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Rediff.com  » Sports » Football Briefs: Guardiola prefers improving performance over points record

Football Briefs: Guardiola prefers improving performance over points record

August 08, 2018 16:26 IST

News of all that's transpired on and off the football field

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

IMAGE: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Manchester City will aim to improve their performance rather than beat last season's record-breaking Premier League tally of 100 points, manager Pep Guardiola has said.

Defending champions City became the first side to reach 100 points in a Premier League campaign and finished last season 19 points above their closest rivals Manchester United.

"People ask 'can you improve on 100 points' and I say no because we are not here to do that. However, individually the players can improve," Guardiola said during the Sky Sports Premier League launch.

 

"Of course we can improve. If I felt we could not improve the team I would call my chairman and say: 'I leave'. But still, we believe we can do better and dominate more. Will it happen? I don't know but we believe we can do it."

City begin the new season with a trip to Arsenal on Sunday and Spaniard Guardiola suggested the London side could pose a serious challenge this season under new manager Unai Emery.

"Arsenal I think are going to be more consistent as a team," Guardiola added. "It will be tough like it has to be. It's nice because every season the Premier League is tougher and tougher.

"Unai is a work ethic guy. He knows everything about the opponents. He achieved something unique in European football in three Europa Leagues in a row and he handled himself well at PSG. He's a top, top manager and it will be tough."

Henderson in contention for opener, says Klopp

Liverpool will give skipper Jordan Henderson every chance to be ready for Sunday's Premier League opener against West Ham United despite the midfielder only returning to pre-season training on Sunday, manager has Juergen Klopp said.

Henderson, who helped England to a fourth-placed finish at the World Cup, impressed his manager with his fitness levels and played 20 minutes in Tuesday's 3-1 pre-season win over Torino.

"We have to see how he reacts. But it is Hendo, so to be honest in the first session it looked like he trained for the whole three weeks," Klopp told the club website.

"He's experienced enough not to bring himself in difficult situations where he has to run two or three miles in two minutes.

"I have no clue what we will do at the weekend."

West Ham's Pellegrini eyes balance in attack and defence

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has said the Premier League club must first improve their defending if they are to fully embrace his attacking philosophy.

The London club conceded 68 goals last season, the joint highest alongside relegated Stoke City. Pellegrini, who took charge of the club in May, said his priority was to stem the flow of goals and achieve balance between attack and defence.

"Last season, they had one of the worst defences in the league, so this year we'll try and be balanced while always thinking that we want to score one goal more than the opposition," Pellegrini told the club website.

West Ham's resolve could be tested in their opening league match at Liverpool on Sunday.

Juergen Klopp's side scored 84 goals last season, behind only champions Manchester City (106) and have shown no signs of stepping off the gas in pre-season, scoring 27 goals in nine matches.

"In the Premier League, you never know which is the most difficult game," Pellegrini added.

"To play away to Liverpool to start the season is a very strong team who played in the Champions League final last season and also fighting for the league title is difficult."

Gueye backs new signing Digne to shine in Everton's back line

Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye is relishing the prospect of working with new signing Lucas Digne and said the left back had all the qualities to be successful in the Premier League.

Digne, 25, who joined Everton from Spanish champions Barcelona last week, is well known to Gueye from their time playing in the French Ligue 1 for Lille.

"He is a good young player and hopefully he will show what he can do in our team," Gueye told the club website.

"He is a really strong left back – his standout feature is the quality of his defending. It is tough to dribble past him. He is very good at one-on-one defending."

Digne is expected to compete with experienced left back Leighton Baines for a spot in the starting XI.

"He can go forward and be dangerous in attack but he gets back quickly. And his crossing is excellent," Gueye added.

Everton take on promoted Wolves in their opening league clash on Saturday.

Fulham bring in Arsenal defender Chambers on loan

Fulham have signed Arsenal centre-back Calum Chambers on a season-long loan deal as they prepare for the new Premier League campaign after winning promotion via the playoffs.

The versatile 23-year-old, who can also play at right-back or even as a defensive midfielder, came through the youth ranks at Southampton and joined Arsenal in 2014.

"I watched a lot of Fulham last season. I really like the way they play football. There's a good manager (Slavisa Jokanovic), it's a great club, so I'm really excited for the season ahead," he said.

"Everyone can see that Fulham's a club that likes to play football, play football from the back, through the lines. That's the style of football I like as well, so I think it fits me and suits the way I play," he added on the club website.

