£180,000-a-week Man City player looked like he was back to his absolute best against Tottenham

In our assessment, Manchester City’s center-back Ruben Dias showcased a return to top form in the team’s 1-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.

Despite earlier suggestions by Anton Ferdinand that Dias might be missing the presence of John Stones alongside him, the Portuguese defender proved his critics wrong during City’s FA Cup encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

With City breaking their curse at the Spurs’ stadium, Ruben Dias played like a defensive colossus, demonstrating a commanding presence in the center of defense. He effectively nullified the threat of Richarlison, consistently staying close and preventing the Brazilian from turning and initiating counter-attacks for the under-pressure Spurs.

City’s defensive success in limiting Tottenham to just one shot on target owed much to Ruben Dias’ exceptional defending inside the penalty area. He repeatedly won ground and aerial duels, blocked shots, and intervened in every attacking move the hosts attempted.

Throughout the game, the three-time Premier League winner displayed flawless positioning, reminiscent of his outstanding performances from the previous season. Despite playing as a right-sided center-back, a position considered his weaker side compared to the left, Dias controlled proceedings alongside Nathan Ake against Tottenham.

Even in possession, Dias impressed with his passing, particularly in breaking the lines with precision. His performance in north London reaffirmed the adage that the cream always rises to the top, showcasing Ruben Dias’ enduring quality.

£75k-a-week Man City target Micah Richards called ‘amazing’ could be huge Kalvin Phillips upgrade

Manchester City continues to explore potential squad improvements, and Douglas Luiz’s recent performance reaffirms why the club is reportedly considering re-signing him. Despite a quiet January transfer window, City did not make any additions to the squad, except for the announcement of a deal for youngster Claudio Echeverri. However, Kalvin Phillips departed on loan to West Ham United for the remainder of the season, likely signaling a summer sale.

Douglas Luiz, currently excelling at Aston Villa, is making a strong case to be Phillips’ replacement. In Villa’s recent 5-0 victory against Sheffield United, Luiz displayed outstanding performance in midfield during his 45-minute playtime. He completed 29 out of 31 passes (94%), including four ‘key’ passes, the most in the game according to Sofascore. Luiz’s impactful play contributed to an early goal-scoring opportunity for Ollie Watkins, showcasing his versatility in both defensive and attacking aspects.

Micah Richards, on the Rest Is Football podcast, praised Luiz for a standout moment when he delivered a sublime pass to Watkins reminiscent of Kevin De Bruyne’s style, leading to a goal. Luiz’s consistent performances this season, with seven goals and seven assists, make him an attractive prospect for City, potentially offering an upgrade over Phillips.

Douglas Luiz’s ability to play as a holding midfielder or as an eight, coupled with his defensive solidity and attacking contributions, aligns well with City’s requirements. Pep Guardiola reportedly expressed interest in bringing Luiz back to the Etihad in November, and the Brazilian midfielder may consider a transfer in the summer to fulfill any unfinished business with City.

Manchester City appear to be bringing in another Jeremy Doku in 19-year-old gem, as amazing stat emerges

Manchester City is reportedly on the verge of signing Savio, a Brazilian player who could be likened to another Jeremy Doku-type talent. The deal, agreed just ahead of the Brentford game, involves City acquiring Savio, currently on loan at Girona from ESTAC Troyes. The 19-year-old has excelled, contributing seven goals and seven assists in 27 appearances across competitions for the La Liga side.

City’s move for Savio, scrutinized by the Premier League due to common ownership of Girona and Troyes by the City Football Group, may bring another dynamic player similar to Jeremy Doku into Pep Guardiola’s squad. While the deal is expected to be finalized by the end of February, Savio is projected to join City’s first team from July, starting pre-season under Guardiola.

Savio’s style of play aligns with exciting dribbling skills, as evidenced by leading La Liga in completed dribbles this season (62), according to WhoScored. The South American talent has garnered attention for his direct and skillful approach, drawing comparisons to Doku, renowned for his dribbling ability.

