Manchester City have underachieved since the club was taken over by Sheikh Mansour in 2008 and would even make ‘lucky’ Premier League champions this season, according to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
City won the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League title in 2012, but they were unconvincing in their title defence last season and also lost the FA Cup final to Wigan.
In Europe, the team have only progressed beyond the Champions League group stage once in three attempts, failure which cost former boss Roberto Mancini his job at the end of last season and leading Mourinho to refute their recent tab as the best team in the world on current form.
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“They are lucky,” Mourinho said. “The referees, they try to do their best and sometimes they make mistakes and normally during the season the mistakes are split between teams. “In their case, they have everything in their favour.”
He added: “The reality is they have many crucial decisions in their favour.” City and Chelsea meet in the Premier League on Monday evening.
Atletico celebrate in style
On an emotional evening at the Vicente Calderon, Atletico Madrid beat Real Sociedad 4-0 to become the outright Spanish league leaders for the first time this season.
Atletico took full advantage of Barcelona’s slip up at home to Valencia and Real’s 1-1 draw away to Athletic Bilbao, a game in which Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off in the second-half, to move three points clear of Spain’s traditional heavyweights.
The Situs Domino99 Pkv performance had special meaning for the club, as ex-players and fans paid tribute to former Spain and Atletico player and coach Luis Aragones, who died on Saturday. Current boss Diego Simone was delighted with the manner in which Atletico handled the tense environment.
Simone said: “When someone like Luis leaves us there is pain and sadness, but today the fans, the game and that silence for the first eight minutes before they sang his name moved me. From above he would be wearing red and white and happy with the bravery we showed.
“Real Sociedad made it difficult without creating great chances. Defending didn’t worry me, but the problem was when you don’t attack and it was difficult for us to get out in the second-half.
“The changes gave us some freshness. We had the ball more and we managed to get going again. It is a win against a very difficult opponent.”
Arsenal midfield receives welcome boost
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain marked his first Arsenal start since the opening match of the season with two goals, prompting Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to announce that the 20-year-old’s long-term future for club and country is as a central midfielder.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who picked up a knee injury in Arsenal’s 3-1 opening day defeat to Aston Villa, scored both the club’s goals to beat Crystal Palace 2-0 and return to the top of the table ahead of Manchester City’s match with Chelsea on Monday night.
Better still, his return has helped soften the blow of the injuries to Jack Wilshire and Aaron Ramsey, as well as new loan signing Kim Kallstrom, and the suspension of Mathieu Flamini.
“I’ve always believed that he can play wide and central,” said Wenger of Oxlade-Chamberlain. “I’ve said many times that his future will be central and he has proven me right today by scoring the goals and through the quality of his performance. “It took him a quite a while to get back because he was injured against Aston Villa on that famous day. Overall, I’m pleased that he’s back to full fitness. You could see that, at some time near the end, that he’s still a bit short.”
Bayern break more records; look to break even more
Bayern Munich could retain their Bundesliga title in record-breaking time after inflicting a crushing 5-0 thumping on Eintracht Frankfurt to extend their lead at the top of the table to 13 points.
The victory extended Bayern’s record unbeaten league run to 44 matches, while when Mario Gotze volleyed them ahead, they also set a top-flight European record of scoring in 56 consecutive league matches, beating Arsenal’s 55 in 2001.
It is now simply a question of whether the Bavarians can secure their 24th German league title before April 5th, the date on which they seized the Bundesliga championship in record quick time last season.
Elsewhere in Germany, second-placed Bayer Leverkusen broke their three-match losing streak with a 2-1 win at home to Stuttgart.