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5 most successful signings of the Mike Ashley era at Newcastle United

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5 most successful signings of the Mike Ashley era at Newcastle United

There is hardly any Newcastle United fan who would disagree with the statement that Mike Ashley has done a bad job of owning the club.

Ever since the retail magnate bought out the shares of the club from the Hall family and the late Freddy Shepherd back in 2007, Newcastle United have been in some kind of a downward spiral in the Premier League.

Indeed, the fans have thrown plenty of tantrums at Ashley for his negligence towards the club’s training facilities, poor maintenance of the stadium, improper management and decision making at the board level, and most importantly, the lack of investment to bring in top-quality players from across the continent.

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Now, it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out the reason behind the club’s downfall from being top-six contenders to relegation contenders in the Premier League.

Apart from the lack of progress in all aspects, starting from the improvement of training facilities to building a strong base for the future, Newcastle’s shoestring budget and their inability to compete with the other clubs on financial grounds have hit them hard.

Moreover, Ashley’s reluctance to loosen his purse strings and pay good-enough wages to attract players has also marked a negative transition as far as the club’s recruitment policy is concerned.

There was a time when the Magpies used to raid the European market for top-quality stars but that has changed drastically, with Ashley simply making a profit by selling players.

Yes, the big-money arrivals of Joelinton and Miguel Almiron can be considered as an occasional deviation from a rather one-dimension policy but in all honesty, Ashley hasn’t shown that kind of ambition often. 

Prior to Ashley’s takeover of Newcastle, the fans were used to seeing the club operating in the upper reaches of the Premier League. There was a time back in the late 90s and the early 2000s when Newcastle used to fly the English flag high in European competitions.

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Talking about investment and ambition, it might be hard to recall now but the elderly fans would probably still remember that the Magpies broke the world transfer record in 1996 to bring Alan Shearer to the club from Blackburn Rovers.

With that in mind, however, the erosion of the club’s status under Ashley has been quite a sorry tale, to say the least. The current owner has already overseen two relegations to the Championship and he has hardly shown any intent to mend his ways.

However, realistically, Mike Ashley is a shrewd businessman and he is right up there with the best in the world when it comes to completing bargain deals in the market and making a profit by selling players to other clubs.

So, without further ado, let us take a look at some of Newcastle’s most successful signings under the infamous ownership of Mike Ashley.

1. Fabricio Coloccini 

The powerful long-haired Argentine centre-back established himself as a firm fan favourite over the course of his eight seasons in the North East of England, having arrived for a fee of £10.3million from Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna in the summer of 2008. 

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Coloccini won plenty of hearts with his robust defending, high levels of commitment, as well as his leadership skills and daunting forward runs, accumulating a total of 275 appearances for the Magpies in all competitions. 

The South American was an integral part of the Magpies side managed by Alan Pardew that reached the quarter-finals of the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League. 

Still going strong at the age of 37, playing for San Lorenzo in his homeland, the former 39-cap Argentine international has to go down as one of Ashley’s masterstrokes.

2. Ayoze Perez

Not many would have been happy when Perez switched boats to join Leicester City for a fee of £30million earlier this summer but as a matter of fact, Newcastle United pocketed an incredible profit from the Spaniard’s sale.

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Signed from Spanish second-tier side Tenerife for a fee of just £1.5million back in 2014, Perez spent his formative years at St.James’ Park and gradually evolved into a quality playmaking forward in the Premier League.

Perez’s tally of 48 goals in 195 appearances in all competitions do not look prolific on paper but considering that he arrived as a complete rookie and rose through the ranks by the sheer dint of his merit, the Spaniard, indeed, deserves a lot of credit.

Newcastle though, have every reason to rue his departure given that they toiled hard to transform him into a quality player and failed to hold on to his services just when he was about to enter his prime at 25.

