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Tag: Pep Guadiola

Manchester City

Manchester City poised to make History

Never in the history of Manchester City has the club ever played in the UEFA Champions League Finals. Only once has Manchester City reached the semi-final stage of the UEFA Champions League. That was in the 2015/2016 season under coach Manuel Pellegrini. Manchester City was eliminated by Real Madrid 1-0, after a barren draw in the first Leg.

Today, the 4th of April, 2021, the current EPL Leaders, and one of the only two English clubs remaining in the competition, play host to Paris Saint Germaine of France in a crunch 2nd Leg UCL encounter. The first Leg ended 2-1 in City’s favour, with goals coming from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.

What Manchester City needs to progress to the final for the very first time is a win, a draw or a 1-0 loss. On current form, Manchester City is the overwhelming favourite to progress ahead of the Parisian club, with Kylian Mbappe, the danger man of PSG rumoured to be nursing an injury.

Pep Guardiola is expected to keep the same starting eleven that achieved a huge result in Paris, except for one or two changes at left-back, where Oleksander Zinchenko is expected to start in place of Joao Cancelo.

The expectation is high, and all eyes would be on the home side to perform at their very best. Gundogan, Rodri and Bernardo Silva are expected to orchestrate the midfield, while Ruben Dias who has been a Trojan in defence is expected to start alongside John Stone or Aymeric Laporte. Kyle Walker is a sure berth at right-back.

In between the sticks, Ederson Moraes is assured of his place after a splendid performance in the first leg. Upfront, Riyad Mahrez, Foden and Debruyne are expected to start. Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Fernandinho, Nathan Ake, Ferran Torres and Benjamin Mendy are options on the bench.

One notable absentee from the PSG side would be Senegalese defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye who was red-carded in the first leg after a reckless challenge on IILkay Gundogan. Danilo Periera is expected to take his place.

History beckons on Manchester City and the beauty about today’s clash are the motivation and spirit within the camp. It would be the last chance for Sergio Kun Aguero to have a feel of the coveted trophy, and the boys would want to give him a perfect parting gift.

Both sides are desperate to reach the finals, and Brazilian international Neymar speaking ahead of the encounter says “I am ready to die on the pitch to ensure my team progress ahead of Manchester City”. That is surely a rallying call.

The match is billed to be an exciting encounter as both sides are noted for an attractive brand of football. The Etihad stadium beckons on the Manchester City warriors to make a push for history. Heroes are bound to be made and tears of sorrow and disappointment will surely flow. The end of 90 minutes will determine the course of history.

hope

Hope keeps the heart alive

On November 4, 2008, Senator Barack Obama defeated John McCain to become the 44th President of the United States of America. By that victory, he also became the first African elected to the White House.

Before the election, the young senator wrote the best selling book titled: “The audacity of Hope”. It was an intriguing book that showcased the American dream and the possibility of achieving these lofty dreams.

That same sentiment has always kept some individuals strong, even in the face of daunting challenges. A few days ago, I shared my sentiment concerning the tenacity of Arsenal FC fans.

I tweeted: “Sometimes you got to praise the courage and resilience of Arsenal fans. Season after season, that constant heartbreaking experience never weigh them down. I draw inspiration from them and this week I’ll be writing an article dedicated to all Arsenal fans. You deserve all the Love”

Funny enough, the football season started on a very beautiful note for the London side, as they clinched both the FA Cup and the Community shield. An ecstatic Mikel Arteta was over the moon as he savored two trophies in his new managerial career at Arsenal.

The mood among Arsenal fans was even made merrier with the litany of signings in the summer transfer window. In came the likes of Thomas Partey, Gabriel Magalhaes, Willian, Runar Alex Runarsson, Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares, and Dani Ceballos.

The hope of a good run in the new season was high. Defense, midfield, and attack had been fortified. Unai Emery had been shown the exit door and Mikel Arteta was given a warm reception.

Everything was put in motion to ensure Arsenal brings back the glory years, and the FA Cup and Community shield triumph was an appetizer to the ever-loyal Arsenal faithful.

Fast forward to week 12 of the 2020/2021 English Premier League season, and Arsenal are rooted in the 15th position in the EPL Log after an embarrassing 1-0 loss at home to Burnley. It was not the first time they were losing at home this season.

Sundays’ loss to Burnley was Arsenal’s 4th consecutive home defeat at home this season. The initial hope that came with Mikel Arteta’s coming and the new signings have fizzled out. The alarm bell has started ringing, as rumors have started going around about the possibility of looking for a new manager.

It has indeed been a turbulent time for Arsenal supporters, as they have endured years of pain. The pain of going from season to season without a major trophy can be so devastating, but the ever-resilient gunner fans have always stood behind the club and players.

