his mercy; and then Ilkay Gundogan smashed the ball against the bar after meeting a low cross from David Silva.

Everton began to get in the game and lifted the Goodison crowd with some nice passing which resulted in a corner, but City cleared comfortably. The recalled Bernard was lively on the left and the Toffees were beginning to settle after a shaky opening 20 minutes. But City continued to probe and Andre Gomez had a worrying moment when he clipped David Silva on the edge of the penalty area, but referee Craig Pawson was unmoved. The home fans thought they’d made it to half time but not so.

Idrissa Gueye has been sulking rather since Everton blocked his move to PSG in January, and he took it out on Fernandinho, upending the City midfielder some 25 yards out. And when David Silva whipped in a ferocious cross Aymeric got the vital touch to divert it into the net.

Defender Aymeric Laporte help put Manchester City back on top of Premier League with win over Everton.

Defender Aymeric Laporte celebrates his first half injury time goal after missing a sitter in the opening minutes

That changed the half time team talks but the pattern of play continued and Everton keeper Jordan Pickford needed two chances to hold on to a fierce Sane shot. Sergio Aguero scored his tenth Premier League hat-trick  at the weekend, and he’s now just one short of Alan Shearer’s league record. The prolific striker is rarely out of the Premier League 2019 news, and he almost wrote some more when he was inches wide with a spectacular overhead kick.

With a quarter of the game left, Marco Silva brought Sigurdsson on to try to stretch the City defence but for all Everton’s endeavour the closest encounters came at the other end. After a quick break Silva teed up Raheem Sterling and his shot hit Tom Davies and flew over the bar.

Richarlison made a late appearance for the Toffees and caused a scare in the City box, seizing on a sloppy ball from Kyle Walker and fizzing a wicked ball across the goal but Ederson came out to clear.

And it was two big name City substitutes who sealed the points on 97 minutes, Kevin De Bruyne slid a ball through for Jesus and the young Brazilian beat Pickford at the second attempt.

Manchester City Gabriel Jesus substitutes and registers double lead win last kick of the Premier League match.

Gabriel Jesus off the bench to score a 97th minute goal and seals the points

Key Statistics

After Liverpool had failed to beat West Ham on Monday the Premier League 2019 betting markets swung back in Manchester City’s favour, and they are now clear favourites to win the title.

The Sky Blues completed the double over Everton for the first time since 2014, when they won the title under Manuel Pellegrini. But the Toffees have now lost four of their last five home games, and have conceded more goals from set pieces than any other team in the league…12.

What’s next?

Well, that all means City are back at the top of the Premier League since early December, but that could all change again pretty soon of course. Keep up with the us predictions as we approach the season climax. Mine is that City will go on to win the title.

The Sky Blues can really assert their position as favourites to retain the title, with a win over fourth placed Chelsea on Sunday. Maurizio Sarri has been having a difficult time motivating his players recently…but then he does keep criticising them!

After seven defeats in ten, Vicarage Road would not be Marco Silva’s choice for his next game, but Everton must take on a dangerous Watford side which sits in eighth, a place above the Toffees.

 

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Flynn relishing Pep Cup battle

Mike Flynn is relishing the prospect of going up against "the master" Pep Guardiola when his Newport County giantkillers face Manchester City in the FA Cup fifth round.

The Exiles manager continued his impressive FA Cup giant-slaying reputation on Tuesday night as second-half goals from Robbie Willmott and Padraig Amond helped dump Championship promotion-chasers Middlesbrough out of the competition in their fourth-round replay at Rodney Parade.

Newport defeated Leeds and held Tottenham to a 1-1 draw at home last season, while they have now beaten Premier League Leicester and Boro in the cup this term.

County's reward is a money-spinning home tie against reigning Premier League champions, City, on 16th February and Flynn can't wait to pit his wits against Guardiola.

"This is the creme de la creme," said Flynn.

"It's overwhelming and massive for the club. Pep is a master, somebody I idolise.

"He's probably the best in the business, although I am going to say along with Jurgen Klopp because I am a Liverpool fan.

"I know [City assistant boss] Mikel [Arteta] and he's just messaged me to say 'See you soon'.

"He's a fantastic guy, we did our Pro-Licence together, and it shows how down to earth he is."