3. Yohan Cabaye

The French central midfielder came through the door at Tyneside as a proven source of goals and assists, having accumulated 37 goals and 32 assists in 252 appearances for Lige 1 outfit Lille prior to his £4.3million move to Newcastle.

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The technically-gifted ace went on to establish himself as one of the mainstays of the club’s midfield and evolved into an undisputed starter over the course of his two-and-a-half season stay, amassing 18 goals and 14 assists in 93 appearances across all competitions.

Talk about making a profit, Newcastle moved him on to PSG in January 2014 for a fee of £19million, as Ashley once again showed that he is adept at playing hardball with the potential suitors. 

Cabaye, of course, enjoyed a trophy-laden spell at the French capital before returning to Crystal Palace for another stint in the Premier League.

4. Demba Ba 

The Senegalese international made his move to the Premier League with West Ham from German club Hoffenheim in January 2011 but his heroics of scoring 7 goals in 12 Premier League outings in the second half of the 2010-11campaign wasn’t enough to avoid relegation for the Hammers. 

Ba joined Newcastle United on a free transfer thereafter in the summer of 2011 after terminating his contract with the Hammers, and he hit the ground running instantly.

The towering and powerful centre-forward’s general nous of finding the net saw him rack up 16 goals in his first season before scoring another 13 goals in the first half of the 2012-13 campaign, which earned him a £7million move to heavyweights Chelsea in January 2013.

Ba’s spell at Tyneside saw him rack up 29 goals in 58 games in all competitions.

5. Georginio Wijnaldum

The most expensive inclusion in the list, Georginio Wijnaldum joined Newcastle for a fee of £14.5million from Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2015 and took the Premier League by storm in his debut season. 

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That, however, proved to be his only campaign at Tyneside and the Dutch midfielder left to join Liverpool for a fee of £25million in 2016 after Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship.

Wijnaldum though, did make a big impact in his only season at Newcastle, as the Dutchman starred with 11 goals and 5 assists in 40 appearances across all competitions, including four goals in a game against Norwich City in the Premier League.

Aston Villa

Top 5 expensive Belgian imports to the Premier League – a rundown of their performances

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Top 5 expensive Belgian imports to the Premier League

Aston Villa’s spending spree this summer has grabbed the headlines in the British tabloids.

Manager Dean Smith has already shelled out a lot of money to bring as many as ten new players so far, and with just a week remaining before the transfer deadline, it won’t be surprising to see Villa bag a couple of more scalps in the market.

Apart from ironing out permanent deals for last season’s loanees Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi, Villa have also splashed the cash to bring in the likes of Wesley Moraes, Matt Targett, Jota, Trezeguet, Ezri Konsa, Bjorn Engels and Douglas Luiz as a part of their massive squad overhaul this summer.

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Interestingly, it is the towering Brazilian centre-forward Wesley Moraes who has arrived at Villa Park in a club-record £22million deal from Belgian heavyweights Club Brugge, making him the most expensive Belgian import ever in the Premier League. 

Looking at the past records, Aston Villa have every reason to be confident of Wesley’s ability to make the step up to the Premier League because this is not the first time that Villa have raided the Belgian market for a centre-forward, having enjoyed resounding success with the transfer of Christian Benteke from KRC Genk back in the 2012-13 season.  

Besides the other elite leagues in Europe, the Belgian top-flight, despite not being regarded as a highly competitive ground, has emerged as one of the most reliable markets for the Premier League clubs over the years.

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Starting from Romelu Lukaku, Benteke and Aleksandar Mitrovic to the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Wilfred Ndidi and, most recently, Leander Dendoncker, there have been numerous success stories of players acclimatising brilliantly to the Premier League after arriving from Belgian clubs. 

Apart from Aston Villa, the likes of Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton have also completed big-money raids on the Belgian market this summer to bring in Leandro Trossard and Moussa Djenepo, which further underpins the fact that the English clubs are not reluctant to show confidence in the Belgian league players.

