EPL

'Incredible' Saka impresses Guardiola as City close out win at Arsenal

By Sports Desk February 21, 2021

Bukayo Saka was one of the Arsenal players who made Manchester City suffer during their 1-0 win at Emirates Stadium, according to Pep Guardiola.

Raheem Sterling's second-minute header was enough for City to extend their record-breaking winning run in all competitions to 18 matches and restore a 10-point advantage at the Premier League summit.

Guardiola's side briefly threatened to run away with the contest, but Saka's threat from the left flank brought Arsenal back into the match.

The 19-year-old England international completed all three of his attempted dribbles, while three shots were more than any of his team-mates managed.

"All the team suffered when Arsenal had the ball," Guardiola told a post-match news conference

"With [Martin] Odegaard and especially with Saka they are a really tough opponent to play. They have incredible young, talented players and I see a bright, bright future for Arsenal.

"If they can get a few players in a few positions they will make an incredible step forward. They are a team who make all the opponents suffer a lot when they play against them."

There are perhaps no City players more adept when it comes to addressing the suffering their manager identified than veteran holding midfielder Fernandinho.

The 35-year-old club captain made his first Premier League start since the end of January and gained possession nine times – more than any other City player.

Fernandinho also stood above his team-mates in terms of clearances (four), tackles (three) and interceptions (two).

"What a game, what a game he played – without the ball, winning duels in the important moments," Guardiola said.

"Rodri has been exceptional but needs rest. What a game Fernandinho played. He is an incredible player, person and captain.

"Always, I will remember him. We have been together since day one and he has been so important."

That association could come to an end at the end of the season, when Fernandinho's contract expires, but Guardiola suggested he could be capable of similar feats next term.

"Why not? He's so incredible," he added. "He knows exactly what he has to do. What a game he played in a tough, tough game."

Related items

  • Spurs complete Richarlison signing Spurs complete Richarlison signing

    Tottenham have completed the signing of Brazil international forward Richarlison from Everton.

    The deal is rumoured to be worth an initial £50million, while add-ons could take the full figure to £60m.

    Richarlison has signed a five-year contract at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and has become Spurs' fourth signing ahead of the new season after Fraser Forster, Ivan Perisic and Yves Bissouma.

    If the deal does eventually reach the full £60m, it would make Richarlison the club's record signing.

    The 25-year-old joined Everton from Watford in 2018 and had been a key figure at the club ever since that £50m move.

    He played a vital role in helping Everton avoid relegation from the Premier League last season, scoring six of his 10 top-flight goals in the club's final nine games as Frank Lampard's side ended the campaign 16th.

    Richarlison scored and assisted (five) more Premier League goals than any other Everton player in the 2021-22 season, and his 29 chances created was the fifth-highest in the squad.

    Only four Everton players racked up more Premier League minutes than the former Fluminense attacker, and his 10 goals came from 10.1 expected goals (xG), suggesting he was reliable in front of goal in the context of the quality of chances provided by team-mates.

    Chelsea had been mentioned as a potential destination for Richarlison, but Spurs have acted decisively in getting a deal over the line, with the Blues seemingly preoccupied with their pursuit of Leeds United's Raphinha.

    Spurs are reported to also be targeting a move for Richarlison's now former Everton team-mate Anthony Gordon, while Barcelona centre-back Clement Lenglet is expected to be their next signing.

  • Lyon and Head rip through Sri Lanka as Australia ease to 10-wicket win Lyon and Head rip through Sri Lanka as Australia ease to 10-wicket win

    Nathan Lyon tormented Sri Lanka again and Travis Head made a surprise impact with the ball as Australia eased to a crushing 10-wicket victory on day three of the first Test.

    Asitha Fernando dismissed Pat Cummins and Mitchell Swepson in the second over of the day to bowl the tourists out for 321 at the Galle International Stadium on Friday.

    That gave the World Test Championship leaders a 109-run advantage and they were only just required to bat again, as Sri Lanka were skittled out for only 113 in a second innings that lasted only 22.5 overs.

    Australia were set five to win and David Warner struck Ramesh Mendis for four and then a six to give them a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

    Dimuth Karunaratne, who top scored with 23, and Pathum Nissanka combined for an opening stand of 37, but that proved to be a false dawn as they endured an almighty collapse on a miserable day in which they lost Angelo Mathews to COVID-19.

    Lyon (4-31) had captain Karunaratne caught behind and Swepson trapped Nissanka (14) leg before prior to Kusal Mendis falling to Australia's premier spinner.

    Swepson (2-34) had Oshada Fernando – drafted in to replace Mathews – caught by Steve Smith in the slips before part-time spinner Head, who had not previously taken a Test wicket, got in on the act.

    Head generated sharp turn from outside off stump to bowl Dinesh Chandimal and got rid of Dhananjaya de Silva in his next over as the procession of wickets continued.

