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Media Watch: Praise for Pep's unsung heroes

KEY FIGURES: Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho

KEY FIGURES: Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho

It’s the start of another action-packed week for City and Monday's media round-up features praise for two of Pep Guardiola’s unsung heroes as well as the unlikely inspiration behind Gabriel Jesus’s brace against Everton.

With the December games coming thick and fast, there’s also a look ahead to Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final away at Leicester and how the Blues are coping with our hectic schedule.

But we start with the i who lift the lid on the key influence of Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan during the course of Saturday’s hugely impressive 3-1 Premier League win over Everton.

Daniel Storey writes: “If Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus are the duck serenely gliding across the Manchester City lake, Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho are the legs kicking beneath the water’s surface.

“It isn’t often that you see Fernandinho and Gundogan in combination. 

“The pair were starting together in the league for only the third time since September, and usually operate in the same role and one which commands only a single place in Pep Guardiola’s team.

READ: De Bruyne not worried by Liverpool threat

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GALLERY: City 3-1 Everton | Best of the match action

"Injuries to David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne gave them the opportunity, but they are rarely first choice to start together.

“But it’s only when you see Fernandinho and Gundogan operating in tandem that it becomes so obvious how effective their spoiling role is. They are the perfect pair of gentlemen thieves – one causes a distraction while the other nicks the ball off you and sparks a counter attack.

“There is a dichotomy at the heart of Gundogan and Fernandinho’s work: They are doing an ugly job but making it look beautiful. There is a tendency to hyperbolise and romanticise everything that great football teams do, but in this case it is not misplaced. No player on the pitch made more tackles than Fernandinho. No player gained possession more times than Gundogan.

“But they are architects as well as demolition men. No player created more chances than Gundogan and Fernandinho assisted Raheem Sterling’s goal."

GIFT OF THE GAB: Gabriel Jesus beats Jordan Pickford to fire City into the lead



City 3-1 Everton: Extended highlights

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Saturday’s headlines, of course, were dominated by Gabriel Jesus who capped a wonderful all-round display against the Merseysiders by claiming two goals – his first in the league since August.

And the Daily Mail’s Jack Gaughan reveals how there was an unlikely secret ingredient behind the young Brazilian’s sparkling performance.

Gaughan scribed: “It is the arrival of Jesus's two-year-old nephew, Miguel, that has perked him up more than anything else. Miguel had never previously travelled to Manchester and that was the sort of emotional boost Manchester City's young Brazilian was desperate for.

“Get Guardiola talking about the personalities of his players and he could speak for days. That Jesus conducted his post-match TV interviews in English did not go unnoticed.

“I don't think he's got a girlfriend, so to have his family here is so important and I think it's going to help him,' Guardiola said.

READ: Pep Guardiola | Family key to Gabriel Jesus's form

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“His family will be so important to him. The effort Gabriel put in — he always does that. But what I also like is it's the first I listened to him in the media speaking English. That's cool.

“I insist on them having to learn English because sometimes I have the feeling he maybe doesn't understand me. So it's important to have that feeling that he's speaking English much better.'

“Jesus is a livewire around the training ground, a prankster when the mood takes him and that should go up a notch over the festive period. His mum, Vera, is here and has a staggering influence along with his brother. 

“'Many players who have the talent but are in bad, bad form — it is because of personal issues. That can influence things a lot on the pitch, more than people can imagine or expect, and sometimes we don't know it,” Guardiola added.

SUPER SUB: Raheem Sterling makes it three!



Guardiola on Sterling admiration

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“That's why Gabriel has that feeling that, with his family here, he will be calmer, better. I could not live without my family. But I always had the feeling he's a good lad in the locker room, he's always chatting, laughing, making jokes.'”

The fixtures, of course, keep coming thick and fast for the Blues with our next assignment tomorrow night’s Carabao Cup quarter-final away at Leicester.

But the Manchester Evening News’s, Simon Bajkowski, speaking to Bernardo Silva, reports on how the City squad are relishing the punishing schedule as the Club competes on four fronts.

Bajkowksi writes: “Asked about the toll of a dense schedule, made worse by a number of injured players, Bernardo insisted: "No, we're ok. We have a lot of players, a good squad. We're fit, we eat well and sleep well, so we're prepared to play all those games and in these busy months.

"It's a challenge (to match Liverpool). We accept it. We're happy to try to go and win again knowing that this season our rivals are stronger and tougher.

READ: Which TV channel is Leicester v City on

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"It won't be easy, but we'll be here and try and win it again.

"When you lose, the mood is never good, but we knew we had to come back from that (last week’s loss at Chelsea). Two difficult games against two strong sides and we're very happy to get the two wins at home.

“Now we have games away from home for the Carabao Cup and then we have another one here and two games away. We have to give a good response after that defeat and try to get back to the first position that I think we deserve."

Finally, looking ahead to Tuesday’s trip to the King Power Stadium, the Leicester Mercury reveal that Kevin De Bruyne is poised to start for City, having made his long-awaited return to action from the bench against Everton.

BERNARDO BRILLIANCE: City's goalscorer celebrates his second goal of the season.



Leicester 1-1 City (3-4 on pens): Long highlights

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The Mercury reports: “The Premier League table-toppers travel to the King Power Stadium almost a year to the day of their meeting at the same stage of the competition last season.

“The Citizens were the victors that night, winning a penalty shoot-out 4-3 after a 1-1 draw.

“And De Bruyne, who replaced former Leicester man Riyad Mahrez in Saturday's 3-1 win over Everton, will start Tuesday night's cup clash.

“He returned to action in last month's Carabao Cup win over Fulham, in which City booked their clash with the Foxes, having recovered from a torn knee ligament only to pull up again.

“But Guardiola has confirmed his return to the starting line-up after his first appearance since the beginning of November.

“It is important he plays, he will play against Leicester in the (Carabao) cup," he said after Saturday's Toffees win.”

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