While players arriving in the Premier League from the lower leagues in Europe are still viewed with suspicion by the English fans, it is worth mentioning here that a big number of the Belgian imports in the English top-flight have done their reputation no harm.

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It is definitely worth taking a look at some of the most expensive Belgian imports to the Premier League and how they have fared over the years.

Note: Only the initial sign-on amount in each case is taken into account and the values mentioned below do not include add-ons or performance-related bonuses.

Here are the 5 most expensive players to arrive in the Premier League from the Belgian market:

1. Jose Izquierdo – £13.5million

The diminutive Colombian winger rose to prominence in Europe during his three-year spell at Club Brugge in Belgium, where he carved out a real reputation for himself with his pace, breathtaking solo runs down the flanks and a terrific eye for goal. 

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The left-winger plundered 38 goals and 19 assists in 117 appearances for Brugge in all competitions, winning the Belgian Cup and the Belgian Pro League, whilst also impressing in the Europa League and the Champions League.

Izquierdo’s heroics in Belgium earned him a £13.5millionmove to the south coast of England with Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer of 2017 and the 27-year-old enjoyed a decent first season at the Amex Stadium, registering 5 goals and 3 assists in the Premier League. 

However, the Colombian fell out of favour in his second season under Chris Hughton and managed only 9 starts in the league. Now, it remains to be seen whether new manager Graham Potter has him in his plans for the upcoming campaign. 

2. Aleksandar Mitrovic – £13million

The towering Serbian centre-forward was one of the best emerging talents in Europe when Newcastle United splashed out £13million to sign him as a 20-year-old from Anderlecht in the summer of 2015.

Prior to his move to England, Mitrovic had already won the Serbian title with his boyhood club Partizan Belgrade and the Belgian Pro League in his debut campaign at Anderlecht.

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A strike rate of 44 goals in 90 appearances was apparently enough to convince Newcastle of Mitrovic’s talent and the Serb showed strong signs of promise in his debut season in the Premier League, although his 9 goals in the 2015-16 season weren’t enough to prevent relegation.

Despite Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship, Mitrovic stayed at St.James’ Park with a view to guiding the Magpies back to the top-flight at the first time of asking.

However, a drastic dip in form in the 2016-17 season saw the Serb find the net on only 4 occasions in 25 league appearances in the second-tier, although Benitez’s side did manage to secure promotion, courtesy of Dwight Gayle’s free-scoring form.

Mitrovic struggled in the 2017-18 season in the Premier League before resurrecting his career on loan at Fulham in the Championship, scoring 12 in 20 games in the second half of the 2017-18 season to propel the Cottagers to the top-flight. 

His promotion-winning heroics earned him a permanent deal at Craven Cottage and Mitrovic impressed with 11 goals in Fulham’s 2018-19 Premier League campaign, which ultimately ended in relegation.

3. Wilfred Ndidi – £15million

The tough-tackling and all-action central defensive midfielder made his professional debut for Genk back in the 2014-15 season and his resounding success in the Belgian top-flight over the next couple of seasons paved the way for a £15millionmove to Leicester City in January 2017. 

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Apart from impressing in the latter half of Leicester’s remarkable run to the quarter-finals of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League, Ndidi soon established himself as one of the most daunting and energetic defensive midfielders in the Premier League and nailed down a regular starting role right from the beginning of his time at the King Power Stadium.

Still only 22, Ndidi has already proven himself to be an exceptional talent and Leicester might struggle to hold on to him for too long if he continues to develop at such a rapid rate.

The Nigerian international continues to be a massive bargain for Leicester and the Foxes are likely to recoup at least two to three times the money should they decide to move him on in the near future. 

4. Marouane Fellaini – £15million

The Belgian international’s towering frame and bushy haircut became a familiar sight for the Premier League fans for almost a decade, especially for those at Goodison Park and Old Trafford.

