Ilkay Gundogan happy to repay faith shown in him by Pep Guardiola by helping Man City claim title

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Gundogan has thrived at City under Guardiola.

Ilkay Gundogan has paid tribute to manager Pep Guardiola, revealing his happiness at being able to repay the faith shown in him by the Catalan after he returned from a devastating injury by helping Manchester City claim the Premier League title.

City were named champions of England for the third time in seven seasons in unexpected circumstances on Sunday when second-placed city rivals United went down to an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat to bottom side West Bromwich Albion.

German international Gundogan has been an intrinsic part of City’s dominant title triumph, fitting seamlessly back into the side this season after returning from a right knee cruciate ligament injury that overshadowed his summer 2016 arrival at the Etihad Stadium.

The 27-year-old spent nine months on the sidelines after suffering the injury in December 2016 but has recovered this season to play 25 league games and score four goals in City’s merciless charge to the title.

Gundogan was Guardiola’s first signing at City and he has credited the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss with getting him back to his best.

“After my comeback he gradually gave me more and more time on the pitch, getting me closer and closer to my best possible performance,” said the 25-times capped Germany midfielder.

“He has put much trust in me and I am happy I was able to pay some of it back during this season. I think he is one of the best coaches in the world and I’m really grateful to be able to work with him.”

Gundogan was Guardiola's first signing when he arrived at City.

Gundogan was Guardiola’s first signing when he arrived at City.

Guardiola is renowned for his intensity and Gundogan provided an insight into that mentality, adding: “He was a great player himself, he has been in our shoes. He always asks for 100 per cent, in every training session, every match.”

Guardiola’s first English title will be added to an impressive collection trophies during his 11-year managerial career which has seen him collect domestic titles in three countries.

He won three league titles in Spain with Barca, as well as the Copa del Rey and Champions League twice apiece. In Germany he lifted three Bundesliga crowns and two DFB Pokals, adding the Premier League trophy to the EFL Cup this year.

And even though City’s league triumph is a first English one for both Guardiola and Gundogan, the German says neither he nor his manager will be content with stopping at one.

“Although some of our players have won it before, it’s our first title as a group of players under the new manager,” he said.

“That step is always a difficult one but we have worked hard all season and we are delighted to achieve it. We have developed together and there is a lot of potential. What we all have to do now is to work hard and believe in our ability to keep succeeding.

“But the competition in the Premier League is much harder than in Germany. We have five or six teams who are all able to win the league and that makes it incredibly difficult. But we are ambitious and we aim to win every game.

“It’s really exciting to train among such good players. To compete with them means to push myself to new limits in every session. I think it is a great benefit for all of us. And with the long season and all the different competitions everyone has played their part.

“If we continue with this mentality then there’s no reason we can’t continue in this way. We [he and Pep] share our idea of the game.”

City’s stars celebrated their unexpected early coronation in a myriad of ways on Sunday, with the majority of the squad heading to the Railway pub in Hale, where they celebrated long into the night with fans and captain Vincent Kompany gave a rousing victory speech.

The Belgian was joined by the likes of Bernardo Silva, Kyle Walker and John Stones, while manager Guardiola was playing a round of golf with world number 12 Tommy Fleetwood.

Even though they were given three days off from football by the boss, however, Gundogan didn’t stray too far away from his day job, taking in the Ruhr derby in his native Germany between former club Borussia Dortmund and Schalke.

“I didn’t get to watch the United game. We’d been given a few days off by the manager and so I travelled over to Germany to watch the Schalke v Dortmund game,” said Gundogan.

“I’d made my plans as soon as I realised that it wouldn’t interfere with our own matches, but it’s fair to say I didn’t expect the hear the news that United had lost.

“I was still in the stadium with my cousin and uncle enjoying dinner after the game when news came through. Schalke v Dortmund is a pretty big deal in Germany and the most important derby in the Bundesliga so it was great to be there.”

Gundogan’s own celebrations later that evening were perhaps a little calmer than those of his teammates back in Manchester, but he revealed the celebratory mood was encapsulated in the players’ WhatsApp group.

“I spent a really nice evening with my family and friends at home,” added Gundogan.

“There were no big parties for me though. Everyone was getting in touch to congratulate each other in our team WhatsApp group. None of us really expect it to happen last night but it was great that it did and I know the whole team have been celebrating.

