Manchester City eye autumn advantage over Liverpool

Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola says he is aiming to maintain the standards he has set in his second and third seasons in charge. (AFP)
Updated 30 August 2019

Manchester City eye autumn advantage over Liverpool

  • Guardiola’s team expecting to collect maximum points in upcoming matches

MANCHESTER: Manchester City may trail Liverpool by two points in the early season running for the Premier League title, but opportunity knocks for the champions in a two-month stretch beginning with Saturday’s visit of Brighton to the Etihad.

The visit of the Seagulls is the first of eight Premier League games Pep Guardiola’s men face against sides outside of the traditional “top six” before a daunting trip to Liverpool on Nov. 9.

That run could see City travel to Anfield with a comfortable lead in the title race, with Liverpool set to face Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham in the meantime.

The form book over City’s last two title-winning seasons certainly suggests Guardiola will be expecting his team to collect maximum points over the next couple of months.

Including comfortable wins already this season on the road against West Ham and Bournemouth — by a combined 8-1 scoreline — since the start of the 2017-18 season, City have won 50 of the 58 games they have played against the 14 clubs outwith the top six in the Premier League.

Liverpool, the only side to have started the new season with three wins out of three, will hope that City finally start to falter.

But with everyone apart from the two northwest giants showing early-season inconsistency, the fact remains that the title may be reduced to a two-horse race by the time the clubs meet in November.

After Brighton, City face home games against struggling Watford, Wolves, Aston Villa and Southampton and travel to Norwich, Everton and Crystal Palace.

And Guardiola insists he can only concentrate on maintaining the standards he has set in his second and third seasons in charge.

“I’m not going to think about many points we need to be champions, or if Liverpool’s going to win or if we’re going to win,” he said.

“I know the opponent we have in Liverpool and all the other teams, especially the contenders, but what we are looking for, from the first day I came here, is to try to play in the way we have played.

“I think we dignify this sport, we dignify the people who pay to come to watch us and see how honest we are — to play for the people. And, more than anything, I would like — when I finish my period here — to leave that. “The first season, but especially the last two seasons, we were an incredible team.”

Key to City’s success has been the strength in depth available to Guardiola and he could hand first starts of the season to new signing Joao Cancelo and Fernandinho, who has fallen down the pecking order since Rodrigo’s arrival.

Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Benjamin Mendy miss out through injury, while John Stones remains a doubt.


FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix

Updated 03 December 2020

FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix

  • The Halo device is widely considered to have helped save Romain Grosjean’s life

SAKHIR, Bahrain: Motor racing chiefs announced on Thursday the launch of an investigation into Romain Grosjean’s fiery Bahrain crash, saying the forensic probe would take “around six to eight” weeks to complete.
The French Formula One driver somehow wrenched himself free from his blazing Haas car with just burns to his hands and a broken left foot after a collision with Daniil Kvyat on the first lap of Sunday’s Grand Prix. He left hospital on Wednesday.
In the immediate aftermath of the shocking smash there was widespread praise for modern safety measures in the sport, but also concern over what F1’s motor sport managing director Ross Brawn described as “unpredictable” failures.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said it had “initiated a detailed analysis of Romain Grosjean’s accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.”
The FIA’s safety director, Adam Baker, said: “With so much data available in Formula 1, it allows us to accurately determine every element of what occurred and this work has already begun.
“We take this research very seriously and will follow a rigorous process to find out exactly what happened before proposing potential improvements.”
The FIA probe will look at a range of factors including Grosjean’s helmet, safety harness, headrest, in-car extinguisher and the Halo cockpit protection.
The Halo device is widely considered to have helped save Grosjean’s life as his car was sliced in two after careering into a barrier.
“The ‘halo’ saved the day and it saved Romain,” Brawn said on Sunday.
“There was controversy in developing it initially, but there can’t be any doubt now, so hats off to those who pushed for the introduction.”
But he added: “The fire is worrying. The split in the barrier is worrying and the barrier coming apart, but we can be happy with the safety of the car – that got us through today, but things failed in an unpredictable way.
“We haven’t seen anything like that for a very long time, but the barrier splitting normally results in a fatality.”
At the circuit new safety measures have been introduced to reduce the risk of a repeat crash at this Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Two rows of tires wrapped in a conveyor belt have been installed in front of a reconstructed guardrail at the exit of Turn Three.
Several drivers expressed serious concerns at the failure of the barrier and the manner in which it was punctured.
In other changes to the circuit, where this weekend’s Grand Prix will be using the shorter “outer loop’, a kerb has been removed at Turn Nine – which was used as Turn 13 last Sunday – and a tire barrier in the approach to that corner has been extended and enlarged to four rows in depth.
Grosjean left hospital on Wednesday and in an Instagram post he highlighted the professionalism of a marshal with an extinguisher and the FIA doctor in the following Safety Car, who was on the scene very quickly.
“I told him he was a hero,” said Grosjean.
“He went into the fire as much as he could to save me. I felt Ian’s hands pulling me over the barrier and I knew I was safe... life will never be the same again.”
Grosjean is resting and healing from burns at a hotel in Abu Dhabi where he hopes he will be fit enough to race in the season-closing race next weekend.