9 years in the past, Sergio Aguero wrote his identify into soccer folklore together with his 93.20 purpose to win Manchester Metropolis their first Premier League title and has continued to be their ‘Mr Dependable’ ever since.
On Saturday, he did it once more – albeit in far much less dramatic circumstances. Man Metropolis had laboured within the first half, struggling to search out that spark to edge them nearer to Premier League glory.
He had confirmed indicators of the unimaginable expertise he possess, however his management and end from Benjamin’s Mendy very good cross was world class. Aguero additionally had a job within the build-up to Ferran Torres’ purpose 83 seconds later.
“There’s nothing we are able to evaluate to that second for Manchester Metropolis in 2012,” Guardiola mentioned. “However he is proven once more what he has proven all his profession, many instances – what a purpose, what a participant, what a person.”
Aguero has as soon as once more helped Man Metropolis to place one hand on the trophy – they want simply two factors from 4 video games to clinch their newest Premier League crown, and will even achieve this with out kicking a ball if Manchester United lose to Liverpool on Sunday, reside on Sky Sports activities.
With only a few months left of his decade at Man Metropolis, Aguero shall be hoping to contribute as many objectives as attainable to realize success for the membership – might he carry out comparable heroics to 2012 in a Champions League remaining, maybe? It could definitely be a becoming finish to a glittering Man Metropolis profession.
One factor is for certain although, whoever snaps Aguero up on a free this summer season shall be getting a striker who nonetheless has baggage of talent, expertise and objectives, simply as he demonstrated on Saturday.
“He is a fully high legend, extraordinary participant, behaving as essentially the most humble and nicest human being and it is not simple to search out that. That is why I like him as a person,” Guardiola added.
“Hopefully he can go within the place he needs to be and play the final years of his profession in a excessive stage. I by no means will neglect it, he helped me lots and it is a pleasure to work with him.”
Thomas Tuchel would have been forgiven for having an eye fixed on Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg with Actual Madrid, however he was adamant, regardless of making 5 pre-match alterations, that Chelsea focus lied solely on Saturday’s derby with Fulham.
It was the form of assertion managers make repeatedly, one they nearly must minutes earlier than a sport, however any suggestion his feedback had been mentioned for impact had been dispelled by one other flawless Chelsea efficiency.
Sure Tuchel made 5 modifications, however Chelsea’s stage of efficiency was simply as ruthless and medical as they’ve been for the reason that German took the reins at Stamford Bridge.
Fulham’s quick begin was extinguished by a second of magic from Mason Mount and a cool end from Kai Havertz, who killed off the sport and doubled his Premier League objectives tally with a second early after the break.
Chelsea loved a measure of management all through which allowed them to maintain Fulham at arm’s size with relative ease and, crucially, left loads in reserve forward of the midweek showdown with the 13-time European champions.
If the victory over Fulham was symptomatic of Tuchel’s transformation of Chelsea, then Madrid’s go to to west London presents the German with the chance to safe a tangible reward for his efforts.
The case for the defence…
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has stored extra clear sheets (11) than every other supervisor in Premier League historical past from their first 15 video games in cost within the competitors (overtaking Mourinho and Scolari, 10 every from their first 15).
It might have come too late for Aston Villa to generate sufficient momentum in the direction of snatching a European spot, however in beating Everton 2-1, Ollie Watkins might but cap a memorable first season within the Premier League with a spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for this summer season’s European Championships.
Watkins produced a massively spectacular show at Goodison Park, bullying Mason Holgate for his fifteenth membership purpose in all competitions and the striker confirmed good improvisation to very almost rating a second throughout an intriguing particular person battle with Jordan Pickford.
Certainly, the striker has scored 13 objectives within the Premier League this season – just one Englishman has scored extra for Aston Villa in a single season within the competitors (Julian Joachim, 14 in 1998/99).
Have been it not for Pickford, Villa would have held a commanding lead earlier than half-time. Watkins wasn’t alone in impressing, however supervisor Dean Smith reserved particular reward for the person he additionally managed at Brentford.
“He was excellent tonight and really tough to deal with. It is what we paid some huge cash for. I knew how good he was, and I knew what he is like as an individual, eager to develop and get higher. I assumed he was excellent. He pickpocketed the defender properly to attain his purpose and Pickford regained parity with a number of the saves he made as properly.”
This was one other massively irritating evening at Goodison for Everton, who should iron out the errors of their remaining 5 Premier League video games if they’re to retain any hope of securing a European berth. The Toffees have gained simply one among their final 10 dwelling league video games, with that victory coming in opposition to Southampton in March.
It’s exhausting for Carlo Ancelotti to place a finger on why the performances on the street can’t be mirrored again on Merseyside.
“We weren’t ok,” the Italian mentioned. “It was fully totally different from the final sport we performed in opposition to Arsenal with extra focus, extra spirit and extra perspective. The beginning of the sport was actually unhealthy and there have been quite a lot of poor passes.
“We had alternatives however we additionally conceded lots and in the long run we deserved to lose and so it is tough to say why we’ve this sort of dwelling run. It is a fully totally different group with a totally totally different perspective.”
Solely Sheffield United and Fulham have misplaced extra Premier League dwelling video games than Everton (eight), whose away report is just bettered by Manchester Metropolis. Enormous lapses in focus in the end price them in opposition to an Aston Villa facet who regarded higher ready.