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Former Everton manager David Moyes was the man responsible for bringing the 6ft 4in central midfielder to the Premier League in 2008 for a fee of £15million from Standard Liege and he reunited with Fellaini at Man United in the summer of 2013.

Fellaini went on to enjoy an illustrious and distinguished career in English football, and racked up a mammoth 354 appearances in all competitions for Everton and Man United combined, registering a total of 55 goals and 38 assists in the process.

The 2018-19 season proved to be Fellaini’s swansong in the Premier League, with the Belgian moving to the Chinese Super League in January 2019.

However, he has to go down as one of the best ever Belgian imports in the history of the Premier League, having won the FA Cup, League Cup and the Europa League with Man United.

5. Romelu Lukaku- £12 million

Currently one of the stalwarts in the Premier League, Romelu Lukaku bagged 41 goals in 98 appearances for Anderlecht and won a host of honours in Belgium, including the Belgian Pro League in 2009-10 and the Ebony Shoe before earning a £12million move to Chelsea in 2011. 

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Lukaku, however, struggled for playtime at Stamford Bridge and established himself as a free-scoring forward in the Premier League during his loan spells, netting 17 for West Brom in the 2012-13 season and following it up with another 16 at Everton in the following campaign.

The Belgian centre-forward joined Everton permanently in 2014 and subsequently carved out a massive reputation for himself owing to his free-scoring form, which saw him rack up a staggering 87 goals in 166 appearances for the Toffees.

Following his resounding success at Everton, Lukaku moved to Man United for a fee of £75million in 2016 but his returns have dipped slightly during his stint at Old Trafford, as he has accumulated just 42 goals in 96 appearances for the Red Devils till date.

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Barcelona

9 most expensive internationally uncapped players in football right now

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9 most expensive internationally uncapped players in football currently

We all know that money flows very easily in football nowadays and the involvement of multi-million-pound investors has made it a walk in the park for European clubs to splash the cash.

That, however, doesn’t mean that they have got all the money in the world because the Chinese clubs too have a lot of easy cash at their disposal and often manage to snap up promising prospects with their financial prowess.

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As a matter of fact, the clubs hardly take into account the international recognition of the players but it is their performances in the club circuit that matter the most.

As evident from some of the transfers these days, it is true that big-money moves don’t always depend on whether or not players have been capped internationally by their respective nations. The international status is no longer considered as a big asset in the CV of any footballer.

Keeping that in mind, let us take a look at some of the most expensive internationally uncapped footballers in the world.

Note: Those who have gained international status following their big-money moves, such as Ederson Moraes, Richarlison, Arthur and so on, are not taken into consideration. The list only includes those who are yet to be capped by their nations at the senior level.

1. Aymeric Laporte – £57 million

Man City splashed out a then club-record fee of £57million to bring in French centre-back Aymeric Laporte from La Liga outfit Athletic Bilbao in January 2018.

The technically-gifted defender proved himself to be a tailor-made fit for Pep Guardiola’s system and quickly nailed down a regular starting role at the Etihad.

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Laporte’s consistently impressive performances have led to him being regarded as one of the best young centre-backs in the Premier League. However, as surprising as it might sound, the left-footed defender is yet to earn a senior cap for the France national team.

The 25-year-old has already won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and League Cup with Man City but that apparently hasn’t been enough to impress Didier Deschamps.

2. Aaron Wan-Bissaka – £50million

Currently an England U-21 international, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a hot property this summer and Man United seemingly stole a march over their Premier League rivals by forking out £50million to sign the right-back from Crystal Palace.

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His impressive performances for the Eagles last season, coupled with his obvious talent and massive potential, kind of justifies that price tag but England have the likes of Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold currently vying for that right-back role.

Gareth Southgate, though, is likely to have Wan-Bissaka on his radar for the near future, with a view to having him cap-tied for England. Just to remind the fans, he is still eligible to represent DR Congo owing to his African heritage.

