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Pep Guardiola consoles Bristol City boss after Aguero's late winner Featured

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Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 09:58

Bristol City suffered stoppage-time heartbreak in their League Cup semi-final at Manchester City on Tuesday but played better than most Premier League teams that visit the Etihad Stadium, according the home side's manager Pep Guardiola.

The second-tier visitors had taken the lead with a penalty before the break in the first leg clash and then held on for dear life after Kevin De Bruyne levelled for the hosts.
Yet Sergio Aguero's last-gasp goal gave City a 2-1 advantage heading into the return game in two weeks' time.

The late strike was a gut-wrenching blow for visiting manager Lee Johnson, whose team had already dumped four top flight sides out of the competition, but his opposite number in the dugout had words of consolation at full time.

"Pep Guardiola said to me that we played better than most of the Premier League teams that come to Man City," Johnson told Sky Sports.

"We'll take an awful lot from it and learn a lot. It is not over. It will be an interesting game at Ashton Gate.

"The away goal was very important. We tried to score and certainly didn't park the bus. The lads have to go home and think we can kick on form this performance."
Manchester City, who are unbeaten and 15 points clear in the Premier League, fell behind when defender John Stones dived into a rash challenge on Bobby Reid, who dispatched the penalty.

The visitors' lead lasted until the 55th minute but after De Bruyne's leveller it was one-way traffic as they defended bravely in the face of a City onslaught.

"My players were fantastic because in football you can win, you can lose, but we try until the end," Guardiola said. "We win many games in the last minutes because we don't give up. A semi-final is always complicated.

"I said congratulations to Lee Johnson on full time. They are a fantastic team for many reasons. They can play, they are fast, they know exactly what to do. It will be tough in Bristol."

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    Manchester City kept alive their chances of winning four trophies this season, coming back from a goal down to beat Burnley 4-1 in the FA Cup third round on Saturday with two goals from Sergio Aguero.

    The runaway Premier League leaders, who are also in the last-16 of the Champions League and semi-finals of the English League Cup, fielded a strong side but struggled initially to impose their will on Sean Dyche's side.
    The runaway Premier League leaders, who are also in the last 16 of the Champions League and the English League Cup semi-finals, fielded a strong side but struggled initially to impose their will on Sean Dyche's side.

    They ran away with the game in the second half, however, showing the attacking flair that makes talk of a quadruple more than mere speculation.

    Burnley, seventh in the Premier League, grabbed a 25th- minute lead when City defender John Stones mis-kicked a Sam Vokes knockdown and Ashley Barnes and the striker burst goalwards before blasting the ball past Claudio Bravo.

    Disciplined defending from the Clarets frustrated City who were able to create little in the first half but a lapse in concentration 11 minutes after the break allowed Pep Guardiola's side back into the game.
    Ilkay Gundogan took a quick free kick to Aguero, catching the Burnley defence off-guard and the Argentine gleefully fired past Nick Pope.

    Two minutes later and the same combination put City ahead when Aguero played a neat one-two with the German, collecting his clever back-heel and rounding Pope before slotting into the empty net.

    "Both of Sergio Aguero's goals were amazing, there were clever and quick and I am happy with both of his goals," Guardiola told reporters.

    "It's an honour for me to have Aguero under my command. The quality he has is amazing and we need him to score a lot of goals. Aguero is the kind of player that in a matter of seconds can score two goals. He is an essential player for us," added the Spaniard.
    The gulf in quality became increasingly evident and Leroy Sane made it 3-1 in the 71st minute, collecting a David Silva through ball, evading Ben Mee and driving into the bottom corner.

    Guardiola brought on Kevin De Bruyne and he created the fourth goal with a sweeping pass out wide towards Sane which prompted Pope to race out of his area. Fatally, the Burnley keeper hestitated, allowing Sane to waltz past him and set up Bernardo Silva for a simple finish.

    "It is about that constant concentration and focus," said Dyche, reflecting on the two goals in two minutes and what his team need to learn.

    "You can't let teams score again so quickly, it's about sticking in there and keeping that focus".

  • Pep Guardiola: Captain Vincent Kompany will be ready for Manchester City's trip to Palace

    Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is expected to be available for Sunday's Premier League trip to Crystal Palace after manager Pep Guardiola said the injury suffered by the defender against Newcastle United was only a minor knock.

    Kompany, who has suffered a series of injury setbacks over the last two years, was substituted after 10 minutes at St James' Park before City went on to win 1-0 to extend their lead to 15 points at the top of league table.
    "Vincent is not as bad as we thought," said Guardiola. "He will be ready for the next fixtures. We will know exactly tomorrow, but it is not a big issue."

    Guardiola also added that Fabian Delph could be fit for Palace but defender John Stones, who is out of action with a hamstring injury, is not yet ready to play a full 90 minutes.
    "Fabian was not fit for Newcastle, but he is much better now. We will see. Fabian is a similar case to Vincent - he knows his body," the manager said.

    "John Stones is also much better. I think he will be fit for the next game [Watford] which is huge news for us."

