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MEN: Sane central to Guardiola game-plan

FLYING FORM: Leroy Sane

FLYING FORM: Leroy Sane

Welcome to Friday’s media round up ahead of the FA Cup fifth round trip to Huddersfield.

The pickings are relatively slim on the transfer gossip front but there’s a fair bit of football chat, focusing on rising star Leroy Sane, selection issues, plus find out who the numbers say is City’s most creative player…

First to a column in the Manchester Evening News analysing German 21-year-old Sane.

They write: “Back in 2015, Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt said of Leroy Sane: ‘Leroy has yet to mature but he has a way of playing that can make all the difference.’

“With Sané now 21-years-old, Heldt’s analysis seems prescient.

“His adjustment to Premier League football was not instant, but now with a first team place firmly secured he’s beginning to justify his £37m price tag.

“The winger struggled to find consistent form after his arrival at Manchester City in the summer, but since his return from injury in January he has been central to Pep Guardiola’s game plan.

“Speed and fast transitional play is key in a new-look forward line alongside Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, and against Bournemouth Sané and Sterling were in rampant form.”

Big interview: Leroy Sane

One player who has been flying under the radar while that young trio have been grabbing headlines is Belgian ace Kevin De Bruyne – but the stats suggest he has been City’s most telling creative force this season.

Shoot reflect: “Despite the likes of David Silva and Raheem Sterling having had good seasons, Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne tops this list.

“The 25-year-old, who scored seven goals and laid on nine assists in his debut season at the Etihad last time out, has registered the most assists of any City player this term (nine), and that tally is also the most in the Premier League thus far.

“Although Sterling has found the net more than his teammate (six to four), De Bruyne has created 67 chances this term, which is 15 more than the next best Silva, and double Sterling’s tally.

“That equates to an average of 2.9 key passes per match from the Belgian international, who also averages the most shots per game of the aforementioned three (2.9), and also averages a goal or an assist every 146 minutes, in comparison to Sterling’s 173 minutes, and Silva’s 319 minutes.”

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A short hop across the Pennines sees the Huddersfield Examiner stay true to their name in a piece trying to predict Guardiola’s starting line up. 

Journalist Blake Welton declares: “Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has a number of selection headaches ahead of his side's FA Cup Fifth Round clash at Huddersfield Town.

“With Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus breaking a metatarsal in Monday night's win over AFC Bournemouth, Kelechi Iheanacho could be in line for a recall for Saturday's game.

“The 20-year-old Nigerian has not been involved in a matchday squad for the Blues since the 4-0 defeat at Everton, after which he found himself down the pecking order with the arrival of Jesus.

“Guardiola also has a Champions League last 16 first leg against Monaco just three days later – but wholesale changes are still not expected in West Yorkshire.

“The Blues boss has played strong teams in the FA Cup so far - David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Yaya Toure all starting against Crystal Palace and West Ham United in the last two rounds.”

And finally the Daily Mirror is one of a number of papers to carry an interview with Malcolm Macdonald, the manager who was unfortunately in charge when City won 10-1 against the Terriers back in 1987.

David Anderson reports: “'SuperMac' Malcolm Macdonald achieved much in his career. A hat-trick against Liverpool on his Newcastle debut. Five goals in one game for England against Cyprus. Finishing Division One’s top scorer in 1975 and 1977.

“But he admits his reputation has never recovered from THAT Division Two defeat to Manchester City as Huddersfield manager 30 years ago.

“The 10-1 hammering, on November 7, 1987 at City's old Maine Road ground, remains the Terriers’ heaviest loss and the Blues' biggest league win.

“Macdonald had only been in the job for a few weeks and never managed again, after he was sacked five months later with Town hurtling towards Division Three.

“As Pep Guardiola's star-studded City prepare to visit David Wagner's Championship-promotion chasing Terriers in Saturday's FA Cup fifth round tie, he said: ‘For me, personally, it was a seriously damaging result.

“’The fact we’re still talking about it now, 30 years on, says everything...’”

That's your lot for now but we'll be back same time, same place on Saturday!

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