Despite considerations around City Football Group ownership, Savio’s impending move to City suggests the acquisition of an exciting and promising young talent. His experience in La Liga, coupled with Eredivisie exposure with PSV Eindhoven, positions him as a potential addition to City’s squad for the upcoming season. Guardiola may make a final decision after observing Savio during pre-season training.

Opinion… Why Pep Guardiola should’ve played £225k-a-week Man City ace in midfield over Alvarez vs Chelsea

In our perspective, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola should have opted to start Phil Foden in midfield instead of Julian Alvarez against Chelsea.

Despite Foden’s excellent performance in the right flank position against Copenhagen, Guardiola chose to play him in the same position against Chelsea. The setup in the Champions League clash saw Rodri on the right side of midfield, involving Foden more in the game compared to the previous match.

The decision to start Julian Alvarez instead of Bernardo Silva on the left side created balance in City’s midfield. However, the choice to bring in Alvarez over Foden, a natural midfielder, was unexpected. Alvarez, despite being a goal-scorer for City, had defensive responsibilities as part of a double pivot alongside Rodri.

Considering Foden’s recent hat-trick in midfield against Brentford, it’s perplexing why Guardiola believed Alvarez was better suited for the role against Chelsea. Foden, born in Stockport, was not only an attacking threat against Brentford but also demonstrated his ability to control the game in the first phase of play.

While Alvarez attempted to contribute in deeper areas, he struggled to impact City’s build-up beyond passing the ball back to Rodri or Akanji. Foden’s technical proficiency is considered superior to Alvarez, providing better ball manipulation to bypass Chelsea’s high press.

City’s sluggishness in building out of the back persisted, leading Guardiola to substitute Alvarez in the 64th minute. Later in the game, Foden was shifted centrally, indicating Guardiola’s recognition of the need for a creative boost. However, the limited time on the clock prevented Foden from changing the game.

While it may be understandable for Foden to stay wide to accommodate Bernardo Silva, Guardiola’s insistence on Alvarez as a creator remains puzzling, especially against a team of Chelsea’s caliber, considering Foden’s excellent performances in midfield for City this season.

‘Always’… Pundit says Man City have a player who can just singlehandedly win them games out of nothing

Paul Dickov has asserted that Erling Haaland possesses the capability to singlehandedly secure victories for Manchester City, evident in his decisive contribution against Brentford where he broke the deadlock. Despite City not being at their dominant best, Haaland’s goal proved instrumental in securing the crucial three points.

Dickov praised Haaland’s ability to impact games even when the team is not performing at its peak, emphasizing the confidence it instills in City to have a striker of Haaland’s caliber. The sentiment echoes Vitaliy Mykolenko’s belief that Haaland is currently the best player in the Premier League.

While critics may attribute Haaland’s success to moments of fortune, Dickov emphasized that match-winners possess a unique ability to find ways to secure victories, as seen in Haaland’s performance against Brentford. The striker’s consistent ability to rescue teams he has played for throughout his career is highlighted, with examples including his acrobatic finish against Borussia Dortmund and an incredible overhead kick in a 4-0 win against Southampton.

Haaland’s knack for scoring crucial goals, including last-gasp winners, sets him apart as a player capable of influencing the outcome of games. Dickov drew parallels between Haaland and football greats like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, as well as current world-class performers like Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappe. Contrary to attributing Haaland’s success to luck, Dickov views his impact as a defining quality associated with football’s elite players.

Wayne Rooney says Louis van Gaal wanted him to play like £51m Man City player when he was at Manchester United

Wayne Rooney has disclosed that during Louis van Gaal’s tenure at Manchester United, the Dutch manager encouraged him to play in a manner reminiscent of Erling Haaland, even though Haaland was not yet a professional footballer at that time. Van Gaal’s strategic vision for Rooney involved greater involvement in build-up play, a concept Rooney discussed on The Overlap’s Stick To Football podcast.