3. Malcom – £36.5million

The former Corinthians winger racked up 23 goals and 16 assists in 96 appearances for Bordeaux in all competitions over the course of three seasons before Barcelona successfully signed the burgeoning Brazilian talent in the summer of 2018.

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The £36.5million price tag looked quite outrageous when the move materialized and the left-footed creative winger struggled to nail down a regular starting spot in Barcelona’s star-studded first team last season.

A part of the Brazil U-20 side that finished as runners-up at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Malcom has been called up by senior international coach Tite on a couple of occasions, although he is still awaiting his first cap.

4. Vinicius Junior- £38.7million

One of the most talented Brazilian exports to have gatecrashed the Spanish market in recent times, Vinicius Junior shot to prominence with Flamengo before earning a £38.7million move to Real Madrid last summer. 

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It is a no-brainer that he arrived at the Bernabeu as a future prospect and only played a bit-part role in the first-team last season, although he still managed to earn plenty of plaudits for his quick feet, razor-sharp anticipation, lightning pace, instant acceleration and mesmerizing dribbling skills to complement a deadly eye for key passes.

Vinicius was called up to the Brazil national team for the friendlies against Panama and the Czech Republic earlier this year but he had to withdraw due to an injury and currently remains uncapped at the senior international level.

5. Rodrygo Goes – 45million

Real Madrid made the headlines with the signing of highly-rated 18-year-old winger Rodrygo Goes from Brazilian club Santos last summer for €45m, although the teenage sensation continued his development with Santos this past season as a part of the agreement between the two clubs.

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The electric left-winger has already represented Brazil at U-17 and U-20 levels but it doesn’t look likely that he would be getting a senior breakthrough any time soon given the intense competition for places in Brazil’s ranks.

6. Anthony Modeste – 35.7million

Anthony Modeste’s feat of 25 goals in 37 appearances for Cologne in the Bundesliga in the 2016-17 season propelled the club to the European front for the first time in 25 years and Chinese outfit Tianjin Quanjian splashed €35.7million to bring the Frenchman to the Far East.

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However, he went AWOL after netting 16 goals in 29 appearances for the Chinese side and returned to Cologne.

The Bundesliga veteran is now 31 and the prospect of international football with France looks bleak.

7. Ayoze Perez- £30 million

Newcastle only spent £1.5million to bring Ayoze Perez from Spanish second-tier side Tenerife back in 2014 but the Magpies made an eye-watering profit when Leicester City forked out £30million to sign the playmaking forward this summer. 

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Perez scored 48 goals in 195 appearances over the course of five seasons at St.James’ Park and represented Spain a couple of times at the U-21 level, although he is yet to receive a senior international cap.

8. James Maddison – £24million

The playmaker established himself as one of the breakout stars in the Premier League in the 2018-19 season following his move to the King Power Stadium from Norwich City last summer.

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The 21-year-old racked up an impressive 7 goals and 7 assists in the league this past season for Leicester City and proved himself to be worth every penny of the £24million that the Foxes had spent to bring him to the club.

Maddison’s impressive performances earned him a senior England call-up for the UEFA Nations League fixture against Croatia last year but he is yet to make his debut for the Three Lions. Gareth Southgate will probably be having him on his radar for Euro 2020, nevertheless.

9. Issa Diop – £22million

West Ham spent £22million to bring the towering French centre-back to East London from Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse last summer and he went on to have a massive impact at the London Stadium under Manuel Pellegrini in the Premier League this past season. 

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Diop has represented France at all youth levels from U-16 to U-21, although he still remains eligible to represent Senegal through his father, and Morocco through his mother’s heritage.

Still only 22, the 6ft 4in giant does look like a bright international prospect for all three aforementioned nations.

