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BBC Sport: Stats suggest City are getting stronger

Could City actually improve on last season’s incredible campaign?

That’s the question BBC Sport are asking this morning with a stats-based feature on how the Blues have started even better than the Centurions campaign.

It’s news that won’t exactly thrill the other 19 Premier League clubs – as the BBC report: “Manchester City may be even better now than the team who earned a Premier League record 100 points, according to football statisticians at Gracenote.

“Pep Guardiola's side won 32 of 38 matches last season, scoring 106 goals and conceding 27 en route to the title.

 

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“However, City have performed better in their eight games this season than they did in the equivalent fixtures in 2017-18, Gracenote's analysis suggests.

“The champions are one point better off and are creating 20% more chances.

“They are also managing around 20 goal attempts per match this season, compared with just under 17 in the same matches last season - despite losing Kevin de Bruyne to a knee injury shortly after their opening match of the campaign.”

All that plus a fit again De Bruyne to come back? Makes pleasant reading.

Looking back to Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool and Riyad Mahrez has vowed to push his spot-kick heartache to the back of his mind and not let it affect his game.

The Algerian was a thorn in Liverpool’s side and came close to scoring in open play on a couple of occasions before the penalty.

Quoted in the Mirror, he said: ‘It won’t affect me at all. Everyone misses penalties, even big, big players. Of course, I wanted to score to help the team to win.’” he explained.

‘I have to look forward. It’s part of football – sometimes you score, sometimes you miss.

 

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‘But the most important part was that our performance was very good. We deserved to win, but sometimes it’s important not to lose, as well.’

Mahrez is again featured in the MEN, with Stuart Brennan writing: “Last season Pep Guardiola twice tried to slug it out with Liverpool at Anfield – and lost twice, conceding seven goals.

“This time, while retaining an attacking outlook, he had his players better drilled to plug the gaps which Jurgen Klopp’s fast counter-attacks exploited so ruthlessly in the those 4-3 and 3-0 defeats.

“And with City eyeing further progress in the Champions League – where they will face other fast, reactive teams – Mahrez feels the knowledge that they can be canny at the back and still trouble teams going forward, is a big stride forward.

 

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‘We were very strong and we showed that we can do both – we can have the ball but be strong as well,’ said Mahrez, who played a key role in occupying attacking left-back Andy Robertson.

‘We showed that we are not just a team that likes to play and leaves big spaces – we are also a team that wants to be strong defensively, and that’s what we showed at Anfield.’

One transfer snippet in This Is Futbol suggests the Blues are tracking the progress of a former Academy striker who is flourishing at Sunderland.

It reads: “Tottenham are in the hunt to sign Sunderland centre-forward Josh Maja.

“The newspaper claims that the 19-year-old’s contract expires at the end of the season, meaning that the Black Cats could lose him for a small compensation fee next summer.

“It is understood that Manchester City are also interested in re-signing their former youth player, while Southampton are also keep tabs on Maja.”

And finally…

City fans still regularly sing his name at the Etihad so we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Edin Dzeko has, in turn, been returning the affection via his Instagram account.

The MEN write: “Dzeko has continued his fine scoring form since making the switch to Roma, however it is clear to see City still hold a very special place in the forward's heart.

“The Bosnian forward has now highlighted his fondness for the Blues as he sang City chants while celebrating Oktoberfest 2018 at Kufflers Weinzelt in Munich.

“'Hey Jude' by The Beatles was being played in the bar, and Dzeko couldn't resist the temptation to change the lyrics to the iconic City fan version.

“Just to make his feelings even clearer the Bosnian even added the caption #NANANANANACITYYY to his Instagram story just to make sure the message was clear.

“Once a Blue, always a Blue.”

Indeed! More gossip and rumour tomorrow.

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