Anass Zaroury: Who is Burnley winger replacing Amine Harit in Morocco’s World Cup squad?

Anass Zaroury of Burnley celebrates after scoring their side's second goal during the Sky Bet Championship between Burnley and Blackburn Rovers at...

The 22-year-old, capped by Belgium from under-17 to under-21 level, has settled quickly to life under compatriot Vincent Kompany in Lancashire – six goals and two assists since his August transfer – and French reports today suggest he’ll be the man tasked with replacing Amine Harit in Morocco’s World Cup squad after the Marseille midfielder’s nasty knee injury on Sunday. Continue reading

Carabao Cup Final – Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Citizens rampant over limp Gunners

Goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva helped secure Pep Guardiola’s first piece of silverware with a dominant display over Arsenal to win this year’s Carabao Cup. The Gunners – who struggled for large periods – seemed to almost relinquish their self-belief after conceding the second.

Plenty of questions will be asked in the aftermath, as the Citizens aim to use this momentum in their quest for the elusive treble while Arsenal disappoint across all fronts as their rivals continue to strengthen. Continue reading

Eliaquim Mangala: A year on

Eliaquim Mangala: A year on

A year after he made his City debut, following a big money switch to the rigours of the Premier League – how has the Frenchman fared so far?

Eliaquim Mangala. It seems like just yesterday, Manchester City secured the services of the French centre-back. A reported fee of £32million pounds was talked about across social media, and eyebrows were unsurprisingly raised. Plenty of critics emerged, especially given the sum of money. But, City were happy to pay it, and although he’s shown flashes of brilliance from time to time, he’s also endured some moments thus far which he’d wince when reflecting back upon.One of his best performances for the sky Blues last season, was undoubtedly during their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at the Ethiad. Having joined Manuel Pellegrini‘s side off the back of a World Cup summer, he hadn’t signed by the time the club went on their pre-season tour, and was already behind in terms of the season’s preparations by a few weeks.

Mangala was already behind in his pre-season preparations

However, the rigours of the Premier League initially, didn’t faze him. His sheer pace, power, agility and strength – not to mention his aerial presence, meant he fit the mould of a defender City had been crying out for years. He was touted as the perfect man to partner Vincent Kompany, and lead the Citizens to glory. So, what went wrong?

Well, City’s defensive frailties were a major concern to their title charge. Kompany was often out-of-form, injured, or often indifferent from December onwards – which was frustrating to see for a captain to uncharacteristically drop below his extremely high standards.

Mistakes and goals began to creep in

Mangala was caught out on a number of occasions, either when he was required to play the ball out from defence, or just silly mistakes he made; which cost the team goals. As you’d know, goals decide games and although City had more-than-adequate firepower in attack with Sergio Agüero up-top, they struggled in the defensive department of the team.

The inconsistency displayed by the big Belgian meant someone had to step up, and realistically speaking, it couldn’t be Mangala. Not because he’s not good enough, but simply a man of little experience, in an unforgiving league. No towering figure alongside him to give helpful advice, thrown in at the deep end, the worst was expected and soon enough, many prematurely branded him as a “flop”.

Unfairly branded a flop – proven otherwise

Martin Demichelis got his chance centre-stage, and to the Argentine’s credit, he did himself justice. What he lacks in speed and agility, he makes up with his near-perfect positioning, interceptions galore and the concentration he possesses to rarely make mistakes deep into the second-half of a match, where City are holding onto a narrow lead.

His experience was vital in helping Mangala himself settle in, because in the absence of their captain, someone needed to step up. As the season continued, despite the fact that they could no longer challenge for the Premier League title itself, Mangala and the rest of the City players grew in confidence as the season drew to an eventual close. Demichelis, who at 34-years-old, was expected to be nothing more than a squad player, exceeded expectations significantly.

Having only conceding six goals in their concluding six fixtures of the league season, with four clean sheets to boot, City were able to finish the league campaign strongly and managed a second placed finish – albeit eight points behind Jose Mourinho’s men in the final standings.

A promising start, turbulent middle, and impressive end to the 2014/15 term, it’s debatable whether or not Mangala has actually justified his hefty price-tag, just yet. That being said though, he’s still developing and eager to improve. Plenty of opportunities to prove his doubters otherwise.