Reflecting on his time at Old Trafford, Rooney expressed his desire to always be actively engaged in the game, even if it meant sacrificing more goal-scoring opportunities. Van Gaal, upon his arrival at Manchester United, emphasized a tactical shift for Rooney, wanting the center-forward to have 15 or 20 touches per game, similar to how Erling Haaland operates.

During Manchester City’s recent 1-0 victory against Brentford, Haaland had just 32 touches of the ball, as reported by Sofascore. Despite limited involvement, Haaland’s decisive touch resulted in the winning goal, highlighting the striker’s impact on the game.

In the podcast discussion, Jamie Carragher drew parallels between Van Gaal’s vision and Haaland’s playing style, to which Rooney concurred, noting that Haaland indeed operates with fewer touches, creating unpredictability for defenders. Rooney acknowledged the potential psychological impact on defenders, who may feel a false sense of security or heightened anxiety, knowing that Haaland could score at any moment.

Van Gaal’s strategic insight, urging Rooney to emulate Haaland’s playing style, aligns with the idea that a striker with minimal touches can significantly influence defenders’ mindset. The unpredictability and goal-scoring threat associated with players like Haaland create challenges for opposing defenses and open up opportunities for teammates to exploit.

‘It’s not easy to do’… Pundit left so impressed by £180k-a-week Man City player after Brentford win

Manuel Akanji received praise from Michael Brown for his outstanding performance in Manchester City’s Tuesday night victory over Brentford, a match where City closed the gap at the top of the Premier League table to just one point. Erling Haaland secured the only goal at the Etihad Stadium, marking his 17th Premier League goal of the season and achieving a unique feat by scoring against every Premier League opponent he has faced.

Speaking on City’s Matchday Live show on YouTube after the game, former City midfielder Michael Brown lauded Akanji’s contribution. Brown, who spoke with City presenter FG live from the Etihad Stadium, expressed satisfaction with City’s performance, highlighting their patience against a resolute Brentford side that defended with their entire team behind the ball for most of the game.

Despite Haaland’s decisive goal, Brown emphasized Akanji’s standout performance, naming him the man of the match. Akanji, usually playing in the middle or occasionally on the right, was a surprising starter at left-back. Brown acknowledged the difficulty of playing in that position, particularly stepping forward, and commended Akanji’s deserving recognition as the man of the match.

Akanji’s versatility shone through as he adapted seamlessly to the left-back role, showcasing comfort and excellence in his use of the ball. Beyond defensive contributions, he provided an attacking threat, with a notable long-range shot in the first half that tested the opposing goalkeeper, Mark Flekken. Brown noted Akanji’s ability to break the lines and contribute teasing balls into the box.

Despite City having solid left-back options in Josko Gvardiol and Nathan Ake, Akanji’s impressive performance demonstrated his ability to seamlessly slot into the left side, providing Pep Guardiola with valuable flexibility and depth in defensive positions.

‘The doctor said’… Pep Guardiola shares Kevin De Bruyne injury update after 1-0 win vs Brentford

Pep Guardiola has provided an update on the injury situation involving Kevin De Bruyne following Manchester City’s 1-0 victory against Brentford. The surprise decision to have the £400,000-a-week midfielder on the bench raised eyebrows, especially in a crucial game for City’s Premier League title race.

Guardiola’s choice not to start De Bruyne and substitute Jeremy Doku instead, despite the game being tied at 0-0 before Erling Haaland’s decisive goal, fueled speculation about a potential injury. Guardiola addressed the situation after the match, shedding light on De Bruyne’s suspected hamstring issue.

