Leroy Sane out for at least six weeks after horror tackle, says Pep Guardiola

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Leroy Sane was on the receiving end of a horrible tackle on Sunday.

Manchester City midfielder Leroy Sane will be out of action for at least six weeks with an ankle injury he picked up in his side’s FA Cup win against Cardiff, Pep Guardiola said Tuesday.

The Germany international suffered ligament damage following a bad tackle from Joe Bennett in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie in the Welsh capital, which City won 2-0.

The 22-year-old is set to miss the League Cup final against Arsenal and both legs of the Champions League last-16 tie against Basel as well as key league fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Sane has been a key attacking player for the Premier League leaders this season, scoring 11 goals and providing 14 assists in all competitions.

City boss Guardiola complained after the match against Cardiff that his players needed more protection from referees, although Cardiff manager Neil Warnock said his managerial counterpart should “expect” tackles in English football.

However, speaking to the press on the eve of City’s Premier League clash with West Brom, Guardiola disagreed with Warnock’s viewpoint.

“He (Sane) is injured, six or seven weeks out,” Guardiola said. “Neil Warnock has more experience than me by far about the English football. When he says that, what can I say? I was here 18 months and I think English football was not like this.

“My feeling is English football is not like this. But again, Neil has more experience than me. He has spent all his career in England and that is why his opinions are his opinions.”

Guardiola said new record signing Aymeric Laporte would be ready to slot straight into City’s backline as he justified the club’s sizable outlay on defensive recruits.

Laporte, 23, completed a £57 million ($80 million, 65 million euros) switch from Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday, eclipsing the £55 million City paid Wolfsburg for midfielder Kevin de Bruyne in 2015.

Guardiola has now spent more than £200 million on reinforcing his defence, also bringing in Benjamin Mendy, John Stones, and Kyle Walker in big-money deals.

“Some clubs spend £300, £400 million on two players. We spend it on six players,” Guardiola said.

“We had a problem last summer with six players out of contract. When you want to compete at the highest level, you need to spend.

“Maybe one day this club will spend £100 or £130 million on one player but we decide not to do it.”

The City boss said the Frenchman was ready to play immediately.

“We needed a centre-back in summer time but we still have a lot of games to play and decided to try and bring him right now. Our summer window will be easier because is done.

“He is a young player who has played since a young age in La Liga, so the biggest stages. He is strong in the air, fast, quality with the pass, so delighted, happy and grateful.”

Although Laporte’s deal has been completed, Guardiola said he did not know whether the player would be registered in time to play against West Brom.

The Catalan said Laporte’s arrival at the Etihad Stadium does not mean he will let centre-back Eliaquim Mangala leave the club in this window and is “99 percent sure nothing else will happen” in terms of incomings.

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Chelsea try to ignore transfer deadline madness and more Premier League previews

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte wants to splash the cash.

Wednesday night is set to witness a packed round of seven Premier League fixtures.

Highlights include Chelsea looking to avoid the distraction of transfer deadline day, while seriously injured right-back Seamus Coleman could make a welcome return for sinking Everton.

Here, we look ahead to the action.

CHELSEA V BOURNEMOUTH (23:45)

Consolidation is the key word for the Blues, who’ll be watching the impending transfer deadline just as closely as this meeting with Bournemouth.

The Blues expect to land Roma left-back Emerson Palmieri will little fuss. But it is in attack where question marks remain.

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud and Roma’s Edin Dzeko seem the most-likely arrivals today, with Michy Batshuayi likely to head the other way on loan to Borussia Dortmund.

They will need to manage a mini injury crisis, Spain striker Alvaro Morata and Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois likely absentees. Eden Hazard could lead the way for a side in line for second spot.

Opponents Bournemouth are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games. They have also had 11 days to prepare for this game, courtesy of their early exit from the FA Cup.

Chelsea target Emerson Palmieri (r) in action for Roma.

Chelsea target Emerson Palmieri (r) in action for Roma.

EVERTON V LEICESTER (23:45)

A returning hero provides a rare bright spot for Everton as they prepare to welcome Leicester to Goodison Park.

All eyes will be on Republic of Ireland right-back Seamus Coleman, who will be in the matchday squad for the first time since suffering a double fracture of his leg last March.

