Fernandinho’s bravura display in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Premier League title rivals Liverpool proved he is irreplaceable, according to manager Pep Guardiola.The Premier League champions closed to within four points of Jurgen Klopp’s leaders at the summit thanks to goals from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane either side of Roberto Firmino’s second-half equaliser.Fernandinho sat out City’s back-to-back defeats against Crystal Palace and Leicester City last month, with John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan providing uneasy alternatives at the base of Guardiola’s midfield as Liverpool were gifted the initiative. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? And, in a season when star man Kevin De Bruyne has been limited to a solitary league start due to medial knee ligament injuries, Guardiola knows he can ill afford his 33-year-old midfield general spending any more time on the sidelines.”Fernandinho’s specific qualities, we do not have a replacement for him – his kind of duels, the way he is going backwards,” said the City manager.”He is an incredible, outstanding player for us. Against Liverpool he showed it again.”And pray, pray [for him] to be fit for as long as possible.”Another veteran of City’s previous title triumphs, Aguero, opened the scoring on Thursday by beating Alisson with a thunderous finish from an almost implausible angle.Friday mood! pic.twitter.com/X4QUAHP2FO — Fernandinho (@fernandinho) January 4, 2019 It was the Argentina striker’s 250th league goal of a career that started with Independiente in his homeland before a move to Atletico Madrid. Guardiola ranks City’s all-time top scorer Aguero and Fernandinho among a select few of his first-team squad for whom winning is akin to a drug – proven characters who could be pivotal should the battle with Liverpool go to the wire.”Always he responds,” the ex-Barcelona boss said of Aguero. “He has these incredible numbers.”I have a lot of respect for the players who stay 10, 11, 12 years – every year doing that. They are the ones I respect the most.”Everybody can make an exceptional season or good moments in six months or two seasons.”But players like Vincent [Kompany], like David [Silva], like Sergio, like Nicolas Otamendi, who every single year are there competing with the desire to do more and more and more…”Winning is so addictive. It is something when you taste it, you go, ‘wow, I want more of that’.”The hedonism of midweek at the Etihad Stadium, where Guardiola credited a raucous home crowd for being “close to us more than I ever saw before in my period here”, gives way to a Sunday visit from Rotherham United in the third round of the FA Cup.Last night will be remembered. Love to our fans who pushed us throughout. Together we can go above and beyond. #ManCity pic.twitter.com/9tdUYta1TK — Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) January 4, 2019 Then comes the first leg of an EFL Cup semi-final against Burton Albion as City continue to battle for trophies of four fronts.As much as he welcomes that challenge, Guardiola conceded there might be more enjoyable ways to spend the English winter.”I would like to have two months of holidays right now, definitely,” he added. “This month was really tough but it is what it is.”We want to become a top, top club. You cannot deny any game, you cannot drop any competition.”I don’t know how we are going to be. Maybe if we didn’t play in the Carabao Cup it would be easy for our recovery. For example, Liverpool are out [of the EFL Cup] and have more time to prepare the Premier League.”But I prefer to be in [City’s] position. We have enough of a squad – Kevin is coming back, Gundogan is coming back. Everybody is going to rotate and everybody is going to play. It is the only way.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
MIAMI — It’s official: Burger King will soon offer its Impossible Whopper plant-based burger nationwide.The chain said the soy-based burger, made by Impossible Foods, will be available for a limited time at its 7,000 U.S. stores starting next week.Limited-time offers are typical for new products in the fast food industry. Burger King says it will gauge customer reaction and consider expanding sales.Miami-based Burger King began testing the Impossible Whopper in April in St. Louis. It later expanded to six other markets.Burger King won’t say how many Impossible Whoppers it has sold, but says it drove new customers to its stores.Impossible Foods has been struggling to meet demand for the popular burger. This week it announced a manufacturing partnership with OSI Group, an Illinois food production company.The Associated Press