Man City’s risk-vs-reward style paying off for Guardiola

first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP): Manchester City’s risk-versus-reward approach under Pep Guardiola was summed up in one passage of play during a Champions League match against Celtic. With two opponents closing in, City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo coolly slid a pass between them to midfielder Fernandinho on the edge of the area. Pressured by two more hounding Celtic players, Fernandinho produced a Cruyff turn to create space for himself and burst upfield. Just like that, Celtic was opened up and City was launching another attack. Guardiola acknowledges his possession-based style is fraught with danger but it’s been getting results, with City making its best-ever start to a season in winning 10 straight games and scoring 30 goals in the process. It sparked talk of City winning the Premier League at a canter. However, a 3-3 draw at Celtic on Wednesday that ended City’s winning run exposed potential fallibilities in Guardiola’s side. Bravely standing toe to toe with City, Celtic pressed high, hassled relentlessly and looked to outmuscle City’s ball-playing defenders. It worked, with City enduring an uncomfortable night at atmospheric Parkhead, especially at the back. Sitting deep against City and attempting to soak up pressure has got teams nowhere so far. Celtic have shown fellow sides the blueprint to trouble Guardiola’s side: Take them on. As it happens, Tottenham one of the best proponents of a high-energy, high-intensity pressing game are City’s next opponents in the standout match of the Premier League this weekend. It’s first versus second in the standings, a meeting between two unbeaten teams. Tottenham will know Bravo isn’t great under the high ball and takes risks with the ball at his feet. They’ll know the likely centre-back pairing of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi can be brittle. And they’ll know the absence of injured playmaker Kevin De Bruyne takes some creativity out of City’s side. Tottenham beat City home and away last season, but it will be a huge task to stop the new-look City juggernaut. Guardiola has got City operating at previously unseen levels. The team’s biggest problem under his predecessor as manager, Manuel Pellegrini, was its work rate. But under Guardiola, City is second behind Liverpool in the “distance covered” category, according to sports data company Opta. Dropping Yaya Toure has helped City in this regard. Guardiola is getting the best out of winger Raheem Sterling, who was a disappointment last season after signing for $76 million, by giving him self-belief and playing to his strengths by getting him one on one with defenders as much as possible. He has five goals already. Likewise, Aleksandar Kolarov is looking like a different player under Guardiola, who has even turned the Serbia left back into a ball-playing centre back with mixed results. Playmaker David Silva looks liberated now that he is playing more centrally. Then there’s Sergio Aguero, a scorer of 11 goals in seven games this season. Guardiola is still asking for more from the striker, saying he has to work harder when City isn’t in possession to help the team. That sums up Guardiola’s demanding approach. As does his removal from the first team of goalkeeper Joe Hart and Toure, who were mainstays for the past six years. They didn’t fit his philosophy Hart for his poor footwork and Toure for his lack of intensity in midfield so they’ve been banished. “I want to have control,” Guardiola said after City beat Manchester United 2-1 this month. He was talking about his ball-possession, but he could so easily have been referring to his grip on the squad. WALCOTT’S REVIVAL Theo Walcott’s future at Arsenal looked bleak after a disappointing last season when he was mostly used off the bench and lost his place in the England squad. Now it appears he’s back to his best. Walcott has started all of Arsenal’s league games, and has scored four goals in his last three games ahead of Sunday’s match at Burnley. The pacey winger credits his improved form to a chat he had with manager Arsene Wenger during the off season. “I want it more than anyone else,” Walcott said. Arsenal is unbeaten in eight games since losing to Liverpool on the opening weekend.last_img read more

Aussies ‘feared for safety’ after brawl vs Gilas

first_imgAustralia Boombers during their huddle. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netA “bruised and battered” Australian team feared for its safety and sought government help to escape the court after a mass brawl with the Philippine side at an international match in Manila, officials said Tuesday.Basketball’s governing body FIBA has launched a probe following the chaos at Monday’s World Cup qualifying match where players exchanged flying kicks and punches.ADVERTISEMENT Bicol riders extend help to Taal evacuees Japan ‘devastated’ as it fails again to go past World Cup’s last 16 READ: Gilas runs out of players, loses to Australia in ugly, bizarre game“Physically our players are fine, they’re, you know, bruised and battered,” Moore said.“Our athletes and coaches actually stayed on the court for a considerable amount of time, (it was) the safest place for our players and our coaches,” he said, adding the team are flying out of Manila later Tuesday.After the incident FIBA tweeted it was opening disciplinary proceedings against both teams, adding “The decision(s) will be communicated in the coming days”.READ: SBP apologizes for Gilas-Australia brawl Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the governing body for the sport in the PH, has issued an apology for the incident, saying it stands by its conviction that “violence has no place in sports.”“As hosts, we regret having breached the bounds of traditional Filipino hospitality. As the national team representing flag and country, we likewise extend our apologies to the Filipino people,” the statement read.Thon Maker, one two NBA players on the Australian side, tweeted Tuesday he was “deeply disappointed in the actions displayed” and was taking responsibility for his own actions.READ: Andrew Bogut blasts Gilas for selfie after brawl“My hope is that this experience provides a springboard for discussion regarding the security surrounding these games,” said the South Sudan-born Milwaukee Bucks center, who was ejected from the match. READ: Brawl breaks out in Gilas-Australia gameA total of 13 players were ejected after the melee, with television footage showing a fan punching one of the Australian players and another fan throwing a chair at a visiting player.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown“We had our players and team management and our coaches in fear of their physical safety,” Basketball Australia chief executive Anthony Moore told a news conference.“Are we going to be able to get out of here unscathed?” Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Tim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown Cloudy skies over Luzon due to amihan Christopher Tolkien, son of Lord of the Rings author, dies aged 95 MOST READ In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ The Filipino players were later roundly roasted in social media after several members were photographed taking a group selfie apparently after the fight.“Class,” NBA veteran Andrew Bogut, who has played previously for the Australian national team, wrote while re-tweeting a news account of the Filipino selfie.RELATED VIDEO Taal victims get help from Kalayaan town Jury of 7 men, 5 women selected for Harvey Weinstein rape trial View comments Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. READ: Reyes says Australia’s Kickert ‘triggered the brawl’ after hit on PogoyMoore said the Aussies “accept our responsibility for our role in last night’s incident” and were waiting for the sport’s governing body’s findings and sanctions.“What we don’t accept is the action whereby fans and officials actually get involved in the fray,” he said.The fracas kicked off after a Philippine player appeared to catch an opponent with an elbow in the game at the Philippine Arena outside Manila.Moore said the visitors kept their players and coaches courtside after the game and sought help from the Australian embassy to get the team safely out to their bus and their hotel.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water recedinglast_img read more