Happiness has been hard to find in recent weeks for manager Sam Allardyce. He’s lost four of his last five games, after four wins in his first five matches, and vaunted new Turkey centre forward Cenk Tosun has had only one shot in his first two matches.

They face a Leicester side revitalised by the decision to draft in Claude Puel as boss. League One’s Peterborough were ruthlessly beaten 5-1 in the FA Cup last weekend, plus the Frenchman’s Foxes debut in October saw Everton beaten 2-0.

January addition Fousseni Diabete scored twice on debut in the Cup. Will he feature?

Seamus Coleman is a popular figure at Goodison Park.

Seamus Coleman is a popular figure at Goodison Park.

NEWCASTLE V BURNLEY (23:45)

The gloom has returned to St. James’ Park.

Manager Rafael Benitez has – at the time of publishing – only been able to add Chelsea utility man Kenedy to his shallow squad, they exited the FA Cup at the weekend and the salvation of a takeover seems further away than ever.

Worryingly, the Magpies are winless in seven top-flight home games.

If results don’t go their way in midweek, they will also find themselves in the drop zone. With only two wins in their last 15 matches and the likes of Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge snubbing them, their descent looks set to continue.

A rare positive is provided by the recent fallibility of Burnley. With suspensions and injuries to key players taking hold, the Clarets are winless in their last seven Premier League games.

They must hope ex-England winger Aaron Lennon can put in a flying start on debut after his move from Everton.

Rafael Benitez is enduring a frustrating time at Newcastle

Rafael Benitez is enduring a frustrating time at Newcastle.

SOUTHAMPTON V BRIGHTON (23:45)

Striker Leonardo Ulloa is guaranteed to be raring to go, now he’s freed from the confines of Leicester’s bench and back on loan at the club at which he shone before leaving three-and-a-half years ago.

The Argentine scored 26 times in 58 matches on the south coast. But he’s only played 19 minutes in the Premier League this season, not that manager Chris Hughton is concerned ahead of this game.

He said: “He’s in the squad and we are happy with his levels. We have found it difficult to get the goals we need, so to have that competition and options in that position is definitely something we wanted.”

For Saints, they desperately need a result to shake themselves back into life. They are winless in their last 11 Premier League games, just one short of their longest ever winless run in the competition (ending in March 1995).

A debut could be handed to their Argentine striker, Guido Carrillo.

Leonardo Ulloa (c) as a substitute for Leicester.

Leonardo Ulloa (c) as a substitute for Leicester.

MANCHESTER CITY V WEST BROM (00:00+1)

The record-breaking buy of France Under-21 centre-back Aymeric Laporte has added intrigue to a clash the runaway leaders should easily win (00:00 +1).

The call to lavish €65 million (Dh57.2m) makes for interesting sub-plots. Will head coach Pep Guardiola revert to a three-man defence? If the four-man defence remains, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi must start staking their cases to remain in the fiendishly competitive battle for the XI.

City remain in rude health, winning their last 10 home matches to a combined score of 28-8.

Opponents West Brom hold a contrasting problem. They have bagged just 19 times in 24 games, leaving them second bottom.

Their snatching of ex-City starlet Daniel Sturridge from Newcastle this week and stirring FA Cup win at Liverpool show they won’t go down without a fight.

Aymeric Laporte (r) in action for Athletic Bilbao.

Aymeric Laporte (r) in action for Athletic Bilbao.

STOKE V WATFORD (00:00+1)

The most recent appointments in the Premier League are set to lock horns at bet365 Stadium.

Paul Lambert was, literally, punching the air on debut as victory over Huddersfield Town ended a four-match losing run.

Building momentum is the key challenge for the Scot – under sacked predecessor Mark Hughes, the Potters have not won consecutive top-flight matches since last January’s triumph against Sunderland and tonight’s opponents, Watford.

A greater adaption period is under way for the Hornets, for whom Spaniard Javi Gracia lost his first game in English football at the weekend when downed 1-0 by Southampton in the FA Cup.

“I don’t know how long it will take to get over my ideas to the players,” he said of the defeat. “We tried to improve against Southampton, but it is hard to give an exact time.”

Remarkably, 10th-placed Watford are only three points ahead of 17th-placed Stoke.

New Stoke manager Paul Lambert (r).

New Stoke manager Paul Lambert (r).