On City, Flynn added: "They are outstanding. I wish I hadn't watched that Arsenal game now [City won 3-1], because they were absolutely breathtaking.

"We'll have to be prepared, and I might play nine at the back!"

City are 11/8 to win the FA Cup, while holders Chelsea are priced at 9/2 and Manchester United are available at 11/2.

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Guardiola predicts tight finish

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes the Premier League title race is so tight that it could be decided by goal difference this season.

The Citizens are currently three points behind leaders Liverpool, but know a win at the Reds' Merseyside rivals Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday night could take them back into top spot.

A week ago, Liverpool had an opportunity to move seven points clear at the summit, but two successive draws against Leicester and West Ham respectively, has swung the pendulum back in favour of the reigning champions.

However, Guardiola is certain that his team will have to battle all the way until the end of the season if they are going to retain their crown, while he feels goal difference could also become a factor.

He said: "The first message is to win the game and the second one is: if you can score, score, and if you can avoid conceding, do it, because maybe you could win the Premier League on goal difference.

"While we are not going to say to the guys today we have to win 25-0 – I never say that – first you have to win the game and then second try [to score], because it can happen [winning the title on goal difference].

"I'm pretty sure the winner will be [decided by] the last fixture or the last two. I'm sure of that."

Guardiola is set to be without City skipper Vincent Kompany due to a muscle injury, but full-back Benjamin Mendy could be involved at Goodison Park following two weeks out with a knee issue.

City, who are 5/6 to win the title, are 2/7 to win at Everton, while the Toffees are priced at 10/1 the draw is 11/2.

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Emery: Pep is the best

Unai Emery has said in the build-up to Arsenal's Premier League fixture against Manchester City on Sunday that Pep Guardiola is the best coach in the world.

The Gunners chief says Guardiola's success has not been due to big budgets but excellent coaching methods.

Guardiola won three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues with Barcelona and three Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich before joining City in 2016.

He won the Premier League and League Cup with City last season and his side are 11/8 to win the FA Cup this term and 7/2 to clinch the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Emery said of the 48-year-old Guardiola: "I have analysed a lot of teams and coaches and I think it's difficult to find one coach who is better than Guardiola.

"His career is a very big career. We started together. He started with the Barcelona second team, I started with Lorca after Almeria when he was starting to train.

"I learned a lot looking at his team. It's good to look at each other when we are coaches. I think in his career he is doing the best of all the coaches in the world.

"He has had the possibility to take the best players at Barcelona, in Bayern and in City little by little. He is every year improving with great players and also paying a lot for some players. But he led them, at Barcelona, Bayern and City, one step more every place.

"This for me is the quality that makes me say he is the best."

Arsenal can be backed at 9/1 to beat Manchester City on Sunday.

Guardiola hints at Mendy return

Pep Guardiola has indicated that Benjamin Mendy could feature for Manchester City in Sunday's Premier League game against Arsenal.

The 24-year-old France international has endured an injury-ravaged time at City since joining last season's Premier League champions from Monaco in the summer of 2017.

He missed most of last season after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and had to endure more surgery, this time on his left knee, in November.

However, Mendy could play on Sunday, while Ederson, who suffered a knock in the midweek defeat at Newcastle United, is also set to start against the Gunners.

Veteran defender Vincent Kompany was the only member of the first-team squad to miss training on Friday, with Guardiola saying: "Everyone, except Vinnie, has taken a training session.

"I don't know [whether Mendy will be fit to face Arsenal]. After the minutes he played against Burton Albion away, he had two or three days without training. In the last two training sessions, he was able to train and we will see day by day."

Guardiola is desperate to return to winning ways on Sunday after the setback on Tyneside, adding: "We have to improve our game. We have to be focused. [Arsenal manager] Unai Emery has done quite well in his first season with new players.

"If we didn't have motivation, then we would not be here. We have another final [in the League Cup] and the club finished first in the Champions League [group stages] so we are there.

"We want to sustain the top level. This week, it was difficult for [Manchester] United and the top six to win their games. There were a lot of games and sometimes it is a challenge and it is tough. We can see what we have to do for the next game."

City, 7/4 to win the Premier League title this season, can be backed at 3/10 to beat Arsenal on Sunday and at 8/1 to win the game 2-0.