Blog

What Simeone's Atletico Madrid can learn from Liverpool's performance against Manchester City

Atleti's style needs to change and they need to take more risks before it's too late (Author: Gardener)

SimeoneThere's no denying that Atletico Madrid's approach to the Champions League quarter-final first leg was a mistake. A 1-0 defeat by Manchester City at the Etihad last Tuesday was far from ideal as the reigning La Liga champions didn't have a single chance to score. As a result, no one seems convinced they can turn that tie around next Wednesday during the return leg at the Wanda Metropolitano (3pm ET | Paramount+). Unsurprisingly, Atleti finished with 0.00 goals expected as they failed to score a single shot which is the wrong kind of record. They regularly had all 11 players behind the ball but couldn't get the result they wanted because City prevented Diego Simeone's attack from working properly in what was his most tactically challenging game of the season. It's clear the approach at home will be different, but if they miss the mark again with whatever changes they make, the rest of the way they'll be reduced to just spectators and watch their European dream elude them again. If they can carve out the lead they needed in the first leg while using Liverpool's performance against City at the weekend as a guide, then they can certainly achieve something that seems unlikely. Atleti is not a team that has a lot of possession. In fact, before losing to Man City and then losing to Mallorca at the weekend, Atleti had gone eight straight games without a win, despite going unbeaten in that span. They're comfortable not having the ball because their game revolves around their press and rushing on counterattacks. You can succeed in the round of 16 against the world's Manchester United or in your typical league affair against Cadiz, Levante and others. But against a team that likes to kill the game with a massive possession rate like Manchester City, a team that has ambitions to win the title and a squad that is embarrassed, you probably don't get a chance to sit back and to wait to capitalize on mistakes. Under Simeone, Atleti was known for his suffocating pressure, elite defensive form and execution. They've done it with Liverpool, Bayern Munich and many others, with Simeone having two UCL finals appearances and two European and La Liga titles to his name. In the first leg, City's first-ever clash with Atleti, they showed the kind of defensive prowess that's built into the DNA of Simeone's teams, not conceding a goal until the 70th minute and doing so without star central defender Jose Maria Gimenez. Atleti held City at their third-lowest xG of the season at 1.02. They are unlikely to be able to increase their possession significantly, particularly among staff, and Manchester City are expected to score. But to have any chance of a puncher against City in this game they need a completely different approach - perhaps by playing three in attack. First they have to look at what Liverpool did in Sunday's 2-2 draw with City. Sure the Liverpool squad is stronger and more talented but having three attacks to stretch the defense is a must and we've seen the Reds capitalize on Mohamed Salah's superb assist for Sadio Mane: The City Defense will aim to improve on their problems shown against Liverpool but just one moment can change that. Atleti must be ready to put the ball in space quickly and show his quality in attack. Having Luis Suarez as a target is probably not the answer as it was Liverpool's speed on that goal that really helped them. Losing this game 1-0 is the same as losing 2-0, which means conceding again doesn't matter if you're already losing if you don't try. Atleti have the ability of any team to reverse this and land a shocker but expect City to score. That means at least two goals will likely be required to progress and it will require putting bodies forward while keeping defenses thin. The first 15 minutes of this game will paint us a picture of what version of Atletico we will get. They need to rediscover their aggression, believe in their defenses with fewer forces, and simply get more men into attacking situations as early as possible. Otherwise, like in the first leg, they have no chance.

Read

What Simeone's Atletico Madrid can learn from Liverpool's performance against Manchester City

Atleti's style needs to change and they need to take more risks before it's too late (Author: Gardener)

