Manchester City star Sergio Aguero heaps praise on Kevin de Bruyne after win over Leicester

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Sergio Aguero struck four but deflected praise onto Kevin De Bruyne after Manchester City‘s 5-1 thrashing of Leicester.

City’s top scorer ran riot in the second half at the Etihad Stadium, firing the Premier League leaders to an emphatic victory after Jamie Vardy had cancelled out Raheem Sterling‘s early opener.

Aguero’s quadruple – incorporating his third hat-trick of the season – took his total for the campaign to 28 and his overall City tally to 197.

But as impressive as the Argentinian was, City again owed a lot to the irrepressible De Bruyne, who created his side’s opening three goals in another outstanding display.

“Luckily Kevin De Bruyne is playing for us and helping us to score,” said Aguero, who with 143 Premier League strikes is now only three short of moving into the competition’s top 10.

“I am very lucky because most of the goals come from his assists – I just have to hit the ball. I am happy for him as well. He is a great player and any team in the world would love to have him.” 

Most of the pre-match headlines were made by Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez, who was back on the bench after ending more than a week of self-imposed exile following the collapse of a move to City.

But the Algerian could only watch as City raced out of the blocks.

The hosts took a third-minute lead through Sterling, the England international turning home a De Bruyne cross from close range to exorcise the memory of a miss from similar distance at Burnley the previous week.

The Foxes replied with a breakaway goal from Vardy but City took a grip as Aguero struck twice in quick succession after half-time. Leicester sent on Mahrez but to no avail, with Aguero netting twice more.

It was a good way to sign off from Premier League action for the month, with City having Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup commitments in the next fortnight.

“The goals are very important because they help the team to win,” said Aguero. “But I think we are very close to achieving important things. That is why I am very happy, personally and for the team.”

Leicester boss Claude Puel, who insisted Mahrez had been welcomed back into the group, admitted his side were outplayed.

“They had more confidence, found more quality and took the space,” the Frenchman said. “We played against a good team and a fantastic striker in Sergio Aguero. He scored four fantastic goals.

“It is tough for us to concede five goals – it was a big disappointment – but we were a little lucky to come back in the first half and be on level terms.

“The second goal made it too difficult for us because they have the quality to play between our lines and recover the ball quickly, with strong pressing. It was too difficult for us to resist.”

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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is one of the best players in the world right now, says Samuel Eto’o

David Cooper 11/02/2018
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Liverpool star Mohamed Salah

Former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o believes Liverpool star Mohamed Salah is currently one of the best players on the planet.

Salah has been in stunning form since his summer switch from Roma, scoring 21 goals in the Premier League to inspire the Reds’ push for a top-four spot.

The 25-year-old’s performances have even seen him linked with La Liga giants Real Madrid, however, Eto’o believes the Egypt icon is a future Liverpool captain.

“He has probably been one of the best players in the world,” Eto’o said.

“His performances for Liverpool have been great and, for me, I am always glad to see African players at the top level.

“He deserves his awards and hopefully he has more years like this.

“He will not scream at you to do this or do that but people like him command respect.

“His attitude off the pitch also makes him a natural leader. He can grow into the captain there.”

Salah is likely to take his place on Liverpool’s right side once again as they travel to Southampton on Sunday with Jurgen Klopp’s men looking to consolidate their place in the top four ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 trip to FC Porto.

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Arsenal's Henrikh Mkhitaryan was worse than invisible against Tottenham - he was detrimental

Alex Rea 11/02/2018
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Arsenal's Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Harry Kane proved Arsenal‘s nemesis again as his bullet header earned Tottenham a deserved 1-0 victory in the north London derby.

Spurs could have won by more at Wembley had they not squandered countless chances in the second half but Kane’s seventh goal in eight versions of this fixture was enough to seal all three points.

Here, we look at three things learned from an Arsenal perspective.

MKHITARYAN IS WORSE THAN INVISIBLE 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was in shocking form

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was in shocking form.

Actions speak louder than words and this week Henrikh Mkhitaryan should have kept quiet because his performance against Spurs screamed average.

“Jose Mourinho required a lot from the players. A lot, he was very hard. Arsene Wenger is friendlier, he understands, can think about players’ situations, is calmer. That’s the difference,” the Armenian told SFR Sport this week.

Shame for Arsenal there is no difference in his displays from those in a Manchester United shirt.

The playmaker was ostracised for his anonymity in the big games but he was worse than invisible against Spurs – he was detrimental for Arsenal.

Indeed, Mkhitaryan may be one of the few deserving of a negative player rating because he was negligible in a set-up which required flair and ingenuity.

Compacting the midfield and defending deep, Arsenal had to counter-attack with craft and speed but Mkhitaryan’s 80 per cent pass success rate was the second worst of any in their starting XI.

The proverbial balloon blown up by his three-assist performance against Everton was acutely popped on Saturday, leaving a flatulent mess in its wake.

Aimless passes under no pressure combined with little work rate hallmarked a dire display, the damaged goods shipped off by United in exchange for Alexis Sanchez appears to be the deal of the century.

BUT AUBA IS THE TRUE INVISIBLE MAN 

A dejected Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

A dejected Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang touched the ball 23 times against Spurs – the least of any player in Arsenal’s starting XI – and managed zero shots during 90 minutes.

And yet those damning statistics have precious little to do with Arsenal’s record buy.

Indeed, while Mkhitaryan was the one labelled anonymous, Aubameyang was actually the one who must have been invisible to his teammates.

This is no exaggeration, countless times the 28-year-old was completely free in space to the left, and on almost every occasion the players in behind failed to see him despite other options being cut off.

Ultimately, he was let down by the inability of the playmakers behind him – Mesut Ozil and Mkhitaryan – to have any discernible impact on the game.

We all know his style, piercing pace on the shoulder of the last man to break in behind and considering how high Spurs’ line was, you would have expected Ozil and Mkhitaryan to have been capable of creating chances for him.

But the Gunners didn’t play to his strengths and when they eventually did and sprayed longer balls, Alexandre Lacazette was brought on in the spearhead with Aubameyang forced out wide.

Arsenal ended up looking incredibly imbalanced and the Gabon international looked dejected in a position which was clearly an uncomfortable one for him.

ARSENAL’S WEAKNESS IS THEY ARE WEAK

In every area of the pitch Wenger’s side lost the physical battle. It’s not the first time this has been said, and for this group of players, it won’t be the last time either.

Defensively solid in the first half, the Gunners lost their discipline after the break.

The chasm between Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny for Kane’s header was indicative of the wide gap between the quality of the two sides.

In possession there was no ownership and at times no communication. Midfield was arguably even worse with Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny a dire duo.

Mousa Dembele was superb and he practically dominated Arsenal’s midfield three by himself with only Jack Wilshere coming out of the game with any credit.

The Belgian used his physicality to eliminate any pressure, then displayed great footwork and ball retention skills to set Tottenham’s attacks in the opposite direction.

Granted, he is a unique footballer in the sense he bulldozes and pirouettes around the pitch like beauty and the beast infused but Arsenal had no answer.

They were simply second best and in the end the 1-0 scoreline flattered to deceive.

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