Aguero rolls back the years
Nine years ago Sergio Aguero wrote his name in football folklore with his 93.20 goal to win Manchester City their first Premier League title and has continued to be his ‘Mr Reliable’ ever since.
On Saturday he did it again – but under much less dramatic circumstances. Man City had been working in the first half, struggling to find that spark to bring them closer to Premier League glory.
He had shown signs of the incredible talent he possessed, but his control and finish of Benjamin’s superb Mendy cross was world class. Aguero also played a role in preparing for Ferran Torres’ goal 83 seconds later.
“There is nothing we can compare at that point for Manchester City in 2012,” Guardiola said. “But he’s shown again what he’s shown his entire career, time and time again – what a goal, what a player, what a man.”
Aguero once again helped Man City get their hands on the trophy – they only need two points in four games to clinch their last Premier League title, and could even do so without kicking a ball if Manchester United lost to Liverpool on Sunday, live at Sky Sports.
Months into his decade at Man City, Aguero hopes to contribute as many goals as possible to succeed for the club – could he achieve similar heroines to 2012 in the Champions League final, perhaps? It would certainly be a fitting end to a sparkling career at Man City.
One thing is for sure though, anyone who takes Aguero on a free this summer will get a striker who still has skill, talent and goals, as he demonstrated on Saturday.
“He’s an absolutely superior legend, an amazing player, acting like the most humble and kind human being and it’s not easy to find him. That’s why I love him as a man, ”Guardiola added.
“I hope he can go where he wants to be and play the last years of his career at a high level. I will never forget him, he has helped me a lot and it is a pleasure to work with him. . “
Chelsea prepare for Madrid clash
Thomas Tuchel was reportedly forgiven for having had an eye on Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg with Real Madrid, but he was adamant, despite five pre-match changes, that the attention of Chelsea only lied about Saturday’s derby with Fulham.
It was the kind of statement managers make time and time again, a statement they have almost minutes before a game, but any suggestion that his comments were declared to effect was dispelled by another flawless performance from Chelsea.
Yes, Tuchel made five changes, but Chelsea’s level of performance was just as ruthless and clinical as it has been since the German took the reins from Stamford Bridge.
Fulham’s quick start was extinguished by a moment of magic from Mason Mount and a cool finish from Kai Havertz, who killed the game and doubled his Premier League goal tally with a second earlier after the break.
Chelsea benefited from a measure of control throughout the day which allowed them to keep Fulham at bay with relative ease and, most importantly, left plenty of reserve ahead of the midweek clash with the 13 times. European champions.
If the victory over Fulham was symptomatic of Tuchel’s transformation of Chelsea, then Madrid’s visit to west London offers the German the opportunity to secure tangible reward for his efforts.
The case of the defense …
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has kept more clean sheets (11) than any coach in Premier League history since his first 15 games in charge of the competition (overtaking Mourinho and Scolari, 10 each of their 15 first).
Why isn’t Dunk in England a conversation?
A crisp chest pass to goalkeeper Robert Sanchez – who has drawn comparisons to Paolo Maldini from some quarterbacks – at 74 minutes sparked a thought: why isn’t Gareth Southgate looking at Lewis Dunk?
Conor Coady appears to be the likely replacement for John Stones and Harry Maguire at the Euros due to his ability to play in the heart of a full three. But Dunk is just as, if not more, effective at such a role judged by his performance in the second half of this season. He’s the team’s best defense leader in the last nine games, conceding 39 goals and has kept six clean sheets in their last eight home games.
He was absolutely flawless in this win over Leeds, knocking out Patrick Bamford from the game, who failed to shoot on goal, and pushing back everything Leeds gathered in his direction. When you consider the lack of options at the center of England’s defense, it is a mystery that he only has one cap for his country.
Usually so reserved Brighton boss Graham Potter was beaming in his assessment of his skipper: “His performance was sensational,” he said.
“I haven’t seen him play that well. He’s been so consistent at a high level. How he leads the line, he’s been amazing today.”
Leicester top four still uninsured
Stranger things happened when West Ham propelled Leicester into the top four of the last five games of the season. The gap with the Foxes could be narrowed to five points by the end of the weekend, with a tough collision ahead for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
The Leicester manager’s sense of déjà vu will not have been helped by the Foxes not enjoying their far easier game at Southampton on Friday night, especially when said opponent won only two games out of 15, and especially when they are forced to play more than 80 minutes with 10 men.
Trips to Manchester United and Chelsea are yet to come, along with the distraction – and fatigue – of an FA Cup final appearance, and it’s not too late for Leicester’s bubble to burst for the second season in a row. .
“The football they played has been so good, but after their wobble last year you are just wondering if it could happen again,” Jamie Redknapp said on Friday night football after their draw at St Mary’s, but added a word of encouragement: “I think this team is too good this year and learned from mistakes last season.”
Concerns that fourth place would not qualify for the Champions League would require Chelsea to finish outside the top four, meaning West Ham would likely have to finish third for Leicester to be in trouble – even in the David Moyes’ wildest dreams that seem exaggerated.
But foxes can draw on a note of positivity. It’s hard to congratulate a team losing points against the most out of form team in the division, but let’s look at it from a very low bar – Leicester’s run last season.
It is quite possible that at this point in 2019/20, when the Foxes have won just two of their last eight games to miss the Champions League, after falling behind on James Ward-Prowse’s penalty at the The hour they might not have had enough character to push their way past the low block and stubbornly defend Southampton.
It took struggle and perseverance. And yes, it still lacked quality and creativity, but mental toughness is needed in spades in this part of a campaign. Especially when you have trips to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and Wembley ahead.
Parker still believes but Fulham is running out of steam
Fulham was sidelined by Chelsea with the minimum of fuss in the West London derby and that leaves their Premier League status in limbo.
The 2-0 loss leaves Scott Parker’s side in 18th place, with nine points adrift from Newcastle and Burnley having played a game bigger than their relegation rivals. And with just 12 points to go, it’s a really big order for Fulham.
However, Parker still believes his team can give themselves a shot at survival … he must, but he also knows how difficult it will be for his team.
When asked what Fulham needed from his last four games to survive, Parker said: “Four wins. It can be done. We have to win four games. What I know is if we keep At this level, we have a chance to beat Burnley, then beat Southampton, Man Utd then Newcastle. Of course, it’s tough. “
Fulham remain winless in their last 24 Premier League derbies in London (D5 L19), since a 2-1 win over West Ham in January 2014 – in high-flying history only Crystal Palace has suffered a longer run without a win in the London derbies (31 matches between August 1969 – March 1973).
These are admirable things of Parker considering Fulham has never won four Premier League games in a row.
“That’s the challenge for us,” added the Fulham boss. “I understand. But anyone who watched this game today will see a team that wanted to win. I know we can win four games and that’s our goal. It would be a breakout, but we’ve seen it before.
“People will laugh at their screens and think I live in cuckooland. Maybe I am. But until that curtain falls, we’ll see.”
He might be the only person to believe, but what is certain is that Parker will give his best and demand the same from his side until relegation is confirmed.