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Why Man City should beat Man United to land this €80m powerhouse – would be Fernandinho’s successor

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Tanguy Ndombele

Why Tanguy Ndombele would be the ideal long-term successor to Fernandinho 

According to the Mirror, the Manchester giants are set to go head-to-head in a transfer tug of war over French midfielder Tanguy Ndombele next summer, with Lyon likely to cash in on their prized asset. The report claims that the Premier League sides will face stiff competition from Serie A champions Juventus.

Lyon reportedly value the 22-year-old defensive midfielder at €80million and Pep Guardiola is thought to be a personal admirer of the Frenchman, having praised him for his heroics in Lyon’s 2-2 draw against Manchester City in the Champions League back in November. (h/t Mirror)

Ndombele has been in sublime form in the Ligue 1 this season, attracting the attention of a number of top clubs in Europe. He has also been a key figure in Lyon’s march to the knockout stage of the Champions League from a tough group that featured City, Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Known as a hardworking all-action midfielder, the 22-year-old has a wonderful technique that allows him to keep good close-control of the ball and run comfortably with it. He is exceptionally skilful for a defensive midfielder, possessing a bagful of tricks up his sleeve to create space with intricate touches, sharp turns and clever take-ons.

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Tanguy Ndombele

He not only has the ability to dictate the tempo of the game in the middle of the park, but also contributes a lot with his work rate off the ball. The Frenchman likes to press the opposition and win back possession with crucial tackles and interceptions.

To put things into perspective, he would be an ideal replacement for Fernandinho at Manchester City. Even though the Cityzens did not manage to strike a deal for the 22-year-old this season, they should re-ignite their interest in him to bolster their defensive midfield options in the summer.

Manchester City cruised to the Premier League crown last season, but as the cliche goes- ‘the road to the title is never the same twice’; the Citizens have been made to fight tooth and nail to hold off Liverpool’s challenge. Pep Guardiola’s men are currently leading the table on goal difference, but they have to do a lot of work before from now until May.

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As important as he is to the team, the team found it difficult to cope in the absence of Fernandinho for a few games back in December. John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan are quite capable of filling in, but neither of them proved to be as efficient as the Brazilian in that role, further documenting the need to bring in reinforcements to take the pressure off the veteran’s shoulders.

Read More: Opinion – Why Manchester City over Chelsea would be a better destination for this 16-year-old Dutch wonderkid

Fernandinho has been a wonderful servant for City over the years, but with him reaching the twilight of his career, the club should look for a replacement as soon as possible. That being said, they should not hesitate to splash the cash on Ndombele to maintain a squad strong enough to compete on all fronts.

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Chelsea

5 Talking points from Premier League gameweek 2 including VAR drama and Norwich masterclass

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Five talking points from Premier League gameweek two

Week two of the new Premier League campaign is now over, with Wolves and Manchester United settling for a 1-1 draw.

A victory for the Red Devils would have seen them become only the third side to record two straight victories this season so far, with Liverpool and Arsenal currently boasting a 100% record after champions Manchester City dropped points at home to Tottenham on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Frank Lampard is yet to win his first game as a Chelsea manager as his side were held to an exciting 1-1 draw by Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Here, we take a look at five talking points from the second week of the 2019/20 Premier League season.

1. Norwich 3-1 Newcastle United:  Teemu Pukki grabs the headlines

Teemu Pukki was a revelation in the Championship last season, guiding Norwich City to top-flight promotion. And he has taken the Premier League like a duck to water, scoring four goals in two games thus far.

The Finland international scored a fantastic hat-trick against Newcastle United at the weekend, which also involved a rasping pile-driver from inside the box that Martin Dubravka had no chance to keep out.

The 29-year-old has shown what he is capable of doing and Daniel Farke will expect his marksman to keep delivering the goods consistently.

2. Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham: VAR denies Man City a late winner

The battle between Manchester City and Tottenham produced some late drama once again, courtesy of the VAR.

For the second time in four months, City saw a decisive stoppage-time goal against Tottenham snatched away by VAR, leaving them with a 2-2 draw rather than a 3-2 victory.

VAR disallowed Gabriel Jesus’ goal two minutes into stoppage time after a hand-ball earlier in the move by Aymeric Laporte.