SimeoneThere's no denying that Atletico Madrid's approach to the Champions League quarter-final first leg was a mistake. A 1-0 defeat by Manchester City at the Etihad last Tuesday was far from ideal as the reigning La Liga champions didn't have a single chance to score. As a result, no one seems convinced they can turn that tie around next Wednesday during the return leg at the Wanda Metropolitano (3pm ET | Paramount+). Unsurprisingly, Atleti finished with 0.00 goals expected as they failed to score a single shot which is the wrong kind of record. They regularly had all 11 players behind the ball but couldn't get the result they wanted because City prevented Diego Simeone's attack from working properly in what was his most tactically challenging game of the season. It's clear the approach at home will be different, but if they miss the mark again with whatever changes they make, the rest of the way they'll be reduced to just spectators and watch their European dream elude them again. If they can carve out the lead they needed in the first leg while using Liverpool's performance against City at the weekend as a guide, then they can certainly achieve something that seems unlikely. Atleti is not a team that has a lot of possession. In fact, before losing to Man City and then losing to Mallorca at the weekend, Atleti had gone eight straight games without a win, despite going unbeaten in that span. They're comfortable not having the ball because their game revolves around their press and rushing on counterattacks. You can succeed in the round of 16 against the world's Manchester United or in your typical league affair against Cadiz, Levante and others. But against a team that likes to kill the game with a massive possession rate like Manchester City, a team that has ambitions to win the title and a squad that is embarrassed, you probably don't get a chance to sit back and to wait to capitalize on mistakes. Under Simeone, Atleti was known for his suffocating pressure, elite defensive form and execution. They've done it with Liverpool, Bayern Munich and many others, with Simeone having two UCL finals appearances and two European and La Liga titles to his name. In the first leg, City's first-ever clash with Atleti, they showed the kind of defensive prowess that's built into the DNA of Simeone's teams, not conceding a goal until the 70th minute and doing so without star central defender Jose Maria Gimenez. Atleti held City at their third-lowest xG of the season at 1.02. They are unlikely to be able to increase their possession significantly, particularly among staff, and Manchester City are expected to score. But to have any chance of a puncher against City in this game they need a completely different approach - perhaps by playing three in attack. First they have to look at what Liverpool did in Sunday's 2-2 draw with City. Sure the Liverpool squad is stronger and more talented but having three attacks to stretch the defense is a must and we've seen the Reds capitalize on Mohamed Salah's superb assist for Sadio Mane: The City Defense will aim to improve on their problems shown against Liverpool but just one moment can change that. Atleti must be ready to put the ball in space quickly and show his quality in attack. Having Luis Suarez as a target is probably not the answer as it was Liverpool's speed on that goal that really helped them. Losing this game 1-0 is the same as losing 2-0, which means conceding again doesn't matter if you're already losing if you don't try. Atleti have the ability of any team to reverse this and land a shocker but expect City to score. That means at least two goals will likely be required to progress and it will require putting bodies forward while keeping defenses thin. The first 15 minutes of this game will paint us a picture of what version of Atletico we will get. They need to rediscover their aggression, believe in their defenses with fewer forces, and simply get more men into attacking situations as early as possible. Otherwise, like in the first leg, they have no chance.

Read

Seven early bird deals in the ranking including Christensen and Kessié to Barça, Carvalho to Liverpool

Here's a look at seven deals in advanced stages or already closed for the summer (Author: Gardener)

ChristensenClubs that focus on the timing of negotiations in the long term have great advantages, as the preparatory work of Manchester City, Real Madrid or Liverpool has shown in recent years. Therefore, the clubs have already started some negotiations between young talents or top players, partially signed or completed. We're still waiting for Christensen to get down to paper sooner rather than later as he verbally agreed a deal with Barcelona. The Danish defender is set to leave Chelsea at the end of the season as he sees this as an excellent opportunity to make a difference at Xavi Hernandez's side. The 26-year-old is a world-class defender who brings a wealth of experience to a young Barcelona squad. Bayern had their sights set on him, but Barça were quicker because they needed a new centre-back. Another excellent Barcelona deal and in this case the signings have already been completed along with the medical tests. Barcelona manager Xavi persuaded him despite Kessie receiving suggestions from the Premier League. The 25-year-old Ivorian was the best midfielder in Serie A at AC Milan last season and is now ready for a new experience. FC Bayern is closing in on one of the most talented midfielders in the world. The deal with Ajax is nearing completion as each party waits for the contracts to be signed. 19-year-old Gravenberch deserves the top 3 on our list because of his quality, talent and huge potential. Barcelona wanted Mazraoui but the choice is now destined for Bayern Munich in another deal struck with agent Mino Raiola, similar to Gravenberch. He is a perfect free agent as he brings a competitive pedigree and at 24 years old already has some experience in European and international competitions. Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann may have landed the perfect new right-back. The deal struck between Liverpool and Fulham for this talented Portuguese teenager fell through right on the winter deadline. But fret not Liverpool fans as Jurgen Klopp has since pushed for it as Carvalho will cost the Reds £5m plus £2.7m. Carvalho really has incredible potential and Klopp is the perfect manager to hone his skills and make him a household name in the future as he is set to join the first-team next season. AC Milan made this signing because they believe it can be an interesting deal for the present and the future. The talented young Frenchman comes from Bordeaux as a new midfielder for Stefano Pioli. Adli, 21, has excellent skills and the potential to make an instant impact in Serie A. Born in 2004, Savinho is a Brazilian winger who will join Manchester City from Atletico Mineiro in July. After graduating from Man City, he will receive 6.5 million euros plus surcharges.