“We cannot use Kevin [De Bruyne] today because he has niggles in his hamstring position, I didn’t want to take any risks with him,” Guardiola explained, emphasizing a cautious approach to the star player’s fitness. Despite categorizing the concern as not serious, Guardiola stressed the importance of avoiding unnecessary risks, stating, “He’s okay, it’s just more caution and prevention that I think, but he didn’t feel comfortable. The doctor said it is a little risk, and I said, okay. After five months off, we didn’t take any risks about that over him.”

Guardiola’s decision not to risk De Bruyne during this crucial stage of the season is seen as a wise move. As Manchester City faces challenging opponents like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Aston Villa in March, preserving De Bruyne’s fitness becomes paramount. Given the midfielder’s significance to the team, ensuring his full recovery is crucial for City’s aspirations in both the Premier League and the Champions League. Fans hope for his swift return to action to minimize the impact of his potential absence in upcoming crucial fixtures.

‘It’s not easy to do’… Pundit left so impressed by £180k-a-week Man City player after Brentford win

Michael Brown commended Manuel Akanji for his exceptional performance in Manchester City’s Tuesday night victory over Brentford, which narrowed the gap at the top of the Premier League to just one point. Erling Haaland secured the sole goal of the game at the Etihad Stadium, marking his 17th Premier League goal of the season and extending his scoring streak against every Premier League opponent faced.

Appearing on City’s Matchday Live show on YouTube, former City midfielder Michael Brown expressed his satisfaction with City’s performance, highlighting their patience against a resilient Brentford side that had their entire team behind the ball for most of the game. Despite the challenging defensive setup, Haaland’s second-half goal sealed the win. Brown particularly praised Akanji, who unexpectedly started as a left-back.

Akanji, earning £180,000 per week, is more accustomed to playing in the middle or occasionally on the right, making his left-back role a surprise. As Akanji walked past him towards the tunnel, Brown acknowledged his contribution, saying, “There he is. Played in a left-back position (tonight). It’s not easy to do, stepping forward. His shot as well… he deserved it (man of the match).”

While Haaland dominated headlines with the decisive goal, Akanji’s standout performance in an unusual position did not go unnoticed. Despite his limited experience at left-back, Akanji displayed remarkable comfort in the role, showcasing excellent ball distribution and posing an attacking threat. His long-range shot in the first half and well-placed deliveries demonstrated his versatility.

With solid left-back options like Josko Gvardiol and Nathan Ake, Akanji’s seamless adaptation to the position adds depth to Pep Guardiola’s choices. The Swiss international’s versatility provides City with a reliable option on the left side of defense.

Manchester City met with one agent of Kylian Mbappe

There have been bold assertions that one of Kylian Mbappe’s agents held a meeting with Manchester City officials a day before the French superstar reportedly informed Paris Saint-Germain of his intention to leave on a free transfer this summer. While speculation surrounds Mbappe’s next destination, with Real Madrid frequently mentioned, an unexpected claim by Cadena SER suggests that an agent of Mbappe was seen in Manchester meeting with City officials in an informal capacity.

This meeting allegedly occurred on Monday, just before Mbappe’s announcement to PSG. The representative, one of three for Mbappe, reportedly engaged with various City officials, even catching the attention of some City players. Interestingly, another representative, a childhood friend of Mbappe, attended Real Madrid’s Champions League game against RB Leipzig in the VIP area.

Despite the intriguing speculation, the likelihood of Manchester City signing Kylian Mbappe appears slim. City, equipped with Erling Haaland, may not have a pressing need for Mbappe. While the Frenchman could be available on a free transfer, the presence of Haaland, a formidable talent in his own right and a potential rival for the Ballon d’Or, raises doubts about Mbappe’s inclination to join City. Previous claims that City’s owners desired Mbappe to play alongside Haaland seem implausible.

Given Mbappe’s outstanding reputation and the long-standing speculation linking him with Real Madrid, it remains a logical choice for the French forward. Real Madrid, despite performing well without him, may still seek a replacement for Karim Benzema. The possibility of City pursuing Mbappe only arises if Haaland were to be sold, a scenario that currently appears unlikely.

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