    City have won a record 18 consecutive league games, with midfielder Kevin de Bruyne and winger Raheem Sterling attracting particular praise for their performances. However, Guardiola highlighted defender Nicolas Otamendi's contributions as the key reason for their recent success.
    "Everybody has spoken about a lot of players like Raheem, Kevin, Sergio [Aguero], they deserve it, but if I can point some attention to a player who deserves the respect is Nico.

    "He has been amazing - he is one of the hugest competitors I have ever seen in my life. I cannot imagine the situation we are in at the moment in terms of the table without him. It would have been impossible."

  • Kevin De Bruyne performance leaves Pep Guardiola speechless

    Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he had no words to describe the performance of midfielder Kevin De Bruyne after the Belgian inspired them to a 4-1 crushing of Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

    De Bruyne was at the heart of City's record-extending 16th straight league win, scoring their second with a blistering strike.
    Beyond that he was a constant threat to Tottenham every time he had the ball, torturing Spurs with both his sweeping passes and his direct running at their defence.

    He was brought down for the second-half penalty that was struck against the post by Gabriel Jesus and it was the Belgian's burst forward that led to City's third goal, which put the outcome beyond doubt.

    "His performance today, I have no words, no words to describe what he has done with the ball, how many assists, his (ability to) switch play," said the Spanish manager.

    When Guardiola did find a way to describe the Belgian's impact, it was to emphasise some of the midfielder's work that might not be picked up in television highlights packages.

    "The fact that he is one of the most talented players and you see him, how he runs without the ball, he is a good example for the young players, for our academy...

    "They know how good Kevin De Bruyne is and they can see how he runs and fights without the ball and that is the best example. He helps us to be a better club, a better institution for the future, that is what we want to do," said Guardiola.

    "All the time he watches the game in his head and then without the ball, he is able to make the pressure from 40 metres (out) to the goalkeeper. When that happens, the people behind him see it and say ‘if that guy runs like this, I have to run as well’."

    Amid talk of City perhaps going the whole season unbeaten, De Bruyne said they were focused purely on their main goal of winning the title.

    "No, absolutely not. We are here to win titles, we had a great start, it's still more than half (of the season remaining) so it's very difficult, very hard. We want to win each game, we're doing a good job," he said.

    "We know the quality of the team is high, we know this mentally, we want to win every game, we're very busy and mentally we want to keep going. It was a great performance."

  • Pep Guardiola: Manchester City are confident but not complacent

    Pep Guardiola has spoken of his confidence after another record-breaking triumph by Manchester City on Wednesday, but denied that complacency could derail his team's title hopes.

    Fresh from overseeing an outright record for successive Premier League victories -- 15 and counting this season -- with another 4-0 master-class at Swansea City, Guardiola sounded almost affronted at the idea the leaders might lose their focus.
    "That is not going to happen," the Spaniard told the BBC, when asked if a slacking off might materialise with City now 11 points clear and their nearest chasers all seemingly becoming more resigned to it being a hopeless pursuit.

    "We are so demanding for our players. We can lose, we can drop points but complacency never happened in the past, the present or the future. Winning 15 games in a row gives us a lot of confidence," Guardiola said.
    Having broken the single-season record with a 14th consecutive win in the Manchester derby at United on Sunday, win number 15 beat the top-flight landmark in the Premier League era set by Arsene Wenger's Arsenal, spanning two seasons in 2002.

    Yet what has evidently delighted the Spaniard more than anything has been the way City seemed to have carved out their triumphs in the same kaleidoscopic manner he fashioned previously at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

    "If people are happy watching us, that is the best gift," he said, making it sound like an early Christmas present for English soccer fans.

    Among the delights he has served up, perhaps nothing has been finer than the way Guardiola has brought David Silva, his marvellous Spanish midfield conductor, into full bloom.
    With his double against Swansea, Silva has now been involved in 13 Premier League goals in 17 matches this season -- five goals and eight assists -- which is already more than he managed in the whole of 2016-17.

    Guardiola was left delighted that, at 31, his orchestrator was now apparently also becoming more of a predator.

    "I'm so happy for David," he enthused. "We cannot disguise his quality but in the past he didn't score too much goals. He's sharp, he's in an amazing condition."
    It may have been a pleasure for the neutral but for Swansea boss Paul Clement, who also had to see goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero ensure his side remain rooted to the foot of the table, it was "horrible" to behold.

    "For me, [City] are one of the best sides I've ever come across," said Clement, who has been assistant manager at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

    "So many good athletes, so many intelligent footballers and it's really hard to pin them down."

    So hard indeed that only Everton, in the Premier League, this season have managed to take a point from them and it is increasingly looking the tallest of orders for any other side to follow suit.

  • FA seeks Pep Guardiola's observations after Nathan Redmond exchange

    Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has been asked for his observations by the Football Association following his animated discussion with Southampton midfielder Nathan Redmond after Wednesday's Premier League game.

    Guardiola walked on to the pitch following his team's 2-1 win over Southampton and gestured wildly during an exchange with Redmond before playing down the incident in his post-match news conference saying he was merely praising the 23-year-old.
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    "He commented on my qualities as a young English player and how he wanted me to attack his team more during the game in a similar way to last season," Redmond tweeted.
    "I told him I was doing what my manager had asked me to do in the game. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

    "Nothing negative or offensive was said towards me from Pep and that's what makes him one of the best managers in world football."

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