Read

City beat Liverpool against Mikel Merino in £50m deal; Arsenal in Eden Hazard blow

Man City will beat Liverpool to sign Mikel Merino, Arsenal's prospects of signing Eden Hazard have plummeted while Romelu Lukaku is in serious transfer talks. (Author: Gardener)

Mikel MerinoManchester City are set to beat Liverpool by signing classy midfielder Mikel Merino, Arsenal's prospects of signing Eden Hazard have plummeted, while Monday's Paper Talk claimed Romelu Lukaku is in talks to join a European giant. Manchester City are leading the charge for Mikel Merino and appear to be at the front of the queue for his signature. The highly rated midfielder has developed into one of LaLiga's best midfielders since joining Real Sociedad. And the former Newcastle midfielder, who joined Sociedad in the summer of 2018 for just £10m, is now considered one of LaLiga's best. Merino, crowned 11 times by Spain, is also being linked with a summer move to Liverpool. The Reds are on the lookout for new midfield signings as they reflect on life after James Milner and one day Jordan Henderson. According to Goal, this is a fee that the city is willing to pay. They have reportedly been looking for Merino for some time and are now ready to go get it. Pep Guardiola appears to see Merino as a long-term replacement for Fernandinho in Manchester City's midfield. The 36-year-old signed a one-year extension last summer but has played an increasingly reduced role this season. Arsenal's chances of signing Eden Hazard this summer appear to be dwindling. The winger appears ready to leave Real Madrid this summer after failing to regain his best form. With his deal only running for a year, a summer exit seems on the cards. And reports last week claimed the Gunners had held positive talks with his representatives. However, with Real appearing to be aiming for a reduced fee for the Belgian's services, a number of other clubs are now also on the hunt. Now the Spanish newspaper Cadena Ser claims that a move to Borussia Dortmund is in sight. They claim that after their own talks, the Bundesliga side are likely to win the race to sign him. And BVB seem to have an ace in Hazard, who is interested in a reunion with his younger brother Thorgan. It is increasingly likely that Romelu Lukaku will leave Chelsea this summer after a miserable season. The huge £97.5m fee paid by the Blues has seriously backfired for all parties as the Belgian has only managed 12 goals in all competitions. Manager Thomas Tuchel has failed to get the best out of the striker, who was considered one of the best in the world during his time at Inter Milan. In fact, reports from last week suggested that an Inter return is on the horizon. claims his agents are now in talks over a summer move to PSG. They claim they want Lukaku to lead their attack next season with Lionel Messi looking increasingly likely to leave. A triumvirate of Kylian Mbappe - who is set to sign a new contract himself - and Neymar will be the new combination at Parc des Princes next season. There's no mention of a possible fee but Chelsea look set to suffer a significant loss for sure. Talks are reportedly already underway with the Ligue 1 giants who are seriously looking to sign him.

