Man City star Sergio Aguero better than ever under Pep Guardiola

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The understanding between Pep and Aguero is now immense.

Sergio Aguero‘s next goal will his 200th for Manchester City, but it is the Argentine’s willingness to do much more than just score that has won the confidence of his manager Pep Guardiola.

The Catalan embraced Aguero in a bear hug as he left the pitch having ran himself into the ground in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea, which edged City to within four wins of the Premier League title.

It was the first time in eight home games Aguero had failed to find the net, but that mattered little to Guardiola, who is now seeing the all-round game from Aguero he demands of his strikers.

“Since we were together here with Sergio, I think the last month, two months is the best Sergio I have seen,” said Guardiola, preparing his team for the visit of Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday.

“Not just scoring goals, but he doesn’t lose one ball.

“He makes a movement for runs in behind, he is the first guy to make a high pressing, to help that second line be more comfortable with the ball.”

Those words contrast sharply with a reportedly frosty relationship between the coach and his star striker during Guardiola’s trophyless first season in the northwest of England.

Aguero, 29, still scored 33 goals in all competitions, more than he ever had for City in a single season, but often found himself on the sidelines in the second half of the season as Guardiola opted instead for Gabriel Jesus.

Aguero has been in lethal goal-scoring form this season.

Aguero has been in lethal goal-scoring form this season.

“In the first year at times we didn’t adapt,” Aguero admitted to Spanish radio station Cadena SER.

“But this year, with all we have learned from last year, I think we have learned what he wants – how to play out from the back, the movements, so it makes it much easier on the pitch.”

Aguero has also been aided by injury to Jesus. The Brazilian suffered medial ligament damage to his left knee on January 31 and has only returned with three short cameos off the bench in the past week.

During Jesus’s two-month layoff, Aguero doubled his tally for the season to move onto 30 goals and re-establish himself as City’s number one striker.

The club’s decision not to get involved in a bidding war with local rivals Manchester United for Alexis Sanchez despite long-standing interest, and even though Guardiola had previously worked with the Chilean at Barcelona, was another vote of City’s confidence in their all-time top goalscorer.

That trust is mutual, with Aguero now backing Guardiola as the best coach he has ever had.

“I’ve had a lot of coaches and they all had different thoughts and obviously differing tactics,” said Aguero. “The truth is yes (he’s the best).”

Yet, for all his goals and all he has achieved since arriving in Manchester in 2011, Aguero is still to taste Champions League glory.

City, with the League Cup in their trophy cabinet and the Premier League virtually sewn up, have certainly never been as well-equipped to do so in Aguero’s time.

Guardiola’s team look assured of progress to the quarter-finals at the Etihad, with the luxury of a 4-0 win against their Swiss opponents in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

“If we keep going like this we have a very good chance,” said Aguero.

“The club has invested a lot of money to win the Champions League, so hopefully it is our year.”

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Man City defender Benjamin Mendy returns to training

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Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy has stepped up his recovery from a long-term knee injury by returning to training with the Premier League leaders.

City released photographs of the France left-back participating in a session with his team-mates on Monday.

The 23-year-old has been out of action since suffering knee ligament damage and undergoing surgery in September.

“When I started my recovery, I had in mind the semi-finals of the Champions League,” Mendy told the club website, www.mancity.com.

“That was my goal, but I am coming back a bit quicker than expected originally so maybe it will be possible for me to return sooner than that. I believe in this.

“I think it’s possible for me to come back within four weeks. It’s not a good thing to come back too soon and you have to take your time.”

Pep Guardiola’s side hold a commanding lead at the top of the Premier League and are all but guaranteed a Champions League quarter-final place after a 4-0 win against Basel in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Gary Neville takes swipes at Man United star Paul Pogba

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Gary Neville has criticised Paul Pogba for performing as if “everything he does is like a YouTube or Instagram video” during the first half against Crystal Palace.

The Manchester United midfielder gave the ball away with a long attempted pass before Andros Townsend gave Palace a 1-0 half-time lead.

“His great weakness is that he plays like he’s playing in the park with his mates,” said former United defender Neville on Sky Sports.

“It’s like everything he does is like a YouTube or Instagram video. It’s like it’s not serious, it’s like a joke to him in terms of the way he goes about things.

“It’s no wonder (manager) Jose Mourinho has left him out for the past few weeks a number of times.”

Neville was also critical of the lack of chemistry between Pogba’s team-mates.

He added: “I’ve never seen a Jose Mourinho team as inefficient as this. There always efficient teams, they always do things really calmly, they are usually solid in defence.

“He won’t recognise, I don’t recognise this as a performance. They are just individuals. They play in moments, they are not a unit yet.

“They’ve got to come together quickly because they’ve got to finish the season strongly but, most importantly, how are they going to get to a level that competes next season with Manchester City? They are nowhere near that level out there.”

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