Kevin De Bruyne turns focus to Man City's crucial clash with Liverpool

Press Association Sport 18:09 07/11/2019
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Kevin De Bruyne is relishing the challenge as Manchester City prepare for this weekend’s crunch clash at Liverpool.

The Premier League champions head to Anfield on Sunday for their first meeting of the season with the Merseysiders, who lead the table by six points.

They do so on the back of a 1-1 draw with Atalanta in Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday, a result which meant City still have work to do to a secure a last-16 spot.

But with a five-point lead in Group C and two fixtures still to play, that should be a formality. Sunday’s encounter is a far more pressing issue and De Bruyne is looking forward to playing in a formidable Anfield atmosphere.

The Belgian said: “I prefer to play in that than when there is nobody. Professionals want to play in front of 50, 60, 70, 80 thousand people and it makes it worthwhile.

“You train all your life to get to the big stages. I want to compete for titles and to be the best, and to do that you have to win against the best.

“The media will make a lot of it, and people have been talking about it for the whole week, even before the Champions League, but we just do our job, keep calm and prepare ourselves.”

City, who famously pipped Champions League winners Liverpool to the Premier League title by one point last season, have a poor record at Anfield.

City have only won there once since Boxing Day 1981, and that was in 2003.

“I don’t care,” said De Bruyne. “A lot of circumstances will decide the game. What can a player do with statistics like this?

“It’s a game like another. We know it’s a big game – Liverpool are ahead. We have to go back, recover and be ready for next Sunday.”

City will be anxiously awaiting updates on goalkeeper Ederson, who was forced off at half-time against Atalanta with a thigh injury.

His obvious replacement, Claudio Bravo, may also not be high in confidence after being sent off late in the game following his introduction as a substitute.

City ended the game hanging on for a draw with Kyle Walker in goal.

It all seemed so different from early in the game when Raheem Sterling rounded off a fine team move to score the opener after seven minutes.

City failed to build on their advantage and Atalanta responded well to Gabriel Jesus’ missed penalty before half-time, levelling through Mario Pasalic. From then it was they who looked the more likely side.

De Bruyne said: “We dominated (the first half) and in my estimation it should have been 2-0 or 3-0, and the game is over.

“We gave them the opportunity to come back and the second half was more difficult.

“These things happen, but after the red card, we did what we had to do. We weren’t going to play stupid and openly, but we controlled it. It’s a good point.”

The closing moments also gave Walker, who made one save, something to talk about for years to come.

“He’s buzzing,” said De Bruyne. “It happens and you have to improvise, and he did his job.”

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Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney thinks players must fix poor form not boss Unai Emery

Press Association Sport 17:20 07/11/2019
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Kieran Tierney insists it is up to the Arsenal players to address a poor run of form as pressure continues to mount on head coach Unai Emery.

A 1-1 Europa League draw against Vitoria in Portugal on Wednesday afternoon only ramped up the criticism aimed at Emery as the Gunners were lucky to leave Guimaraes with a share of the spoils.

Shkodran Mustafi opened the scoring for the visitors with an 80th-minute header – Arsenal’s first and only effort on target during the game – only to see Bruno Duarte equalise in stoppage time.

It is the fourth time in 10 days that Emery’s side have let a lead slip and Arsenal have now won just one of their last six games across all competitions.

Emery was defiant following the game when was asked about speculation linking former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho as a potential replacement – simply replying “I am the coach.”

But as the whispers surrounding Emery’s future seem to increase in volume with each passing game, Tierney believes turning results around is a challenge that lies on the shoulders of the players rather than their beleaguered coach.

Asked if he was convinced Emery was the right man to address the recent slide, the Scotland defender replied: “Yes, of course.

“It is up to us as players to correct it on the pitch. For me, he (Emery) has been brilliant since I’ve come in.

“I have learned a lot. I am learning a lot every day, playing with great players. Everybody in the changing room has got belief in each other and the manager.”

Tierney, who joined from Celtic for £25million in the summer, also credited Emery with helping him develop his game as he looks to establish himself in the Arsenal side having made the move while carrying a groin injury.

“The players around me are making me a better player as well. I am just learning and I am enjoying every week,” he said.

“He likes to keep the ball, pass the ball with a possession type game and for me I am just learning and working on my technique with him.

“I am working on passing and crossing – everything in general. I am working with the coaches as well, so just all round I am learning.”

Tierney has started just six games for Arsenal as the club continue to manage the 22-year-old back to full fitness.

He has also been omitted from the last two Scotland squads at the request of Arsenal after the club put in place a full recovery programme.

It means Tierney will miss the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus and Kazakhstan but he accepts the decision and is keen to rest up, also revealing Scotland are on board with the situation.

“They (Scotland) understand,” he added.

“Of course you want to play for your national team, but you need to do what is best for your career long-term.

“Tonight this my second game in five days so near the end I was tiring.

“It is probably the right decision as now I am going into the international break knowing I am getting a rest and recovery, because since my operation the load has went up, up and up.

“To get a rest would be beneficial and hopefully for the next camp I’m ready.”

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Jason McAteer heaps praise on Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold

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When Jason McAteer donned the red of Liverpool, he glided up the right wing with aplomb, his marauding runs putting fear into opposition defenders.

The former Irish international established himself as Liverpool’s most natural attacking wing-back during his five seasons at Anfield.

Now, twenty years on from his days on Merseyside, the 48-year-old is highly impressed with the creativity instilled in Liverpool’s full-backs under Jurgen Klopp.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, along with Andrew Robertson, are statistically the most creative players in the Premier League.

The former, in particular, is enjoying a stunning start to the campaign and is rightly earning praise for some superb performances on both domestic and European stages.

“His progression is a very quick one and it’s been phenomenal. He likes to go forward. He’s always got a lot of runners and options ahead of him,” said McAteer, speaking at DHL Swing against Cancer event in Dubai.

“He’s been given his opportunity from a slight bit of luck and injuries. But then you have to prove your worth and prove your good enough to stay in the team.

“He’s a very level-headed guy. I know his mum well and, knowing her and the way she is, she’s lovely women and there’s no way he’s stepping out of line.”

Alexander-Arnold looks confident with the ball at his feet, bursts up and down the field, and produces cleverly weighed crosses into his attackers – racking up 12 assists last campaign.

Widely regarded as one of the most promising right-backs in Europe, McAteer sees a comparison to his progression and influence under Klopp to that of Raheem Sterling and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

“I think when you look at Raheem Sterling and his move to City, if Pep Guardiola was not his manager, we wouldn’t be talking about him the way we are now. Sometimes it’s the right manager for the right player in their progression,” said McAteer.

“I think Trent and Jurgen is that relationship as well. What Jurgen does for Trent’s confidence, belief and the license he gives him to play has helped Trent the way he plays today. At 21, you could say he’s the best right back in Europe now.”

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