Read

Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool (Premier League)

A 2-2 draw with Liverpool was enough for Manchester City to maintain a narrow one-point lead at the top of the Premier League table this weekend in a clash that certainly did not disappoint when it came to on-field brilliance . (Author: Gardener)

Premier LeagueThe 'Premier League title decider' between Manchester City and Liverpool was another all-time classic between the two clubs, with a 2-2 result that justified all the pre-game hype for the most anticipated match in world football. While Kevin De Bruyne put Manchester City ahead with another emphatic goal in a big game, Liverpool's Diogo Jota clinically equalized and set up an incredible fight. A skillfully scored goal looked like it would be enough to justify the result based on game balance. Sadio Mane had other plans, however, and equalized in just 48 seconds of the second half, while Pep Guardiola's side had a boatload of chances to win. In the end, both teams walked away by a point. With the reigning Premier League champions remaining at the top of the table, here are five things we learned from a thrilling afternoon of football at the E tihad Stadium. At this point, the aforementioned statement should be anything but a hot shot. If anything, Kevin De Bruyne could well be Manchester City's greatest player of all time, but we'll save that conversation for another day. The Belgian virtuoso's Man of the Match performance against Liverpool was perhaps one of the best examples of how he is the perfect love child in midfield between the club's two most famous icons in the middle of the park - David Silva and Yaya Touré. Kevin De Bruyne's pointed passing game looked at times like a homage to Spanish greatness, preparing the likes of Gabriel Jesus of the infamous, Riyad Mahrez on the brink of death. The midfield maestro's 5th-minute goal was another example of his amazing ability to conjure something out of thin air - a trait that has made Ivorian legend Yaya Toure one of the most unique midfielders in Touré's form to date De Bruyne has proven to be the ultimate midfielder without ever being, as pulling the strings with his ridiculous last ball is arguably his most imposing g weapon, much like David Silva. Combine those two qualities and the Belgium international's enduring ability to do it against the elite like Jurgen Klopp's men and perhaps at a superior level and the case is rested on the spot. Trent Alexander -Arnold and Andy Robertson are possibly the best full-back duo in the world, as the numbers suggest. There were instances where Walker only acted as a central defender to almost single-handedly deal with either Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah's back legs. Another flawless defensive display confirms Gareth Southgate's decision to constantly opt for the 31-year-old in an England shirt instead of less bankable options like Trent Alexander-Arnold or Reece James. For Joao Cancelo, this was one of his smartest outings in a Manchester City shirt. The extraordinary full-back surprised the world when he found Gabriel Jesus with an assist only he could recognise. Pep Guardiola is impeccable at bringing Manchester City forward with his balletic feet and excelling in a 1v1 against none other than Salah - defenders should be proud of themselves. This was not the Bernardo Silva that bordered on Lionel Messi level as he did in the second leg, nor was he ever-present and a nuisance at all times, such as against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this season. Pep Guardiola decided to take the former AS Monaco man and instructed the midfield maestro to act in a double turn - and there was so much more than that caught the eye in another superb performance from Bernardo Silva against Liverpool.In possession, the Portugal international acted as number six, dropping low enough to cause an overload and expertly holding the ball back. Against Jurgen Klopp's relentless counter-press, Bernardo Silva's comfort on the ball oozed the technical assurance of his namesake David, as world football's most suffocating side could not give a glove to Manchester City's princely midfielder. In addition, Pep Guardiola also took the wise call to him to play down the left flank to defend transitions against Liverpool's unstoppable right flank, made up of Alexander-Arnold and Salah, as the midfield dynamo was always close enough to almost to sniff out any danger posed by the latter. Being good in several facets of the game is an underestimated aspect of what makes you great and Bernardo Silva was just that against Liverpool. Those who disagree judged his performance by what they wanted to see rather than the size on display. While many may laugh at the Brazilian's erratic performance in Sunday afternoon's Premier League title decider, such reactions risk obscuring what was truly a stunning performance. First things first: Ederson turned a routine save into a meal and in a game Liverpool struggled to create, he practically gifted Diogo Jota and the visitors an equalizer. If that wasn't poor enough, a loss of focus that almost resulted in an own goal minutes later could have been one of the most suicidal goalkeeping performances we've seen in years. Sure, his stone-cold passing out of trouble may have some singing his praises, but the Manchester City number one's lack of initiative makes it almost seem like he wasn't aware Diogo Jota had been brought on as a substitute to give his side the lead bring to. Ederson is the perfect keeper for Pep Guardiola's system and he deserves his flowers most days. However, it was an alarmingly disappointing performance in Manchester City's biggest game of the season from one of the best in the world. At Anfield, the hosts held back and a draw was anything but a disastrous result. Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool wasn't the right result based on performancePep Guardiola admits huge respect for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp Following Etihad BattleIt's not at the Etihad Stadium either, but on another day Pep's side would have Guardiola not only got the three points, but also a clear victory. Manchester City's confident start, Kevin De Bruyne's opener and a hostile home crowd were the ingredients to rock a Liverpool side who looked unrecognizable upset from the first minute. Add Raheem Sterling's early miss and the second-place team was in sixes and sevens. With Rodris misplaced header to set John Stones with a tap-in from a set piece, Gabriel Jesus' bizarre decisions not to offer easy cut-backs De Bruyne twice, Riyad Mahrez hit the post with a free-kick, as well as his poorly executed one Dink in the end, the Sky Blues had many chances to end the game. On the other side Sadio Mane's strike just a minute into the second 45 was proof that Liverpool are miles more clinical at the top. But overall, Manchester City missed the bus to end Liverpool's aspirations after an outstanding performance earned more than a point.