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Cardiff City

5 of the biggest upsets in the 2018/19 season of the Premier League

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2018-19 Premier League rewind: A look back at the 5 of the biggest upsets

There was hardly any shortage of drama, excitement and hype in the 2018-19 season of the Premier League, with some mesmerizing individual performances, sheer moments of magic, edge-of-the-seat thrillers and a see-saw title race producing yet another enthralling season of football.

As a matter of fact, it was goals galore all throughout the campaign, as the grand total of 1072 goals made the 2018-19 season the most prolific ever in the history of the Premier League.

In the end, Man City successfully managed to defend their Premier League title, as Pep Guardiola’s side broke Liverpool’s hearts and ensured that the Reds’ pursuit of a first domestic title since 1990 ultimately ended in failure.

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The final day of the campaign ended in ecstasy for the fans at Etihad, while those at Anfield would have felt the pain of falling short by a solitary point despite a valiant effort from their team.

We all know that the Premier League is famous for producing plenty of thrills and spills, which is probably the reason why it is widely acclaimed as the most competitive league in the world.

When we speak about competition, it is expected that the league would also have a touch of unpredictability to it.

The 2018/19 season, indeed, produced some massive upsets, where the lesser teams defied the odds and took everybody by surprise to shock the heavyweights operating in the upper reaches of the competition.

Surprisingly, winners Man City were also at the receiving end of three such upsets; one each at the hands of Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Newcastle United.

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It is true that we have a definitive top-six in the Premier League these days but we witnessed last season that the mid-table teams and even the relegation-threatened sides are more than capable of pulling off surprises on their day. With that in mind, let us revisit those instances when teams defied belief to register the unlikeliest of victories.

1. Leicester City vs Man City- Boxing Day

Leicester City were enduring a rather inconsistent campaign under Claude Puel but the Foxes came into the game high on confidence following a 1-0 victory over Chelsea in their previous outing.

Man City, on the other hand, arrived at the King Power Stadium on the back of a shock 3-2 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace at home, although Pep Guardiola’s side were the outright favourites to claim all three points against Leicester.

Unsurprisingly, Leicester defended in numbers and got bodies behind the ball as Man City stamped their authority in the opening quarter of the game.

It didn’t take long for them to open the scoring though, as Sergio Aguero played Bernardo Silva behind the Foxes’ backline to set up the Portuguese for an easy finish.

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However, Leicester responded within just four minutes, as Jamie Vardy’s cross found the run of Marcus Albrighton, who outsmarted Fabian Delph with his clever movement and beat Ederson to score the equaliser. Well, you cannot keep Jamie Vardy out of the action, can you? 

Aguero lost his footing numerous times in the final third quite uncharacteristically and Man City failed to score the winner despite enjoying a lot of possession. James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury called Ederson into action a few times but the scores stayed level until the very end.

Some late drama saw Ricardo Pereira fire home a pile driver from just inside the edge of the box to hand Leicester a 2-1 advantage before Man City’s Fabian Delph received the marching orders from the referee.

The game was an eye-opener to all the fans who would have thought that Man City’s loss against Palace was a mere bad day at the office.

2. Man City vs Crystal Palace – 22nd December

Man City had only lost a single game in the Premier League season, which was against Chelsea, when they played host to Crystal Palace at the Etihad on 22nd December and with Roy Hodgson’s side struggling in the lower reaches of the table, the Citizens were the clear favourites.

Pep Guardiola’s side kept Palace under the cosh in the opening stages of the game and Fabian Delph’s cross was headed in by Ilkay Gundogan, who gave City the lead in the 27th minute.

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Palace, however, found an instant reply as Wilfried Zaha’s dazzling run followed by McArthur’s clever pass allowed Jeffrey Schlupp to equalise with a clinical finish.

The match turned out to be closer than expected and a moment of sheer brilliance from Andros Townsend turned the game in Palace’s favour. The former Spurs man put his magical left foot through the ball from a long way outside the box but his thunderous effort evaded the fingertips of Ederson, thus putting Palace 2-1 up before half-time.

