Manchester City aim to finish difficult season on a high note

Nick Wright

Comment and Analysis @nicholaspwright

Manchester City’s Premier League title defence has not gone to plan but they still have big targets to aim for. We look at the key talking points around Pep Guardiola’s side ahead of the restart…

Last Updated: 12/06/20 12:43pm

Ban looms but silverware in sight

This is a big week for City. At the same time as resuming their season with a Premier League clash at home to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, live on Sky Sports on Wednesday, they begin their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against their two-year ban from European competition.

A failure to overturn the ban could be costly for a club desperate to establish themselves on the Champions League stage – Kevin de Bruyne has already said it would leave him with a decision to make on his future – and it also heightens the importance of this season’s competition.

City hold a first-leg lead over last-16 opponents Real Madrid having beaten them 2-1 at the Bernabeu in February, but there is work to do to book their place in the quarter-finals and they cannot afford to lose focus as they chase their first taste of European success under Guardiola.

City must apply the same focus in the Premier League. A strong finish to the campaign will not be enough to overhaul Liverpool, who are 25 points clear and two wins away from clinching the title, but it could help Guardiola’s men generate the momentum they need in the cup competitions.

As well as the Champions League, remember, City have the FA Cup to play for having beaten Sheffield Wednesday in the fifth round before the lockdown. This has been Liverpool’s season. But City have the Carabao Cup in the bag and two more trophies in their sights. They could yet finish it on an even higher note than their rivals.

De Bruyne’s POTY quest continues

Kevin de Bruyne will be particularly eager to finish the Premier League campaign strongly.

The Belgian was outstanding in the months leading up to the lockdown, his performances so good that despite Liverpool’s runaway lead at the top of the table, many are tipping him to beat Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and the rest to the Premier League Player of the Year award.

He has produced 16 assists in 26 Premier League appearances so far, meaning he only needs four more in the final 10 games of the season in order to match Thierry Henry’s record for a single season. In total, he has created 96 scoring chances – 21 more than any other Premier League player.

There have been eight goals too – including a double when City last faced Wednesday’s opponents Arsenal – giving him the highest combined total of goals and assists in the Premier League this season. He has been similarly impressive in Europe, scoring one goal and setting up the other in City’s win at the Bernabeu.

A continuation of that form could be enough to clinch his first Player of the Year award in five stellar seasons at City – especially if Liverpool take their foot off the gas once their title has been confirmed. Don’t expect any let-up from De Bruyne.

Silva’s swansong, Foden’s chance

For David Silva, the resumption of the season means he will get the Manchester City farewell his achievements at the Etihad Stadium deserve – albeit behind closed doors. The 34-year-old confirmed this would be his final season at the club last summer and that’s still the plan.

The Spaniard is regarded by many at City as the greatest player in the club’s history having been instrumental in four Premier League title wins, two FA Cup triumphs and five League Cup successes. In total, he has amassed 423 appearances for the club since his arrival from Valencia in 2010. City fans will always cherish his contribution.

Man City vs Arsenal

June 17, 2020, 8:00pm

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Even this season, at a time when he is supposed to be slowing down, he has produced some excellent performances, providing three goals and seven assists in 19 Premier League appearances and also impressing in the cup competitions.

He still looks as comfortable as ever in City’s midfield, but soon the attention will turn to the man charged with filling the void he leaves behind. Phil Foden has long been talked up by Pep Guardiola and was the best player on the pitch in City’s Carabao Cup final win over Aston Villa in March. Will a regular starting spot soon be his?

Of course, City may dip into the market for more midfield reinforcements when the transfer window opens this summer, but Foden will hope to use the remaining weeks of the season to show that he is capable of stepping up and replacing City’s celebrated Spanish magician. The 20-year-old has big shoes to fill.

Watch the Premier League live on Sky Sports

  • 64 live games on Sky Sports from provisional restart date of June 17
  • 25 games to be made freely available
  • New Sky Sports digital innovations also planned to enhance fan experience

The Premier League 2019/20 season will provisionally restart on Wednesday, June 17 and Sky, the UK’s leading football broadcaster, will make 25 games available ‘free to air’ – including Everton vs Liverpool on the first full weekend back – for everyone in the UK to enjoy.

Sky Sports will show 64 live Premier League games when the season resumes. In addition to the 39 matches already scheduled to be broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports before the coronavirus interruption, 25 more matches will be available on both Sky Sports Premier League and Sky’s free-to-air Pick channel, allowing the whole nation to be part of the return of live sport.

To celebrate the return of the Premier League, Sky Sports will also launch a host of innovative new features and updates to give fans an even more immersive experience and share the moments live with family and friends on virtual platforms.

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