Manchester City is looking for its 11th consecutive win in the Premier League (PL) this season with yet another clash between Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta.
It’s one of those very entertaining and rare occasions where you find bitter rivals secretly rallying behind public foes if at all they can help manipulate statistics to the best of their team’s chances.
It’s evident Manchester United has no good bussiness with Arsenal but the red devil’s army will atleast be supporting Arsenal to win today against their rivals Manchester City to help reduce the big margin of points between the first and second teams on the log.
After 24 games before today’s encounter, United is 2nd with 46, 10 behind table leaders City with 56.
United’s wish is that if atleast Mikel Arteta’s men can pick all 3 points against Guardiola’s side to keep them at 56 as they hope to add 3 to make 49 in their own encounter against Newcastle. That would reduce the gap between City and United by 3 to 7 from 10 points.
That’s a very tall order from a rival more so to the Gunners who are struggling themselves. Offcourse they want to, and can also win against City today but high chances are they will hardly manage to.
The student will challenge the master when Mikel Arteta attempts to outthink Pep Guardiola at the Emirates Stadium, though the Man City supremo looks ready to teach his former protegee a lesson in London.
Going into today’s game;
- Manchester City have won each of their last 17 games in all competitions.
- Man City have already beaten Arsenal twice this season, once in the league and once in the Carabao Cup.
- Man City have scored exactly three times against Arsenal in three of the clubs’ last six encounters.
Fatigue to catch up with Arsenal stars
Arteta rolled out his big guns on Thursday evening for Arsenal’s Europa League draw against Benfica, though his decision to field his stars could backfire when the Gunners take on the possession hungry Citizens this weekend.
Domestically, Arsenal have been way off the pace in the Premier League and they could find themselves in the division’s bottom half again if they lose to City for the third time this season.
City unstoppable at the moment
City overcame a first half wobble to sweep Everton aside in convincing style on Wednesday evening, and the Citizens’ 3-1 victory at Goodison Park was their 17th win in a row in all competitions.
Kevin de Bruyne also made his comeback from the subs’ bench in the games’ final throes on Merseyside, and though City haven’t missed a step in his absence, the midfield maestro’s return should make them even stronger.
City already gripping onto the title
Already ten points clear at the top of the table, City look set to romp home to the Premier League title, and the Citizens can take another big step towards silverware with another win against Arsenal.
City thumped the Gunners 4-1 when they last visited the Emirates for a Carabao Cup clash just before Christmas, and a similar outcome looks possible when Guardiola’s relentless juggernaut powers through North London again on Sunday.
The Cityzens’ impressive defensive record has been well documented, though they have kept just three clean sheets in their last nine on the road, and that record only back Arsenal to atleast score as City could most possibly score more to win.
Arsenal Injuries and team news
Kieran Tierney made his comeback as a substitute on Thursday and the Scottish fullback should be ready to start against City.
Thomas Partey didn’t travel with Arsenal in midweek however, and the midfielder remains a doubt for Sunday.
Manchester City injuries and team news
Nathan Ake is City’s only major injury concern, with Ilkay Gundogan expected to return following a minor groin complaint.
Kevin de Bruyne will expect to start for the first time since his return to fitness, while Argentinean striker Sergio Aguero is also pushing for a place in the XI.
By Baron Kironde
In Things! Vipers SC Land Another Sponsorship Deal Worth Millions With Plascon Paint…
Uganda Premier League (UPL) defending champions and current table leaders, Vipers SC have landed another big sponsorship deal with painting company, Plascon.
Besides the Venom’s main sponsor, HIMA Cement, which boldly appears on the front of their jersey, Plascon will be printed at the back of the Vipers shirt just below the shirt number.
Effective Wednesday when Vipers play Bright Stars FC at the St Mary’s stadium, Plascon will appear on their jerseys.
Vipers SC today penned down a two-year partnership contract worth Shs400m shillings with Plascon as their official paint partner.
Plascon Managing Director, Santosh Gumte handed over the dummy cheque worth Shs400m to Vipers Club President, Dr. Lawrence Mulindwa, at the official unveiling of the notable partnership deal.
By Baron Kironde
INTERVIEW: Ismael Watenga Reveals How He Ended Up In Chippa, Opens Up About His Brotherhood With Onyango And Why He’s Always On The Move…
Ugandan goal keeper, Ismael Watenga has been linked with 4 different teams in less than three years after leaving Vipers SC towards the end of 2018.
Watenga made a landmark signing this season with South African side, Chippa United. The Chilli Boys confirmed the arrival of the Cecafa Cup-winning goalkeeper after he had trained with rivals and PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
Watenga intimated to theGrapevine about how he ended up at Chippa, and what really happened. He also opened up about his mysterious short spells in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Watenga also revealed why he left Vipers where he enjoyed a successful seven-year stint, Watenga also won a domestic trophy and on the international front, he won the 2015 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Ethiopia.