Given the stakes are high in the Premier League, these two dropped points for Pep Guardiola could be pivotal come May.

3. Southampton 1-2 Liverpool: Sadio Mane comes back to haunt the Saints

Liverpool seem to have a new talisman this season in Sadio Mane, who came back to haunt Southampton at the weekend.

After helping the Reds add the European Super Cup to the Champions League, Mane got the ball rolling for Jurgen Klopp’s men with a superb goal in first-half stoppage time before Roberto Firmino scored in the second half to hand the visitors a two-goal cushion.

A comedy of errors from Adrian in goal gifted Danny Ings his first goal of the season, but Liverpool saw the game out to earn two wins from their opening two matches.

4. Sheffield United 1-0 Crystal Palace: John Lundstram helps the Blades to three crucial points

Any team that takes Sheffield United lightly at Bramall Lane would simply be digging its own graveyard.

Chris Wilder’s men have been impressive in the first two games, earning their first victory of the top-flight campaign against a spineless Crystal Palace side via to a second-half strike from John Lundstram. The Blades also gave a glimpse of how difficult they are going to be at home.

5. Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City: Frank Lampard still waiting for his first win as Chelsea boss

It has been a tough start for Frank Lampard at Chelsea, although the 41-year-old will be encouraged with the displays in the last two games after the 4-0 thrashing against Manchester United.

Chelsea started strongly and were rewarded with an early goal through Mason Mount, however, they couldn’t double their advantage or bury the game in the first half when they had the chances to do so.

That gave Leicester a chance to bounce back in the second half and they did so, equalising through Wilfred Ndidi. The Foxes have only themselves to blame for not taking more than a point out of the Bridge.

Lampard has a lot to improve if his team is to make it to the top-four but for now, he remains without a win.

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Manchester City

Manchester City vs Tottenham: 3 key battles that could decide the outcome of this epic encounter

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Three key battles in Manchester City vs Tottenham

Defending Premier League champions Manchester City kicked things off in great fashion as they beat West Ham 5-0 in their opening PL fixture at the London Stadium.

Pep Guardiola’s side now return to Etihad and turn their attention towards a juicy fixture against Tottenham, a side that eliminated them in the Champions League quarter-finals last season. This will be a different test for Manchester City and they’ll be desperate for three points on Saturday.

Tottenham, on the other hand, also enjoyed a positive start to the new campaign as they defeated newbies Aston Villa 3-1 after coming from a goal behind. The north London side will have to be at their sublime best to beat City at the Etihad.

The duo has had some memorable encounters over the years with plenty of goals too and both could easily take the win if they get their tactics right. Both City and Spurs have real match-winners in their respective sides, but what are the key battles that could decide the game? Let’s take a look.

1. Harry Kane vs Aymeric Laporte

Harry Kane has started the new campaign very well, scoring a brace in the 3-1 win over against Aston Villa. He will undoubtedly be the danger man for Tottenham and their main avenue of attack once again.

The England striker will likely have to deal with Aymeric Laporte, who alongside John Stones helped City in keeping a clean sheet against West Ham last weekend.

Kane is arguably Premier League’s best striker at the moment and his game is about intelligent positioning and reading of the game. He is deadly in and around the box, which means that the City defenders have to be extra vigilant.

Laporte has been Guardiola’s first-choice centre-back and did very well against West Ham. The Frenchman had to contain Sebastien Haller last week but Kane will be a very different kind of test for him, and one he’ll have to be up for if his team are to take all three points.

2. Christian Eriksen vs Rodri

Christian Eriksen was left on the bench in the opening day win over Aston Villa, but his entry as a substitute changed the course of the game. His side were trailing 1-0 at home until his introduction in the second half and the Dane inspired Spurs to all three points.

Eriksen is one of the best midfielders, always having an influence going forward. With him in the team, Spurs are a different animal and that was well documented against Villa. A player who Eriksen is most likely to come up against in this game is Rodri.

Rodri made his first Premier League appearance in City colours against West Ham, controlling the tempo of the game from the base of the midfield. He was dispossessed a few times but that was not expected as all new players take time to adjust to the physical and aggressive nature of the Premier League.