With James Rodriguez injured within the warm-up, Everton lacked steadiness. Andre Gomes is easing his manner again to full health, however he was once more wasteful in possession because the hosts struggled to realize a foothold. Ancelotti arrived with a 60 per cent win report as a supervisor, however he’s discovering out the dimensions of his activity in turning Everton right into a facet befitting of his illustrious profession.
When pressed on the impression of Rodriguez’s absence, Ancelotti added: “He had a bit drawback and wasn’t comfy to play. However I believe he will be OK within the subsequent sport. We had some particular person errors, however the group spirit and the group work wasn’t ok.”
An impeccable chested move again to his goalkeeper Robert Sanchez – that drew comparisons with Paolo Maldini from some quarters – on 74 minutes triggered a thought: why is not Gareth Southgate watching Lewis Dunk?
Conor Coady appears to be the probably back-up for John Stones and Harry Maguire on the Euros attributable to his capability to play on the coronary heart of a again three. However Dunk is equally, if no more, efficient at such position judged on his performances within the second half of this season. He’s the chief in the most effective defence of sides within the backside 9, conceding 39 objectives and has stored six clear sheets of their final eight dwelling video games.
He was completely faultless on this victory over Leeds, marking Patrick Bamford out of the sport, who didn’t have a shot at purpose, and repelling all the pieces Leeds mustered in his path. When you think about the shortage of choices within the centre of England’s defence, how he solely has one cap for his nation is a thriller.
Brighton boss Graham Potter, often so reserved, was beaming in his evaluation of his skipper: “His efficiency was sensational,” he mentioned.
“I have never seen him play in addition to that. He is been so constant at a excessive stage. How he leads the road, he was wonderful immediately.”
Stranger issues have occurred than West Ham pipping Leicester to a top-four place within the remaining 5 video games of the season. The hole to the Foxes may very well be decreased to 5 factors by the tip of the weekend, with a tough run-in to observe for Brendan Rodgers’ facet.
The Leicester supervisor’s sense of deja vu won’t have been aided by the Foxes failing to benefit from by far their best remaining sport at Southampton on Friday evening, particularly when mentioned opponent has gained solely two out of 15 video games, and much more particularly when they’re compelled to play for greater than 80 minutes with 10 males.
Journeys to Manchester United and Chelsea are nonetheless to return, plus the distraction – and fatigue – of an FA Cup remaining look, and it’s not too late for Leicester’s bubble to burst for the second season in a row.
“The soccer they’ve performed has been so good, however after their wobble final 12 months you’re simply involved whether or not it might occur once more,” Jamie Redknapp mentioned on Friday Evening Soccer after their draw at St Mary’s, however added a phrase of encouragement: “I believe this group is simply too good this 12 months and have realized from final season’s errors.”
Worries about fourth spot lacking out on Champions League qualification would wish Chelsea to complete exterior the highest 4, which means West Ham would probably have to complete in third place for Leicester to be in hassle – even in David Moyes’ wildest desires that appears a stretch.
However the Foxes can draw on one be aware of positivity. It is tough to reward a facet dropping factors in opposition to essentially the most out-of-form group within the division however let us take a look at it from a really low bar – Leicester’s run-in final season.
It is fairly attainable that at this stage in 2019/20, when the Foxes gained solely two of their remaining eight video games to overlook out on the Champions League, that after falling behind to James Ward-Prowse’s penalty on the hour mark, they won’t have had sufficient sufficient character to dig their well past low block and dogged defending of Southampton.
It took struggle, and it took persistence. And sure, it nonetheless lacked high quality and creativity, however psychological power is required in spades on this a part of a marketing campaign. Particularly once you’ve bought journeys to Outdated Trafford, Stamford Bridge and Wembley nonetheless to return.
Fulham had been brushed apart by Chelsea with the minimal of fuss within the west London derby and it leaves their Premier League standing hanging by a thread.
The two-0 defeat leaves Scott Parker’s facet in 18th place, 9 factors adrift of Newcastle and Burnley having crucially performed a sport greater than their relegation rivals. And with simply 12 factors left to play for it is a actually tall order for Fulham.
Nevertheless, Parker nonetheless believes his facet may give themselves an opportunity of survival… he has to, however he additionally is aware of how tough will probably be for his facet.
When requested what Fulham want from their remaining 4 video games to outlive, Parker mentioned: “4 wins. It may be carried out. We have now to win 4 video games. What I do know is that if we preserve this stage we’ve probability of beating Burnley, then beating Southampton, Man Utd after which Newcastle. After all, it’s tough.”
Fulham stay winless of their final 24 Premier League London derbies (D5 L19), since a 2-1 victory in opposition to West Ham in January 2014 – in top-flight historical past, solely Crystal Palace have endured an extended winless run in London derbies (31 video games between August 1969 – March 1973).
It is admirable stuff from Parker contemplating Fulham have by no means gained 4 Premier League video games in a row.
“That’s the problem for us,” the Fulham boss added. “I perceive it. However anybody who watched this sport immediately will see a group who wished to win. I do know we are able to win 4 video games and that’s our purpose. It could be some escape, however we have seen it earlier than.
“Individuals will snort at their screens and assume I am residing in cuckooland. Perhaps I’m. However till that curtain comes down, we’ll see.”
He often is the solely one that believes, however what is definite is Parker will give it his all and demand the identical from his facet till relegation is confirmed.