Read

Throw in a much-needed dose of Neil Warnock in Man City v Liverpool

In today's Fiver:Kevin De Bruyne and VVD chat, a rough away game and Arjen Robben is drained (Author: Gardener)

Neil WarnockThe Fiver is all about self-improvement and is unable to watch a football match without learning the now-traditional "five things". While we already knew that Manchester City and Liverpool are both pretty good at football, Sunday's ding-dong at least reinforced that view, even if Liverpool were unusually weak in the first half before getting what was supposed to be a counter-rocket collective butt held by Jürgen Klopp at the break. What we learned from one of the post-match interviews is that (1) Kevin De Bruyne knows Virgil van Dijk, (2) the Manchester City midfielder sees Virgil often, (3) his and Virgil's children attend the same school and (4) enjoy playing together, which (5) provided the backdrop for their "friendly chat" after the final whistle. These revelations that gifted elite footballers are not actually cryogenically frozen in chambers just to thaw them for training and matches seem to have come as a shock to many viewers who had no idea that the existence of elite athletes can be so mundane if not more overwhelmingly boring than those experienced by the rest of us. Or that both men live in Cheshire, hence the pow-wows at the school run. It has also explained why, without a trace of irony or awareness, Pep Guardiola put his full bet on Basil Fawlty when Van Dijk clipped De Bruyne to bring him down with a technical foul that couldn't have been 'Fernandinho' if there would have been a shaved head, carried a big 25 on his back and danced the samba down Londrina's main street. Despite his anger, Pep was all smiles after the game as he and opposite number Jurgen Klopp wrapped themselves in a warm and tight hug. With never a flying slice of pizza, an angry, finger-wagging Irishman or a 22-man thrashing with a multitude of fists and boots emerging from a cartoon cloud, it's become abundantly clear that the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester City is alas lacking the kind of sneering mutual contempt, childish needle, and martial grudges that fuel all the most entertaining feuds. After a weekend in which Neil Warnock announced his retirement from management, perhaps one or both clubs could bring him in as an anger management adviser to generate some much-needed hostility. I often went deep and had to fight often enough, but that was also a real struggle” – Arjen Robben, now retired, did not exactly enjoy his first marathon experience despite the 38-year-old's very decent time of three hours, 13 minutes and 40 seconds. Get your ears around Football Weekly! Tickets for live shows in June and July are available here, so get going. The Fiver has a new sister email folks! It's a weekly round-up of the wonderful world of women's football, entitled Moving the Goalposts. You don't have to be told that it's smarter and funnier than us - so register here. "Can I be one of the 1,057 people to point out that the kid with the broken phone has suffered enough without having to go to Old Trafford to watch that slag for another 90 minutes?" - Martin Fischer. "After reading Max Rushden's article on the W----C-- in Qatar, my answer is: It is a farce and not an event. I say this even though I'm 81 years old and may not last until 2026" - Dale Chase. Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today's winner of our award letter of the day is... Martin Fisher. Chelsea meet Real Madrid on Tuesday, who were trailing 3-1 in the quarter-final first leg of the Big Cup and are in grave danger of losing last season's trophy. "All we need is an amazing script if we're going to overcome this," patted Tommy Tactics' chin. Furious at his team's recent cowardly capitulation, Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to slap a phone out of the hand of a young fan as he left the pitch at Goodison Park on Saturday. Police are appealing for witnesses but may want to check videos on various social media first. Christian Eriksen continued his uplifting, affirming return to full fitness, inspiring Brentford to a comfortable win over an exhausted West Ham. Just when you thought they were out, they back off again. Dewsbury-Hall may sound like Rishi Sunak's holiday home but was actually Leicester's match-winner against Palace when Kiernan scored his first Premier League goal. Atlético Madrid have been hit by a partial stadium closure for Wednesday's Big Cup quarter-final second leg against Manchester City after supporters of the Spanish side were caught on camera performing Nazi salutes at the Etihad. Julian Nagelsmann has promised an improved performance from Bayern in the Big Cup quarter-final second leg at home to Villarreal, who lead the tie 1-0. "We played a bad game and they played their best game," boasted Nagelsmann. England's women play Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday and Lionesses skip Leah Williamson is a bit concerned. Napoli's pursuit of the Scudetto was hit hard this weekend as they were beaten at home by Fiorentina. This may come as a surprise to anyone who has followed him at Arsenal, but Mattéo Guendouzi is actually good at football and has found a soul mate in Jorge Sampaoli, his manager at Marseille. Adam White shares some thoughts on their relationship and the rest of Ligue 1. In a packed Olympiastadion, Union Hertha recalled who rules Berlin. You may have heard that Manchester City played Liverpool yesterday. Apparently some other games were played as well. Our authors share 10 reflections on it. And if it's your thing... you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace.

