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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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CHAPMAN: Man City manager wants more Pep from supporters

Author of the article:

Paul Chapman

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo by Lee Smith /Reuters After a fascinating start to the Champions League, there’s a bit of hangover left for Manchester City.

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Yes, Manchester United had a dreadful collapse away to Swiss minnows Young Boys, and Liverpool overcame some dodgy lineup decisions by Jurgen Klopp to beat AC Milan at home, but City manager Pep Guardiola appears to have stepped in it a bit with his comments after their 6-3 win at home versus RB Leipzig.

With a home match on Saturday up against Southampton, Guardiola seemed to take a dig at City supporters imploring them to come to the game.

“I would like more people to come to the next game on Saturday,” Guardiola told BT Sport. “We will need the people next Saturday, please, because we will be tired. I invite all our people to come next Saturday, 3 p.m., and watch the game.”

There were 38,000 fans at the match on Wednesday, the Etihad holds 55,000. If you know a Manchester City supporter, the one thing that really gets under their skin, more than shots about being a plastic club built on oil money that has tried to buy history, it’s digging into their lack of support.

City supporters groups came out on Thursday telling Pep to ‘stick to coaching’. Everyone has wondered when Guardiola will move on to his next project, and the feeling seems to be that he has a burning desire to bring City their first Champions of Europe title. Even though City scored six times on Wednesday, the Etihad isn’t exactly known as an intimidating place to play, so Guardiola would appear to be rankled that he doesn’t have the same kind of home advantage enjoyed by Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool.

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It’s also not going to come down to the crowd to beat Southampton, who despite a scrappy draw with United, have been disappointing to start the season. City should have more than enough to beat them without taking a shot at their own fans.

Game of the week: Tottenham v. Chelsea. After beating City to open the season, hanging on to star Harry Kane and beating Watford, Spurs got tonked 3-0 by Crystal Palace last week. It may not have the same heat as Arsenal v. Spurs, but it’s still a London derby and Chelsea are another big scalp. Expect the pace of the title race to be torrid, City, United, Liverpool and Chelsea are acclaimed as the top four, but Everton and Spurs are trying to force their way into the conversation and a loss to Chelsea could really make the mountain higher for Spurs to climb.

To make matters worse, Chelsea have given up only one goal this season, a penalty to Mo Salah, and Spurs most promising defender Japhet Tanganga is suspended for being sent off versus Palace. Romelu Lukaku scored again in Chelsea’s 1-0 Champions League opener, and he is going to be a handful for Spurs. It’s still early, but a home loss here and Tottenham’s top four credentials will take a serious hit.

FRIDAY: Newcastle v. Leeds United.

SATURDAY: Wolves v. Brentford; Burnley v. Arsenal; Liverpool v. Crystal Palace; Manchester City

v. Southampton; Norwich City v. Watford; Aston Villa v. Everton.

SUNDAY: Brighton v. Leicester; West Ham v. Manchester United; Tottenham v. Chelsea.

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SERIE A

It was only Sassuolo, but did Roma’s late win last week provide another signature moment for manager Jose Mourinho?

After the late goal, Mourinho took off on a sprint down the touchline to join the celebration, reminiscent of his celebration when he first came on the scene as Porto scored at Old Trafford. But Mourinho has gone from ‘The Special One’ to yesterday’s man, flaming out at Chelsea, United and Spurs after leaving Real Madrid. He is being seen as damaged goods, but he has Roma firing and as one of three undefeated teams and facing 19th-place Verona this week, the Portuguese icon is rebuilding his image.

Mid-week European performances doesn’t always bleed into the weekend but you have Juventus and Milan facing each other after MIlan suffered a game but ultimately fruitful show at Anfield, while Juve rolled to a 3-0 win over Malmo. Juve already have a loss on their record, while MIlan are undefeated, so this is an early bookmark.

Meanwhile, champions Inter suffered a nasty late loss to Real Madrid at home. Bologna shoud provide the right tonic, but with Roma and Napoli in the mix, points in the race should be at a premium this week.

FRIDAY: Sassuolo v. Torino.

SATURDAY: Genoa v. Fiorentina; Inter Milan v. Bologna; Salernitana v. Atalanta.

SUNDAY: Empoli v. Sampdoria; Venezia v. Spezia; Lazio v. Cagliari; Hellas Verona v. Roma; Juventus v. AC Milan.

LA LIGA

Atletico Madrid are coming off a draw with Porto in the Champions League but the bigger concern for manager Diego Simeone will be concern for new/old signing Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman was an Atletico legend three years ago before forcing a move to Barcelona, where he largely fizzled.

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Now back on loan, with an agreement to buy, the striker has been unimpressive in his two appearances so far, and was jeered and whistled by the home fans against Porto.

Asked about the situation, Simeone did what any experienced manager does, blamed the media.

“They (the media) are making a movie and a morbid situation that clearly gives us the importance of having recovered an extraordinary footballer like him and that we can enjoy,” Simeone said. “We hope that he gets better and can respond to the people that criticise him. He has a challenge to move forward and consequences for what happened in the past.”

Three teams have started the season with unblemished records, Atletico, Real Madrid and Valencia, with the latter pair facing each other this weekend.

Barcelona looked a shambles in Champions League, being spanked 3-0 at home to Bayern, Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies ran riot down the left flank, exposing yet another Barca weakness. They can’t afford to drop points to lowly Granada this weekend, the pressure is already mounting on manager Ronald Koeman, and captain Gerard Pique told the fans to ‘expect’ more losses like the one versus Bayern.

Valencia can really upset the apple cart by getting a result versus Real Madrid. This was supposed to be a season where Los Blancos were rebuilding, but with Barca on the rocks and Atletico not looking like they did last season, the door in Spain seems more open than it has in many seasons.

FRIDAY: Celta Vigo v. Cádiz.

SATURDAY: Rayo Vallecano v. Getafe; Atlético Madrid v. Athletic Bilbao; Elche v. Levante; Alavés v. Osasuna.

SUNDAY: Mallorca v. Villarreal; Real Sociedad v. Sevilla; Real Betis v. Espanyol; Valencia v. Real Madrid.

MONDAY: Barcelona v. Granada.

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