    Sorry Sri Lanka lost their last six wickets for 18 runs, Lyon adding another two to his tally to claim nine for the match and Head making a case that he should bowl more often as he finished with brilliant figures of 4-10.

    Lyon moves into top 10

    Sri Lanka were unable to handle Lyon, who finished with match figures of 9-121.

    That moved the tweaker into the top 10 on the list of the all-time highest Test wicket-takers with 435, level with India legend Kapil Dev.

    Sri Lanka's batting woes come to a Head

    Batter Head sent down 228 deliveries in his Test career without taking a wicket before he stepped up to resemble a frontline spinner on a dramatic third day.

    He picked up his four scalps in only 2.5 overs, adding insult to injury on a nightmare day for Sri Lanka.

  • The Spain youngsters proving another dynasty could be on the horizon The Spain youngsters proving another dynasty could be on the horizon

    Spain's triumph at Euro 2012 proved to be the final flourish for one of the greatest ever international sides, with La Roja winning three consecutive international tournaments.

    Prior to victory in Euro 2008, Spain had not won an international competition since 1964 and had been perennial underachievers. 

    But that swiftly changed with the Euros win followed up by World Cup success in South Africa in 2010 before the successful defence of their continental crown.

    The triumph in 2012 was the end of an era, however, with Spain eliminated in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup, bowing out at in the last 16 at Euro 2016 and then losing to hosts Russia on penalties at the 2018 World Cup.

    However, a turn in fortunes was shown at Euro 2020, played in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, when Spain reached the semi-finals of the competition, narrowly losing to eventual champions Italy.

    Now, all eyes are focused on Qatar this year. With Spain in a tough group alongside Germany, Japan and Costa Rica, a new dawn of young talents will be decisive to the hopes of the nation.
     

    Pedri

    Pedri's international debut came in Spain's second World Cup qualifying match against Georgia and he soon established himself as a core part of the squad for Euro 2020, where he played all but a single minute and was named Young Player of the Tournament.

    In the semi-final against Italy, Pedri shone as he completed 65 of 67 passing attempts and overall at the tournament, he failed to complete just 40 of 461 attempts, resulting in a passing accuracy of 91 per cent.

    Understandably, this has led to the general consensus that Pedri is the heir apparent to Xavi and Andres Iniesta, who were vital for Spain's glory years a decade ago, and under the stewardship of the former at Barcelona, expectations are high.

    Still a teenager and only turning 20 in the days after what is expected to be his World Cup debut against Costa Rica on November 23, his calm and composed demeanour will help to keep Spain ticking through midfield in Qatar.

    Gavi

    The other half of Barcelona's exciting midfield duo, Gavi too has settled into Spain's international fold since his debut appearance in the semi-finals of the Nations League against Italy – where he became the youngest-ever player to represent Spain's senior squad.

    A further record would tumble last month in the Nations League clash against the Czech Republic, where he became his country's youngest-ever scorer, and he has accumulated 10 appearances for his national side in less than a year.

    Gavi's creativity has proven to be a stellar asset for his national side and his movement across the field, shown by his touches during his international career, is extremely difficult to track – and noticeably touches inside the box are few and far between.

    Just 14 of 321 touches have come inside the 18-yard box, with his work tending to orientate from a deeper role. That is reflected by his passes – with just eight passing attempts inside the box and the remaining 234 coming outside.

    Ansu Fati

    Earning an international debut in September 2020 against Germany, then scoring a few days later against Ukraine, Ansu Fati notched up four caps for Spain before the close of that year but injury problems derailed his progress for club and country.

    A nine-month absence began in November 2020, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season, and a further injury setback occurred in January this year which saw him miss three months of the campaign before his return in May.

    While his international football has been limited ahead of the World Cup, expectations remain high at Barcelona where he has netted 19 goals during his career – with 15 of those strikes coming from inside the box.

    That results in a significant asset for Spain, as Pedri and Gavi often provide the sort of passes that Fati thrives on.

    Fati could prove particularly important given La Roja are limited with central options in the attacking third.

    Eric Garcia

    While not commanding as many headlines as other young talents within the Spain squad, Eric Garcia's role in the years ahead is vital given the ageing defensive line La Roja have at their disposal.

    In the most recent call-ups in June, Garcia was the only defender under the age of 25 and one of only three beneath 30, alongside Pau Torres and Diego Llorente, which shows a clear changing of the guard lying ahead.

    Garcia is likely to be one of the first names on Spain's teamsheet in the heart of defence, with 17 caps since making his international debut in 2020 and having started five of Spain's World Cup qualifying matches.

    In true Spain style, one of his greatest assets is his ability on the ball and he showcased that last month in Spain's 2-0 Nations League against the Czech Republic, where Garcia completed 110 of 115 pass attempts.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.