Read

Seven early bird deals in the ranking including Christensen and Kessié to Barça, Carvalho to Liverpool

Here's a look at seven deals in advanced stages or already closed for the summer (Author: Gardener)

ChristensenClubs that focus on the timing of negotiations in the long term have great advantages, as the preparatory work of Manchester City, Real Madrid or Liverpool has shown in recent years. Therefore, the clubs have already started some negotiations between young talents or top players, partially signed or completed. We're still waiting for Christensen to get down to paper sooner rather than later as he verbally agreed a deal with Barcelona. The Danish defender is set to leave Chelsea at the end of the season as he sees this as an excellent opportunity to make a difference at Xavi Hernandez's side. The 26-year-old is a world-class defender who brings a wealth of experience to a young Barcelona squad. Bayern had their sights set on him, but Barça were quicker because they needed a new centre-back. Another excellent Barcelona deal and in this case the signings have already been completed along with the medical tests. Barcelona manager Xavi persuaded him despite Kessie receiving suggestions from the Premier League. The 25-year-old Ivorian was the best midfielder in Serie A at AC Milan last season and is now ready for a new experience. FC Bayern is closing in on one of the most talented midfielders in the world. The deal with Ajax is nearing completion as each party waits for the contracts to be signed. 19-year-old Gravenberch deserves the top 3 on our list because of his quality, talent and huge potential. Barcelona wanted Mazraoui but the choice is now destined for Bayern Munich in another deal struck with agent Mino Raiola, similar to Gravenberch. He is a perfect free agent as he brings a competitive pedigree and at 24 years old already has some experience in European and international competitions. Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann may have landed the perfect new right-back. The deal struck between Liverpool and Fulham for this talented Portuguese teenager fell through right on the winter deadline. But fret not Liverpool fans as Jurgen Klopp has since pushed for it as Carvalho will cost the Reds £5m plus £2.7m. Carvalho really has incredible potential and Klopp is the perfect manager to hone his skills and make him a household name in the future as he is set to join the first-team next season. AC Milan made this signing because they believe it can be an interesting deal for the present and the future. The talented young Frenchman comes from Bordeaux as a new midfielder for Stefano Pioli. Adli, 21, has excellent skills and the potential to make an instant impact in Serie A. Born in 2004, Savinho is a Brazilian winger who will join Manchester City from Atletico Mineiro in July. After graduating from Man City, he will receive 6.5 million euros plus surcharges.

Read

Is the Man City-Liverpool rivalry too friendly?