Chambers, who has three England caps, last month signed a new four-year deal at Arsenal, having played 82 times for the club.

New Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who believes Chambers has a bright future at Arsenal, said: "We all believe this loan at Fulham will be an important part of his development and wish him a successful season."

Fulham, based in West London, have signed eight players in the close season, including Andre Schuerrle, Alfie Mawson and Jean Michael Seri, with striker Aleksandar Mitrovic making a loan move permanent.

Bournemouth sign Colombia's Lerma in club record deal

Bournemouth have finally captured Colombia central midfielder Jefferson Lerma from Levante on a five-year deal for a club record fee, the Premier League team announced on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old, whose transfer is subject to international clearance, played in all of Colombia's games at this year's World Cup in Russia, including the last 16 loss to England.

The transfer fee for Lerma was not disclosed, but British media reported that he was moving for 25 million pounds ($32 million), which beats the previous record of 20 million pounds the club paid for Dutch defender Nathan Ake from Chelsea last year.

"The transfer has been very long because it took a while for the clubs to reach an agreement, but the most important thing is that I am here now and everyone got what they wanted in the end," Lerma told the club website http://www.afcb.co.uk/news/first-team/lerma-signs-in-club-record-deal

"I have always loved the Premier League style of football and am very happy to have this opportunity. I am looking forward to success and doing important things for this club."

Lerma started out with Colombian side Atletico Huila and joined Spanish Liga club Levante in 2015, initially on loan, playing 93 games in all competitions and scoring three goals.

He made his Colombia debut in November 2017, featuring nine times so far, and played at the 2016 Olympics.

"Jefferson is an extremely talented player and a very good athlete who will bring a different type of play to our midfield," said Cherries manager Eddie Howe.

He is the club's third close-season signing after Sheffield United midfielder David Brooks and Leganes full-back Diego Rico.

Bournemouth chief executive Neill Blake added: "It hasn’t been easy and we have had to be patient, but we have got our man and it is a huge statement for this club.

"A new record transfer speaks volumes of the ambition of our owners to continue progressing the club and competing in the Premier League."

Aston Villa sign Norway goalkeeper Nyland

Aston Villa have signed Norway goalkeeper Orjan Nyland from Germany's Ingolstadt on a three-year contract, the Championship club said on Tuesday.

Nyland is Villa's first permanent signing under new billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, who acquired a majority stake in the West Midlands club last month.

The Norwegian's arrival follows Villa's loan signings of Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Andre Moreira and Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe in the close season.

"I'm looking forward to playing for this big club and can't wait to get started," Nyland told Villa's website https://www.avfc.co.uk/News/2018/08/07/orjan-nyland-joins-aston-villa "Everything has moved very quickly and I'm really happy to be here and call myself a Villa player."

Fiorentina sign Croatia winger Pjaca on loan from Juventus

Juventus' Croatia winger Marko Pjaca has left the Serie A champions to join rivals Fiorentina on a one-year loan for a fee of two million euros ($2.32 million), the clubs said on Tuesday.

Fiorentina have the option to make the 23-year-old's move permanent for 20 million euros at the end of the season, Juve said in a statement on the Italian stock exchange.

The Croatia international, capped 19 times, played in the World Cup final defeat by France as an 81st minute substitute. He played three matches at the Russia finals, starting against Iceland and coming on versus Nigeria in the group stage.

He joined Juventus in 2016 from Dinamo Zagreb for 23 million euros and spent the second half of last term on loan at Schalke 04, playing seven times and scoring twice in the Bundesliga.

Egypt's record-breaking El-Hadary hangs up his gloves

Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who became the oldest player in World Cup history in Russia, has announced his retirement from international soccer aged 45.

El-Hadary earned the last of his 159 caps for the national team in a 2-1 group stage defeat by Saudi Arabia as Egypt crashed out of the tournament with three losses.

The veteran overtook Colombia's Faryd Mondragn, who played the last five minutes of a group game in Brazil four years ago, at the age of 43 years and three days.

"After 22 years, four months and 12 days, I saw it as the best moment to hang up my gloves," El-Hadary said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

"I'm proud to have played with the national team in 159 internationals, participating in unprecedented achievements.

"I hope I have succeeded in my mission over the past years. I extend my thanks and gratitude to my family, who have borne the difficulties of my life and supported me in all my steps."

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