“It was a great moment for me – my first Premier League title. I’m obviously very happy. We have worked so hard for this and to win the title means so much to all of us having spent the season performing well.”

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Romelu Lukaku's goalscoring knack and other facts as Man United visit Bournemouth

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Manchester United will be travelling to face Bournemouth at Dean Court.

Jose Mourinho’s side will be aiming to get back to winning ways after suffering a disappointing 1-0 defeat to West Brom on Sunday.

Here we take a look at some interesting stats and facts prior to the game.

– After winning their first Premier League meeting with Man Utd (2-1 in December 2015), the Cherries have lost three and drawn one of the subsequent four.

– The Red Devils have only failed to score in one of their previous 13 meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions, losing 0-2 in an FA Cup tie in January 1984, when the Cherries were managed by Harry Redknapp.

– Indeed, both teams have found the net in four of the previous five Premier League meetings, with Man Utd’s 1-0 win in  December the only time a team has kept a clean sheet.

– 11 of Bournemouth’s last 12 home goals in the Premier League have come in the second half of games.

– Similarly, Man Utd’s last 10 away Premier League goals have all come after half-time.

– Of teams to have played more than twice, Manchester United have the best win rate in games played on Wednesday’s in Premier League history (63% – won 64/102).

– Manchester United have come from two goals down to win their last two Premier League away games – the first side in the history of the competition to do so.

– Indeed, only twice has a side come from behind to win three consecutive away games at all in the Premier League – Leeds in October 1999 and Tottenham in December 2013.

– The Cherries have conceded in each of their last 11 home Premier League games, the longest current run in the division.

– Romelu Lukaku has scored six goals in his five Premier League appearances against Bournemouth, including the winner in the reverse fixture in December, and a four-goal haul against them for Everton last season.

Statistics provided by Opta

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Kevin De Bruyne keen to win more trophies under Pep Guardiola at Man City

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Kevin De Bruyne hopes to win many more titles with Manchester City and Pep Guardiola.

De Bruyne has been one of the standout players in City’s superb Premier League campaign but Guardiola, their inspirational manager, was the mastermind.

City were confirmed as champions, with a record-equalling five games to spare, after Manchester United were beaten by West Brom on Sunday.

The club’s top priority this summer will undoubtedly be securing the services of Guardiola, who also oversaw Carabao Cup success in February, for longer than the one year remaining on his contract.

De Bruyne said: “Everyone knows he’s one of the best coaches in the world. To achieve what he has achieved in the game is special and to be part of a group of players led by him can only help us to keep developing.

“He came in two years ago and changed the way we play. That obviously takes time to adapt to but we’ve developed together and this season is a reward for all that work.

“What we want to do now is continue playing the way we have this season and become even stronger. He’s a big part of that and hopefully these can be his first trophies of many here at City.”

De Bruyne believes the current squad is well placed to build on this season’s achievements.

The Belgium playmaker said: “It’s no coincidence that the type of players brought in over the last year or two have all been of a similar age and we will look to build as a group together. The feeling amongst the squad is great.

“We have enjoyed the season a lot but there is work to do if we want to achieve more in future. That can be the trickiest thing in football, to not only win but keep winning. Having such a young squad will hopefully help us to achieve that.”

Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan also believes the foundations are in place for sustained success.

The Germany international, who had been back in his homeland watching former club Borussia Dortmund play Schalke when he learned he was a Premier League winner, said: “Although some of our players have won it before, it’s our first title as a group of players under the new manager.

“We have developed together and there is a lot of potential. What we all have to do now is to work hard and believe in our ability to keep succeeding.”

City’s top scorer Sergio Aguero, one of the City squad to have won previous titles, was pleased there were no final-day dramas this year.

Aguero famously scored the injury-time winner against QPR in the last game of the season in 2012 to secure the crown, while his 2014 triumph was also only sealed on the final day.

The Argentina striker, scorer of 30 goals this season, said: “This is my third title with City and it’s just a relief not to have to wait (until) the final day this time!

“This season has been incredible and the football we’ve played has been the best I’ve been involved with while at the club.”

City are likely to be presented with the Premier League trophy after their home game against Huddersfield on May 6 but this is still to be officially confirmed.

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