Townsend hit the post early in the second half and Max Meyer, in an attempt to score from the rebound, was brought down inside the box by a reckless challenge from Kyle Walker, prompting referee Andre Marriner to point to the penalty spot. Luka Milivojevic buried the penalty kick to give Palace an unlikely 3-1 lead.

De Bruyne made it 3-2 with a cross that luckily sailed over the head of Guaita and Leroy Sane hit the post later on but the Eagles did enough to hold on to their lead for a famous win.

3. Wolves vs Chelsea – 6th December

Premier League newcomers Wolves impressed one and all with their character and resilience but as a matter of fact, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were going through a patchy period when they played host to Chelsea on 6th December.

Wolves came into the game on the back of miserable defeats at the hands of Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town, and the Black Country outfit were under pressure to justify that their flying start to the campaign wasn’t a mere flash in the pan.

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Things didn’t go according to plan for Wolves though, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s powerful effort from 25 yards was headed into his own net by home captain Conor Coady just 18 minutes into the game.

Both teams failed to produce anything spectacular in the first half but Chelsea went into the interval with a 1-0 lead.

However, Wolves staged a remarkable comeback following the restart, as two quick goals from Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez in the space of just four minutes proved to be the turning point in the clash.

Wolves ultimately won the game 2-1 and Nuno Santo’s lion-hearted warriors went on to register impressive victories over the likes of Man United, Spurs and Liverpool thereafter. 

4. Newcastle United vs Man City – 31st January

Pep Guardiola sat in the dugout for his 100th Premier League game, as Newcastle United played host to defending champions Man City towards the end of January.

With Man City and Liverpool going hammer and tongs at each other in a bid to get the upper hand in the title race, this was always going to be a must-win game for the Citizens and they were the definitely the strong favourites against Rafael Benitez’s unit.

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And it looked like the travelling fans were in for an absolute feast when Sergio Aguero put the visitors 1-0 ahead just 24 seconds into the game. City dictated the play in the first half and they could have had the second goal just at the stroke of the interval, only for David Silva’s attempt to be blocked by Florian Lejeune.

Man City upped the ante after the restart and Martin Dubravka was called into action numerous times early in the second half, as Sterling, Sane and David Silva all had attempts on goal.

However, in a twist of fate, Newcastle made City pay for their missed chances and equalised in the 66th minute. Salomon Rondon got in front of John Stones and volleyed it straight into the net after a bit of a scramble in the final third.

City went all out in pursuit of the winner but it was Newcastle who had the last laugh and pulled off a massive upset.

Fernandinho’s challenge on Sean Longstaff was deemed worthy of a penalty and Matt Ritchie stepped up to send Ederson the wrong way, thus making it 2-1 with just 10 minutes left to play. The 2-1 victory meant that Newcastle registered their first victory over Man City in the Premier League since 2005.

5. Man United vs Cardiff City – 12th May

Man United thrashed Cardiff City 5-1 in December in what was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in charge as the caretaker manager of the Red Devils. However, the tides turned dramatically when an already-relegated Cardiff City travelled to Old Trafford to take on United in the final game of the campaign.

Marcus Rashford missed a couple of promising chances and Neil Warnock’s side drew first blood. Diogo Dalot’s rather tame looking challenge on Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was deemed worthy of a penalty by referee Jonathan Moss for some unknown reason and Mendez-Laing stepped up to make it 1-0 from the spot.

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United continued to miss chances and Mason Greenwood saw his shot get tipped on to the post by Neil Etheridge.

Things turned from bad to worse in the second half for United when Josh Murphy picked out Mendez-Laing’s run at the far post with an accurate cross following a dazzling run, and Cardiff took a 2-0 lead.

It didn’t turn out to be a happy outing for Solskjer against his old club, although the Bluebirds ended their campaign on a high. Cardiff City registered their first victory over Man United since 1960 and first at Old Trafford since 1954.

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