The audacity of hope can be seen in the play, as they keep dreaming about some positive moment. Unfortunately, someone jokingly tweeted about Arsenal’s trophyless run after Diego Maradona died recently. “Did you know that Diego Maradona died without seeing arsenal winning the champions league, he lived for 60 years

It was a rather embarrassing fact, that highlight the long wait for Joy among the Arsenal fans. Indeed, things have not gone according to plan this season, and confidence is at an all-time low among players.

Mesut Ozil

There have been fingers pointing at the ill-treatment meted out to Mesut Özil as been responsible for Arsenals dismal display so far. Indeed, the creative midfielder has been frozen from Arsenals first team since March 2020.

He remains Arsenal’s most creative midfielder and there is already a clamor for his recall to the team. The possibility of Mesut linking up with the squad in January is high, even as pressure keeps mounting on Mikel Arteta.

Lack of goals

Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Eddie Nketiah have been used as Arsenal’s main striking options this season, but their goal return has been dismal. Aubameyang has played 12 premier league matches this season and has scored just 2 goals.

Alexandre Lacazette has played 8 matches and made 2 substitute appearances this season with 3 goals to show. Eddie Nketiah has started 1 premier league match and made 9 substitute appearances and has just 1 goal to his name. Unfortunately, goals can only come when chances are created. Sadly, creativity is absent in the middle of the pack.

The manager

Questions have been raised about the ability of Arteta to steer Arsenal from the murky water of despondency into a top 4 team that they are used to. As an assistant to Pep Guardiola, he was never faced with these sorts of challenges.

Experience at the top level may be lacking. How to rightly utilize players at his disposal is another challenge. How he handles the Mesut Ozil situation will further show his capacity as a manager. Technically, he still has few things to learn in the game, but helping Arsenal to a respectful finish seems to be the agenda for now.

The agony of hope

Watching Mikel Arteta’s post-match interview after the Burnley defeat was heart-rendering. He was pensive and almost in tears. I could imagine the pain and turmoil inside of him. He didn’t look too hopeful, just like millions of Arsenal fans who have already resigned themselves to whatever comes their way.

Arsenal’s next four games will be crucial

The next four games for Arsenal have assumed a more significant dimension considering the situation of the club. They play Southampton at home, Everton away and Manchester City in the EFL Cup Quarterfinal. They then welcome Chelsea at home on boxing day in a must-win game. If they drop points in three EPL games, they may be swimming in the murky waters of relegation.

The audacity of hope may eventually give way to the pain of resignation. It’s a lonely world out there and even in this festive season, let’s keep sending love and light to all Arsenal fans. They are the real heroes in this unique chapter of the club’s unenviable transition.

failure

Failure is part of the success story

Failure is the opposite of success. It is the inability to achieve a certain goal or objective in life. The painful thing about failure is that it tends to weigh down the individual, especially those who had a realistic expectation about the possibility of achieving greatness.

On 1st February 2016, Manchester City signed Pep Guardiola to a 3 years contract. It was the biggest signing of the club’s entire history, as Pep Guardiola is regarded as the best tactician in the round leather game.

The expectation from fans was high. The possibility of winning laurels became increasingly possible, as the new man in charge was known to have won loads of trophies while with Bayern Munchen of Germany and Barcelona of Spain.

Unfortunately, things never went the way of Manchester City, as they failed to win a single trophy in Pep’s first reign in charge as manager. The team came 3rd in the Premier League. They were knocked out in the Semi-Final of the FA Cup, by Arsenal 2-1 after extra time.

They could not defend the EFL trophy they won in the 2015/16 football season, as they were knocked out in the 4th round by Manchester United 1-0. It was a very sad moment in the club history as all their expectations were being met with failure.

The UEFA Champions League provided a ray of hope for supporters of Manchester City, as Pep Guardiola had previously won it with Barcelona. They however exited the tournament in the round of 16, as they got knocked out of the competition by the French team Monaco.

Pep’s first season was seen as a failure and the pain was obvious. It was disappointing, as the club went through the entire 2016/17 season with a taste of any trophy. That never slowed down the hunger for success among the players and the new manager.

The 2017/18 season saw the real hunger for success in Manchester City. Failure in the previous season had seen a huge appetite for success in the team. The burning desire is always there, each time we fail in life.

Manchester City emerged Champions of the English Premier League with an unprecedented 100 points from 38 matches. An amazing tally of 106 goals made it even sweeter. They won the EFL Cup, beating Arsenal 3-0 at Wembley.

The 2018/19 season was even better, as Manchester City won all three domestic trophies they entered for, including the community shield. They became the first team to ever hold all four of England’s primary football trophies.

Failure had indeed made the team stronger. It was a beautiful example of how we can learn more from failure than we can ever do from success. We can become inspired to do more when we fail in certain aspects of life.

It all starts from the inside. Never get so discouraged when things don’t go your way. Its all part of the success story. Good things sometimes take time. They don’t always come on the platter of Gold.

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