Here is the full interview of Watenga with theGrapevine;
THE GRAPEVINE: You have been labeled a club traveller by football pundits of late for your adventurous moves from soccer clubs, how does that appeal to you?
WATENGA: That’s their own opinion. Ask those pundits if it’s bad to develop as a player. Everytime I move, I be aiming at better.
THE GRAPEVINE: So, you still haven’t found better after less than 3 years in 3 different clubs since departing from Vipers in 2018?
WATENGA: I have now gathered experience from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and now S. Africa. I don’t think that’s bad. And now that I’ve come here (S Africa), I’ve found it the most competitive.
THE GRAPEVINE: What are the challenges you’ve faced playing in S.A PL so far?
WATENGA: Not so many professional challenges, maybe personal troubles. It’s honestly not easy playing away from home, I’m always home sick. You find different cultures, and different people with various behavioural patterns yet you have to fit in.
THE GRAPEVINE: Your stay in Ethiopia was very short, why did you leave so early? What exactly happened?
WATENGA: For Ethiopia, the club got another coach who wanted to use only home based players. I worked so hard and felt I should’ve helped the team sometimes I was not fielded. But it seemed like he was determined about his motive to rely on only home based players. I had to leave.
THE GRAPEVINE: And what went wrong in the Sofapaka deal?
WATENGA: I met their expectations but they couldn’t reward me equally.
THE GRAPEVINE: But you left very soon as you had joined with all the other Ugandans Malunda Mousa and Allan Katwe. Was it the same challenge for all of you in Kenya?
WATENGA: I will speak for myself. For me, I had signed 1 year contract with a clause of leaving anytime I get the offer. So after a time the president thought I was good enough to help the team and told me to extend the contract and my agent tasked him to improve my earnings, which did not happen.
THE GRAPEVINE: But some reports indicate that you left Sofapaka after a heated argument arising from you and the management from an alleged match fixing scandal.
WATENGA: What I know is that my agent formally failed to agree with the club. The club proposed their offer which my agent was not happy with.
THE GRAPEVINE: So for you it’s all about the money?
WATENGA: This is my job, and I have the right to earn well from it, but I had to leave because the team wanted players who would sign longer contracts to stay for more years, that’s why I left.
THE GRAPEVINE: You were so big here and you chose to leave. You were shining here. In S. Africa at the moment, you’re not even guaranteed to start games, isn’t that going to degrade your good form?
WATENGA: But staying in the same league (UPL) for years was not improving me either. I was not growing as a goalkeeper.
THE GRAPEVINE: But do you also think about it that so many big clubs here would surely welcome you back with both arms wide open.
WATENGA: I’d rather stay here and fight for my place as a foreign player at Chippa or Mamelodi than comfortably stand between the goal posts back home at Vipers or any other club?
THE GRAPEVINE: You’re a very big prospect in Uganda’s goal keeping future, and you made regular appearances on the CHAN team before you left for professional football outside Uganda, and it has clearly been harder for you to break into the senior team ranks since, do you at any time feel you should’ve stayed home to make it easier for you to cement your position on the national team?
WATENGA: I have no regrets. Maybe I’m not making the national team call-up list, but I’m not the same player I was back home in Uganda. The vast experience from different leagues has nurtured me more.
THE GRAPEVINE: Is that honest from you? Every football player’s dream is to represent their nation.
WATENGA: That’s what I’m saying, I’ll work hard from here (S.Africa) and return to the national team, the hard way. A strong man doesn’t choose the easy path because he knows well that it will lead him nowhere. A real man fights his way out the hard way. And the most successful people are those who have manned up to face the challenges and overcome them. You can’t sleep at home and wake up great tommorow. The only thing now is to keep on working hard the right time will come.
THE GRAPEVINE: And to be more specific, you left for S. Africa on Mamelodi’s invitation, what happened to see you now at Chippa instead?
WATENGA: I have a short term contract with Chippa United. But I aim for the top, if Mamelodi is the best here, that’s my target, I’ll work so hard to go there.
THE GRAPEVINE: So what’s your next destination after S. Africa?
WATENGA: I am not a tourist. I am a football player who came here with a purpose.
THE GRAPEVINE: But we have seen you leave Ethiopia and Sofapaka on very short notice before, you could be secretly planning another quick move away from S. Africa.
WATENGA: I leave South Africa now, to where? This is the best league in Africa! I want to settle in here.
THE GRAPEVINE: You could maybe head to N. Africa where there’s such good competition as well, or even Sudan which has become a good market for Ugandan players.
WATENGA: I have a running contract here and so I can’t again start thinking about where to go when I’m still here. I believe there are millions of players in Africa who wish to come and ply their trade here.