Manchester City and Liverpool played a thrilling, high-intensity draw, but no one on Twitter could agree on whether this is England's greatest rivalry of all time. (Author: Gardener)

Man City-LiverpoolLast Updated On .Football Last Updated On .Football Manchester City and Liverpool played an absolutely vibrant draw on Sunday, but it was all a bit too friendly for some. All that and more is in this week's top football tweets. Ahead of the clash at the top of the table between Manchester City and Liverpool, pundit Jamie Carragher ruffled a few feathers by claiming this is the best rivalry we've seen in English football. That comment inspired armies of Gen X and late millennial football fans to take to Twitter and tell everyone how much better the rivalries between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger or Fergie and Jose Mourinho were in the 1990s and early 00s. One thing is for sure, Jurgen Klopp vs Pep Guardiola certainly looks like the friendliest rivalry we've seen in English football. Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne gave us all an insight into his daily routine on Sunday. We hope the father of this tweeter is doing well and that the results go his way! Merseyside Police are investigating an alleged attack after Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to have broken a fan's phone after Manchester United's loss to Everton on Saturday at Goodison Park. Antonio Conte has found a recipe for success with Son Heung-min, Harry Kane and Dejan Kulusevski. Tottenham are currently scoring for fun. Son scored a hat-trick in Saturday's 4-0 win over Aston Villa and has scored six goals in his last three games. Meanwhile, north London rivals Arsenal handed Tottenham the advantage in the race for fourth place when they lost at home to Brighton on Saturday. In France, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe both scored hat-tricks as Paris St-Germain extended their lead at the top of Ligue 1 with a 6-1 win over Clermont. Lionel Messi also assisted three of those goals. And finally, think of that unfortunate tweeter currently suffering from extreme buyer regret.

Read

“Neither of the first two deserve to be second”

Manchester City and Liverpool are miles ahead of the rest of the Premier League in terms of quality and points, says MOTD expert Alan Shearer. (Author: Gardener)

Manchester CityOne of the best things about Sunday's thrilling draw between Manchester City and Liverpool was knowing that we'll see them again at Wembley this weekend. I know the league table tells you there's a gap when you look at how many points the top two have gained - but I mean in terms of their level of performance where there's a gap in the standards they're playing in compared to everyone else put under them. I'm talking about both teams and their relentless pace, energy, intensity, quality of play and players' hunger to win - and the two great managers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp who are behind it all. They've been doing this for a while, entertaining us with brilliant football whenever they meet and pushing each other to perform at their best. Now we can all catch our breath and look forward to seeing them again in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final, which will be broadcast live on the BBC. We saw the same 2-2 result when City went to Anfield in October and an almost identical game. City were the better side in the first half on Sunday but the way Liverpool got back at them meant a draw was probably a fair result, although Riyad Mahrez could have scored it for City right at the end. Guardiola's side were a little more direct than normal to get around Liverpool's high defensive line and get behind them and they caused some problems with those balls over the top that their outsiders could track. City could have been out of sight by the break – and perhaps should have been – but they missed some big chances and Liverpool were never going to lie down anyway. A lot of teams come and sit at the Etihad Stadium but that's not Liverpool's way and it won't be at Wembley either. Klopp wanted to try to be tight and compact but he still tried to put a lot of men up front when Liverpool broke. That meant there were chances for both sides and that kept everyone in suspense until the final whistle, including me. However, neither manager will change their attacking style next time they meet, and neither should they. Both teams have such a strong identity and their players clearly believe in it because it works. In terms of individual achievements, Kevin de Bruyne has been immense for City with the way he has consistently pushed them forward, but it's the collective to admire, with both sides. We are very fortunate to have two absolutely world-class football teams competing against each other with so much at stake. Both clubs are trying something very special this season - City are aiming for the Treble and Liverpool have yet to become the first English side to win the quadruple. One of those bids has to end this week because we have to have a winner and a loser at Wembley and it will probably be the smallest margin deciding which team is which. You may recall the John Stones goal-line clearance that gave City a vital win when they met at the Etihad in 2019 as they ended up edging Liverpool to the title by a point. It will be that close in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and it will be just as close in the title race. City know the title is theirs if they win every league game, but they also know that one slip means they could be the ones catching up. If you look at both teams' encounters, City looks a little lighter, but Liverpool have enough firepower to win all games. *City or Liverpool are in the FA Cup final on May 14th so their game will be rescheduled for May 15th. Although City have a slight advantage now, I still think there will be a turn or two - for both clubs. Whoever wins at Wembley and progresses in Europe will face a crazy schedule over the next few weeks but they have the squads to handle it and that scenario is where they want to be at the start of the season. I still don't know which of them will win the Premier League. * Our coverage of your Premier League club is bigger and better than ever - here's everything you need to know to make sure you don't miss a moment