With time, however, Rodri will improve and become a long-term replacement for Fernandinho. However, the Spaniard is the man who would be charged with keeping Eriksen quiet today.

3. Raheem Sterling vs Kyle Walker-Peters

Spurs have become weak at right-back following Kieran Trippier’s exit this summer. Pochettino preferred young Kyle Walker-Peters over experienced Serge Aurier on the right against Villa and the 22-year-old repaid his manager’s faith with a strong performance.

However, Walker-Peters will have to be mindful when he comes up against the dangerous Raheem Sterling, who scored a hat-trick in the 5-0 battering of West Ham.

The England international is a lynchpin in the City attack and is an excellent link-up player. He has an excellent awareness of where to position himself to pounce on the opponents’ mistake.

So Walker-Peters will have his task cut out against the nippy Sterling. The City ace will be a key supply line in his team’s attack and the Tottenham defender has to break it early on to make it difficult for the hosts.

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Manchester City

Comparing Man City’s star right-backs – numbers show that Guardiola has a selection headache

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Comparing Manchester City’s new signing Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker

Premier League champions Manchester City completed the signing of Juventus defender Joao Cancelo on a six-year deal.

Cancelo, 25, has signed a contract at the Etihad Stadium until the summer of 2025 and became Manchester City’s third signing of the summer after Angelino and Rodri.

The Portugal international, who won the domestic double with Juventus in his debut season in the Serie A, was a part of the Man City squad that thrashed West Ham United 5-0 on the opening day of the Premier League season.

However, he had to watch on from the sidelines as Kyle Walker put in a terrific performance at right-back.

As things stand, Pep Guardiola has two brilliant, flying right-backs in Walker and Cancelo. Thus, it is worth comparing them and finding out the reason behind Man City’s decision to splash the cash on Cancelo.

Statistical comparison of Walker and Cancelo from 2018-19 season

In terms of the defensive numbers, Kyle Walker, who made 30 appearances for City in the Premier League last season, made 1.2 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game. He made 1.5 clearances and blocked 0.2 shots.

Cancelo, on the other hand, played only 22 games for Juventus in the Serie A as he spent a couple of months on the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery.

Yet, he made 1.7 tackles and 0.6 interceptions on average. The Portuguese was dribbled past 0.9 times a game and committed 1.3 fouls per game, which doesn’t paint a great picture as far as the right-back’s defensive qualities and game-reading are concerned.

Moreover, Cancelo received six yellow cards in comparison to Walker’s three during the entire 2018/19 campaign.

As far as the offensive numbers are concerned, Walker managed just a goal and an assist. Cancelo bagged three goals and an assist, with 1.4 key passes and 2.4 dribbles per game. Walker, meanwhile, amassed 0.7 key passes and 0.5 dribbles on average.

Cancelo is a decent passer of the ball and enjoyed a pass success rate of 86.2%. Walker enjoyed a whopping passing success rate of 90.1% in the Premier League.

Looking at the numbers, it is not surprising to see that Walker enjoyed a better pass success rate than Cancelo purely because City have adopted a free-flowing possession-based approach under Pep Guardiola.

But Cancelo, who can play further forward on the right, is more creative and forward-thinking than Walker as he is comfortable getting involved in intricate, free-flowing football in the final third, meaning the Portuguese can support the likes of Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in the attack.

He works tirelessly up and down the right flank and is considerably more useful in possession.

This doesn’t mean that Walker is bad by any means, but it highlights the differing profiles of the two players. The England international has improved defensively under Guardiola but he doesn’t have the dribbling ability, natural flair and vision to create opportunities for his teammates as Cancelo does.

Verdict

Both Walker and Cancelo are entirely different players, with both having a diverse style of play and qualities. And this should be considered as a boon for Guardiola though, as he has two different options to use depending on the opposition. Without any second thoughts, Cancelo’s addition looks perfect.

The Portuguese full-back is one of the best in Europe, particularly in possession, and is ideal to compete with Walker for the right-back spot, something which Danilo couldn’t.

Walker’s performance in the 5-0 thrashing of West Ham shows that he is dedicated to the task and wary of City’s brand new star, Joao Cancelo.

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