THE GRAPEVINE: How do you cope up with life so far away from home?
WATENGA: I miss my family so much. I wish to be with them, and I know they miss me too. But good thing is they know I’m far away from them to create a better life ahead for all of them.
THE GRAPEVINE: Doesn’t that create emptiness within your kids and trust issues in your relationship with your wife?
WATENGA: It’s not the first time. I was in Ethiopia and Kenya before. They all know I am here for work so they understand. We always talk on video calls so it’s like we are always together.
THE GRAPEVINE: What do you count as your greatest achievement as a footballer so far?
WATENGA: Now let me remind you just in case you’re forgetting, I came from a small village in Nakaloke, Eastern Uganda, and now I’m signed here as a professional footballer with a big S. African club. For me, that’s too much already. I believe I wouldn’t be here if not for football.
THE GRAPEVINE: What is your best moment in football so far?
WATENGA: I’ve created many good memories in football, and I’ve had so many precious moments in football I can’t choose one specific time.
THE GRAPEVINE: And your worst moment as a player?
WATENGA: I can’t forget when I got ruled out of the CHAN tournament with a nasty injury in Rwanda. I was psychologically tortured. I know it’s part of my job but it’s a horrible experience to get injured.
THE GRAPEVINE: You look so contented with staying here (S. Africa)
WATENGA: When I came here (S. Africa), I linked up with Dennis Onyango and Moses Waiswa, they really helped me alot to adapt.
THE GRAPEVINE: So you’re having a great time here?
WATENGA: Yes, as a fact, when I was still training with Mamelodi Sundowns, Onyango could personally pick me up to go for training in his car. I felt like I was home so far away from home.
THE GRAPEVINE: It’s evident Onyango likes you so much. He freely expresses it on many occasions.
WATENGA: I think it’s a blessing to be loved and I thank God for that. He’s such a humble guy.
THE GRAPEVINE: Is he preparing you to be his successor?
WATENGA: Hahaha He’s just good to everyone. He advises me on how to do things on and off the pitch. I don’t think he in his capacity as a player can choose which player should play. That’s not his job.
THE GRAPEVINE: You have been exceptionally articulate. Your communication skills are impressive.
WATENGA: Hahaha I was at one of the best schools in Uganda (Kitende) So what do you expect?
THE GRAPEVINE: How is your relationship with your former principal Mulindwa ever since you left Kitende?
WATENGA: He will forever be my father.
THE GRAPEVINE: When did you last talk to him?
WATENGA: I have taken long with out meeting him. And you know Mulindwa is a very busy man. He can only meet you on special appointment. We’re given only a maximum of three weeks off season with so many things to do so here and there. But next time I come back to Uganda I’ll have to meet him.
By Baron Kironde
UPL: Venomous Vipers Finally Break Arua Jinx To Dislodge On-Form Express From The Top Position…
Vipers SC have moved back to the top of the StarTimes Uganda Premier League (UPL) after scoring 3 to Onduparaka FC’s 1 goal at the Greenlight Stadium, Arua.
It was the Venom’s first win in Arua in the UPL, sending them top of the league with 24 points.
Express with 22 points have been dislodged to 2nd position, as other potential title contenders, Police FC have a chance to go 2nd if they win against Bright Stars.
The Caterpillars find themselves 9 points adrift the top.
For Vipers that has ambitions retaining the league title, picking maximum points from every game like this one is very vital.
Ibrahim Orit put the hosts ahead in the 26th minute with a brilliant header, resulting from a well weighted delivery from Disan Galiwango from the corner kick.
Cesar Manzoki doubled Vipers’ lead with a good tap in off a rebound from Paul Mucureezi who came on for former Onduparaka star boy Muhammad Shaban.
Mucureezi got himself into the score sheet too to make it 3 for Vipers.
Kabon Living pulled one back for the hosts in the dying minutes of the game but it was only enough for a consolation as it ended Onduparaka 1:3 Vipers.
Vipers are still unbeaten on the road so far this season but have to improve their performance away from home. Today’s away win for Vipers has come after their last victory last December against Busoga United at the Fufa Technical Center and have since then registered draws.
They played to 1-1 and 2-2 stalemate with Express FC and Kyetume FC at Wankulukuku and Njeru respectively but needed to quickly return to winning ways especially with a tough fixture awaiting them beginning next week.
Allan Kayiwa returned for the Venoms after being dropped against Kyetume FC, Police FC and BUL FC.
Rashid Toha back from a hamstring injury was named to face his former pay masters for the very first time since joining Vipers.
The Venoms will face Bright Stars FC and Mbarara City FC next week before hosting SC Villa. Their last two matches before winding down the first round will be against URA FC and KCCA FC in Ndejje and Kitende respectively.
By Baron Kironde
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