English Premiership

Sharpshooter Aguero trains sights on Newcastle

Sergio Aguero (Getty Images)
Sergio Aguero (Getty Images)

Manchester - Sergio Aguero is entering the autumn of his glorious career with Manchester City but the record books suggest there will be no let-up in his prodigious goal-scoring when Pep Guardiola's Premier League champions host Newcastle.

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The 30-year-old Argentine has scored five goals in four games for City this season, including two in the Community Shield win over Chelsea and a hat-trick in his side's last home game, a 6-1 stroll over Huddersfield.

That marked his 13th hat-trick for the club he joined in what now appears a bargain £38 million transfer from Atletico Madrid in July 2011 and his ninth in the Premier League, a tally bettered only by Alan Shearer's 11.

His ecstatic manager said the forward was hitting new heights after his hat-trick.

"I never saw him like this since I was here - he is in an incredible condition with the ball and without the ball," Guardiola said.

City's record goalscorer is entering the final two seasons of his contract at the Etihad, at the end of which he has stated he will return to his boyhood club Independiente in Argentina, where he is expected to see out his career.

But it appears likely that more records will fall Aguero's way, possibly as early as Saturday, given his liking for playing Newcastle.

Aguero goal glut

In 11 previous Premier League games against the northeast club, Aguero has scored an astonishing 14 goals, including a five-goal display against them in a 6-1 victory in the 2015/16 season and a hat-trick in a 3-1 win in January.

The five-goal performance was, many Aguero observers believe, one of the most outrageous performances of even his prolific career as he scored five times in 20 minutes either side of half-time against the hapless Newcastle defence.

Guardiola has so far started Aguero in every game although he partnered him with young Brazilian Gabriel Jesus in a two-man forward line for the visit of Huddersfield, something he may elect to do again against Rafael Benitez's struggling side.

And the fact that Aguero appears to have seen off Jesus in the competition for a guaranteed starting place - or as close to "guaranteed" as is possible among City's star-studded squad - is just another notable feat.

Guardiola's arrival, and the signing of Jesus, were widely interpreted as signs that Aguero's days as City's main striker might be numbered.

When City were beaten 4-0 at Barcelona in the Champions League in October 2016, for example, Guardiola even selected little-used winger Nolito in preference to Aguero and Jesus's productive start to his Premier League career three months later did not augur well.

Earlier this year, Aguero admitted that it had taken him time to embrace Guardiola's demand for all his players, even the forwards, to concentrate on defensive work rate above all else.

"Besides my responsibilities as a striker, he wanted to get me involved as the first defender on the team," the Argentine said in an interview in his homeland.

He has clearly responded to those demands and remains as dangerous as ever.

After dropping their first points of the season in the 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton last weekend, Guardiola may shuffle his squad.

Kevin De Bruyne remains a long-term injury absentee, with a knee ligament problem, and club record signing Riyad Mahrez may be pressing for just his second start of the season.

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