EPL: City target Villa’s scalp

first_imgRelatedPosts Runarsson joins Arsenal on four-year deal Aguero could be out of action until November, Guardiola says Martinez completes £20m Aston Villa move Man City vs. Aston VillaVenue: Etihad StadiumKick off: 12:30PMManchester City resume Premier League action this afternoon with a game against Aston Villa at the Etihad.The Premier League champions will hope that they continue to make up ground on leaders Liverpool, who are six points ahead of them in the Premier League.Pep Guardiola’s men have responded in ideal fashion to suffering a damaging 2-0 defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers prior to the international break.The Citizens claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, who are something of a bogey team, ahead of recovering from going a goal down to thrash Atalanta 5-1 in the Champions League.As domestic football returns to the Etihad this weekend, City players will know that slipping up at home even once more this season could have fatal consequences for their title defence.Following consecutive years during which it seemed as if nobody could touch them, the Premier League champions possess greater firepower than ever but perhaps have more question marks surrounding their capacity to hold firm at the back.Indeed, in the wake of Vincent Kompany’s departure, combined with injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, it has been demonstrated by both Norwich City and Wolves that hitting City with fast counter-attacks down the middle of the pitch can open up gaps in behind.This current impediment, along with more intangible factors like “pedigree” and “heritage”, may combine to explain why City could struggle in Europe again this season – a problem that is preventing this side from joining the pantheon of the game’s very best teams.However, when it comes to these games at home against lesser opponents, City will always back their attacking unit to substantially outscore whomever they come up against.Today’s visitors will take heart from the blueprint laid down by Wolves but must also be conscious of the fact that this City team has scored 21 goals in six home games since August.The story of Villa this season has been one of a team which has almost visibly grown into its skin since the opening weekend.Defeats to Bournemouth and Crystal Palace along with a tepid home draw with West Ham United during the club’s opening four league games were indicative of a team which, although solid at the back, looked to be missing something going forward.However, it seems as if a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates, which saw the visitors take the lead twice and lose the game to a last minute goal, served as something of a turning point when it came to the intensity of Villa’s performances.Since that loss, Smith’s side has managed at least two goals in every game, including an impressive 5-1 victory over Norwich at Carrow Road that was hallmarked by a front three of Jack Grealish, Anwar El Ghazi and Wesley cutting through the Canaries at will.Moreover, the Villans have been bolstered by the strong form of attacking midfielder John McGinn, with the Scot scoring three goals and claiming one assist this term, often making smart late runs to join attacks and create overloads through the middle.If Villa are to pull off one of the shocks of the season at the Etihad this weekend, the aforementioned attacking quartet must make use of any pocket of space that happens to come their way. Watford, for example, actually had an excellent chance to equalise after just five minutes at the Etihad, only to squander it and end up losing 8-0.Smith has so far refused to deviate from a rigid 4-3-3 system, whose primary aim is for the team to attack and defend as one unit, and will need his players to function as one perfectly unified entity if they are to succeed at keeping this City team at arm’s length.Then again, as every team knows, even being perfect against such a litany of superstars can sometimes not be quite enough. Manchester City possible XI: Ederson, Cancelo, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Silva, Bernardo, Sterling, Jesus.Aston Villa possible XI: Heaton, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett, Nakamba, Hourihane, McGinn, El Ghazi, Grealish, Wesley.Tags: Aston VillaEPLManchester Citylast_img read more

Playoff baseball continues to provide special moments

first_imgPerhaps we don’t see it much in Southern California, but this is the time of year when the cool air rolls in and the leaves begin to change. For a certain group of sports fans, this change of weather means one thing: the MLB postseason. I love October baseball. It’s not my favorite playoffs of the professional sports — the NHL holds that spot — but when October rolls around, I’m always excited for baseball playoffs, regardless of if I have a team in contention or not. There’s just something about the magic of October baseball that I really love. Some of my most memorable sports moments happened in October. I’ve gotten to see the Red Sox win the World Series three times in my life. While all wins are great, the 2013 win sticks out to me the most. I remember Game 6 at Fenway Park the most. John Lackey took the mound after losing Game 2, also at Fenway. The Red Sox knocked in six runs, three each in innings three and four. At this point, sitting on my couch at home, I was on top of the world. The Red Sox were set to win their third World Series in 10 years. The Cardinals picked up a run in the seventh, but I wasn’t worried. I could just feel that the Red Sox were going to win. Koji Uehara came in as the closer. When he walked out, I knew the Red Sox were finally going to clinch the World Series at Fenway — something that hadn’t happened in 95 years. Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter to win it all. Watching the team and the fans at Fenway celebrate, I jumped off the couch, just as happy as all of them. I wanted more than anything to be there that day. Going to Fenway had been my dream since I was about 7 or 8. I finally got to live out that dream this past May. While at Fenway, I got to see all of the team’s World Series memorabilia. Getting to see everything from the 2013 World Series was beyond cool. To top the victory off, David Ortiz was named the World Series MVP. I was so excited for him that I cried during the presentation of his award and his interview. It was a pretty amazing Wednesday.The second most memorable memory I have is Game 2 of the 2015 National League Division Series. My friend Sam and I sat atop Dodgers Stadium excited to watch Zack Greinke pitch. It was an eventful game, to say the least. The Mets knocked in two early, which brought down our spirits just a bit, but then the Dodgers knocked in one a inning or so later. The Dodgers were down 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh when one of the biggest things to come out the this series happened. With one out, Chase Utley slid into second, collided with Ruben Tejada, and broke his leg. At first, everyone in Dodgers was screaming and cheering that Utley was called safe. It wasn’t until Tejada didn’t get up that everyone realized something was wrong. A silence more or less fell through the stadium as they played replay after replay on the big screen — Tejada still hadn’t gotten up. It felt like forever until they finally brought the stretcher out. Everyone clapped as Tejada was strapped on and taken off the field. The Dodgers went on to score four runs in that inning, winning the game 5-2. After the first run, the stadium was rocking. It continued to get louder and louder with each run the Dodgers scored. That was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a sporting event.Even though the Dodgers ended up losing the series, it was still a great game and atmosphere to take part in. The Dodgers haven’t won a World Series in my lifetime, but every year when October rolls around and the boys in blue are playing, part of me hangs onto the hope that it’ll finally be the year. So far, it’s never been the year, but maybe this year will be different. To me, October baseball is the best kind of baseball. There’s a type of magic around it that keeps me coming back year after year. Maybe it’s the fact that the MLB season has 162 games that make October so special. There are stretches of the baseball season that don’t seem to matter. With so many games, baseball feels long and tedious, but that’s not the case in October. Crazy and exciting things always seem to happen in the postseason. This year’s playoff is nothing short of expectations. The Cubs are looking to break their 107-year curse. The Indians are looking to win their first championship since 1948. The Dodgers are trying to “Win for Vin” and get their first title since 1988. Whoever ends up winning, it’ll be an exciting, magical journey through October, and I couldn’t be more excited to watch. Jodee Storm Sullivan is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. Her column, “The Storm Report,” runs Tuesdays.last_img read more