Pep Guardiola hailed Pablo Zabaleta a Manchester City legend after his match-winning display against Watford.
Zaba scored his first goal of the campaign against the Hornets and his manager told Sky Sports exactly what he thinks of his skipper.
They report: “Pep Guardiola praised the ‘legend Pablo Zabaleta after the Manchester City right-back opened the scoring in their 2-0 win over Watford on Wednesday night.
“Zabaleta struck the opener in the Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium, his first goal in more than two years, before David Silva sealed the win late on.
‘He's our captain, he's a legend of this club and he's proving his character which helped us a lot to try and understand what we want to be. He was really good,’ Guardiola told Sky Sports after the game.”
The Irish Examiner continue the Zaba coverage in their match report, writing: “Zabaleta’s first goal in over two years set Manchester City on their way to a nervous victory over Watford which confirmed the theory that Pep Guardiola’s revolution is still very much a work in progress.
“Not until David Silva scored a second goal, on the breakaway five minutes from time, did City and their supporters look truly convinced that they would record their first home league win since September 17.
“After Yaya Toure dispossessed Sebastian Prodl, Silva and Raheem Sterling broke upfield, exchanged passes, and the Spaniard convincingly killed off the game from 15 yards.
“Argentinian defender Zabaleta, who is out of contract this season and widely expected to leave the club, scored the opening goal that lifted the mounting disquiet around City in these early days of the Guardiola reign.”
News of Ilkay Gundogan’s injury set-back soured the win over Watford, however. The Daily Mail report: “City boss Pep Guardiola is fearful of being without midfielder Ilkay Gundogan for a 'long time'.
“Gundogan was forced off during City's 2-0 victory over Watford on Wednesday night after twisting his right knee following a challenge by Nordin Amrabat.
'I'm so, so sad and unhappy for what happened to Ilkay Gundogan. We're going to miss him I think for a long time, it is the worst news from the day,' Guardiola said.
“The German was replaced by Fernando after 44 minutes at the Etihad after damaging the ligaments in his right knee.
“He was playing in his tenth Premier League game of the season since joining City in the summer from Borussia Dortmund for £20million.”
Everybody at the Club wishes Ilkay a speedy recovery.
Moving on to transfer news and the Blues are this morning linked with one defender moving away and one potentially moving in.
ESPN suggest Gael Clichy is a target for several Italian clubs with the full-back’s contract expiring next summer – and add the Frenchman would not be short of potential suitors.
They report: “Clichy's contract is running down and it appears that Pep Guardiola will not fight to keep hold of the French left-back, with Mundo Deportivo reporting his next destination is looking like Italy.
“Inter, Roma and Napoli will battle it out for the former Arsenal star's signature with a move in January not off the table.
“With the 31-year-old's deal set to expire next summer, Clichy however wait in hopes of receiving a more lucrative offer down the road.”
Finally, The Bleacher Report believes Southampton star Virgil van Dijk could be a perfect fit for Pep’s under fire defence.
The powerful Dutch star has also been linked to Chelsea, but the report suggests if a move away from St Mary’s did happen, the defender would prefer a lighter shade of blue: They speculate: “Van Dijk would reportedly prefer to sign for Manchester City rather than Chelsea, but he could cost £40 million after Saints boss Claude Puel insisted he is not for sale.
“According to the Daily Record, both City and Chelsea have expressed interest in the Dutchman, who would opt for the former in order to team up with Citizens manager Pep Guardiola
“The Netherlands international is a robust, yet composed, presence at the back, powerful in the air and an excellent ball-winner, and his reading of the game is also outstanding.
“Van Dijk would be a strong candidate to improve Guardiola's defensive options and still has his peak years as a centre-back still to come—in today's market, £40 million isn't a ridiculous price to pay for a player of his quality.”
That’s all for today – more tomorrow as the build up towards Sunday’s clash with Arsenal begins in earnest.