Read

Manchester City's quest for perfection continues while Liverpool highlight shortcomings

Pep Guardiola's side dominated at the Etihad but missed an opportunity to finish off their main title rivals (Author: Gardener)

Manchester City'sEP Guardiola said he didn't want a "second of sadness" from his Manchester City side after Sunday's 2-2 draw with Liverpool, but he also conceded his side had "missed an opportunity", four points clear in the title to take over races. xG models vary, but all had City as the winner, some by as much as 0.9 goals. And that's part of the oddity of this city: that dominance speaks to its extreme quality, but its failure to capitalize on advantages also suggests vulnerability. City will win the league if they win their last seven games of the season, which seems entirely possible - after all, they won twice as many in a row to hold off Liverpool at the end of the 2018/19 season. If they win those seven, they will finish with 95 points. Only four teams in the history of the league have ever achieved more than that - Liverpool and City twice in the last four years. (And yes, it's reasonable to point out that geniuses like Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp and as brilliant as these players are, the financial structures that have enabled this level of dominance are unhealthy, although it's likely that the Champions' scores drop five or ten points when they're gone). City haven't had a lower xG in the league since the penultimate game of last season, when the league won and the Champions League final drew nearer, beating Brighton 3-2. That's 32 straight league games in which they've been the better team (according to algorithms), albeit a handful of those narrowly. The rest of the league should perhaps be thankful that they've lost as much as 19 points in that run - drawing five and losing three. But the obvious question is why are they losing points at all? After results not quite to his liking, Guardiola often blames problems in the two penalty rooms – a lack of concentration by a defender, a goalkeeping error, a brilliant moment by an opponent at one end; a failure to take risks in the other. Missing a string of chances builds a self-fulfilling belief that this could be one of those days: Guardiola's experience of that experience can be found at Barcelona v Internazionale 2010, Chelsea v Barcelona and Barcelona v Chelsea 2012, Bayern v Atlético in the year, among others 2016. By the time Raheem Sterling met that early opportunity in Alisson's body, it was already possible to see a narrative unfolding of City's waste. As it turns out, Kevin De Bruyne put City ahead within 40 seconds, diminishing the importance of the incident. Gabriel Jesus restored City's lead with an amazing finish, but there was also a moment in the second half when, after cutting into the right side of the box and with a teammate at the six-yard line and two more arrived, his efforts dragging out the side netting. Both Sterling and Jesus can sometimes lack clinical acuity. And yet Guardiola chose them for what is likely to be the biggest league game of the season. Both had important roles to play, running behind Liverpool's highline and putting pressure on their defence. Sterling made 12 pressures in the final third, more than anyone in the game except for Jordan Henderson (and with City having 55% possession, Liverpool inevitably made more attempts to win it back). Jesus' role in trying to disrupt Andy Robertson was a little different; Only Bernardo Silva and Trent Alexander-Arnold attempted more tackles. They are players Guardiola trusts to fulfill his tactical directives. To say that City need a forward, that they should take more of their chances, misses the point that with an orthodox forward they might not create as many chances because they wouldn't have as much control. And control is key because like any team that plays with a high line, City are vulnerable to balls played behind them. Liverpool's two goals were the result of moments of individual excellence – the first was a crossfield pass from Thiago and then, after the initial clearance and Robertson's cross, a surprisingly skillful, cushioned retreat from Alexander-Arnold; and the second of Mohamed Salah's perfect through ball. In a way, the opposition can't do much about that - and yet these are the kind of goals City like to concede, the kind of incidents that keep costing Guardiola in the Champions League. It's too easy to say that City would have won with better finishers because better finishers might not have created the structures that created those chances and might have given Liverpool more chances. Balance is key and when it comes to making a decision, Guardiola has always put the broader structure ahead of recklessness in the box.

Read