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Analysis for Tottenham v Man Utd as Harry Kane and Alexis Sanchez prepare for a shootout

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One of the Premier League’s marquee fixtures take place on Wednesday when Manchester United run-out at Wembley against Tottenham – added spice provided by Alexis Sanchez making his Premier League debut versus his former club’s hated rivals.

Spurs will be eager to avenge the meek 1-0 loss at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture and stay well in the mix for Champions League-qualification. For United, they’ll be hoping for an instant return on the enormous investment made in their new Chile superstar.

Here, we compare the sides through their key assets using statistics from the 2017/18 top flight.

LEADING MARKSMEN

Harry Kane v Alexis Sanchez

Games: 23-19

Goals: 21-7

Assists: 4-3

Goals per minute: 93.2-215.4

After sulking away his final half season at Arsenal, all eyes will be on Sanchez tonight.

Stolen from Manchester City’s grasp to great fanfare, this is supposedly a signing to match the revitalising impact of the iconic Eric Cantona in November 1992.

United fans will dream of immediately seeing the swashbuckling forward who plundered 24 goals and 10 assists in the 2016/17 Premier League. If they get the man whose current campaign tally stands at seven goals and three assists, the disappointment will be palpable.

Sanchez has only two strikes in eight career games against Spurs. What a time to improve this record.

There can be no question marks about the expected involvement of Harry Kane this evening.

Europe’s top goal scorer in Europe for 2017 has continued in the same vein in 2018. The England man has six goals from six matches in all competitions, such lethal form seeing rumours strengthen about Real Madrid’s intentions to lead a summer revolution with his capture.

Kane’s importance to Spurs bears repeating. Of their 47 goals in 24 top-flight matches this term, his 21 equates to 44.6 per cent.

He is also making up for lost time against United, missing October’s 1-0 defeat with a hamstring strain.

3101l kane v sanchez

NO-ONE SHALL PASS

Hugo Lloris v David De Gea

Games: 22-24

Goals conceded: 20-16

Clean sheets: 9-14

Saves: 45-80

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino will be desperate for his goalkeeper to get the medical all-clear to feature in this fixture.

Lloris has missed Spurs’ last two matches, 1-1 draws against Southampton and Newport County, through illness. But he has returned to training this week.

The France No1 is more than a shot-stopper for his side, providing essential leadership as well as stunning reflexes.

For all understudy Michel Vorm’s qualities, it is no surprise goals have gone in both times under his watch.

For opposite number De Gea, is any one player more important to his club’s success?

United boast the joint-best defence in the Premier League, with 16 goals conceded alongside Chelsea. Yet the Spain superstar has been forced to pull off 80 saves.

To put this into perspective, this figure is only beaten by Swansea, Stoke and Everton. Chelsea’s goalkeepers have faced nearly half as many, with 48 saves recorded.

Against Spurs’ north London rivals Arsenal in December, De Gea made 14 saves – the joint-most in a Premier League game since statisticians Opta started collecting this data in 2003/04. He will hope for a quieter evening, but a similar 3-1 win would be most welcome.

3101lloris v de gea

MIDFIELD MACHINES

Dele Alli v Paul Pogba

Games: 23-14

Goals: 5-3

Assists: 7-9

Pass-accuracy percentage: 78.9-84.3

These are the types of huge matches Paul Pogba was brought back, at a princely sum, to decide.

The France centre midfielder was imperious for 74 minutes of United’s 3-1 victory at Arsenal last time they faced opposition from north London, laying on two glorious assists. But his two-footed lunge on Hector Bellerin and subsequent red card highlights a stunted season, in which bans and injuries have seen 10 Premier League fixtures missed.

Only the free-scoring Manchester City duo of Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane can better his nine assists. United also haven’t tasted defeat since October 2016 with Pogba in their line-up.

There has been less positivity about the performances of Spurs attacking midfielder Dele Alli this term.

The England maverick is currently notching a Premier League goal or assist every 160.9 minutes. This is a noticeable drop from 2016/17’s 121.8 minutes and 2015/16’s debut 130.6 minutes.

Issues about focus and off-field distractions, such as the clamour to become his new agent, appear to have messed with his influence on the field.

At Old Trafford in October, he was also guilty of a glaring miss prior to Anthony Martial’s solitary strike. He cannot afford to be so generous, this time.

3101 delle v pogba

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