EPL

Guardiola confident Manchester City will soon get back to their best

By Sports Desk October 25, 2020

Pep Guardiola can "completely understand" why his Manchester City players have yet to hit full stride this season and is confident they will soon get back to their best.

City drew 1-1 with West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday to leave them with eight points from five Premier League games – their lowest total at this stage since 2014-15.

Guardiola's men have failed to score more than once in their last three league matches and are in the bottom half of the table, five points behind top-two sides Everton and Liverpool.

However, the Catalan coach is unconcerned about a lack of goals, pointing to the injury absences of Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero at various points as a key reason why.

"We have created enough chances but have two strikers injured and Raheem [Sterling] is playing in a position that makes him fight a lot," Guardiola said. 

"Raheem is incredible and is doing this every day in a position that isn't his but we have no alternative. 

"We are trying to adapt to the situation but even still we are creating chances. It's just the last decision that needs to be more clear but that is down to a lack of preparation.

"It is about no time to recover and players arriving tired - I completely understand. That's why you have to be patient and keep going. Sooner or later we will get back to our best."

Having only recently returned from a knee injury, Aguero was replaced at half-time against West Ham with a hamstring strain and joins fellow striker Jesus on the sidelines.

Fernandinho suffered an injury in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Porto while Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake are also nursing niggles.

Guardiola reiterated his concern over City's hectic fixture list, which sees them play two more away games over the next week.

"It is too much. We demand of the players something they cannot give," he said. "We stopped last season, they came back for two weeks and we went again. 

"I try to demand everything from them but there is a limit. To compete for one or two competitions is fine, we can survive it. 

"But every three days, and with international breaks playing three games, playing all these [club] competitions... we didn't have enough preparation to do it."

City managed just one shot on target in the opening 45 minutes against West Ham but improved in the second half and earned a point through Phil Foden, who replaced Aguero.

Guardiola felt his side did enough to win the game in the end, having tested Lukasz Fabianski a further five times after the interval.

"The players made an incredible effort again," he said. "Many things were good and we created chances to win the game but couldn't do it. 

"But they tried and left absolutely everything on the pitch.

"Since day one when I arrived here it has been like this. Most of the time teams defend very deep. You have to create a process to do it, the right pass, the right movement.

"We created enough chances in the second half to win the game. We are still in the process of finding our best moment."

Related items

  • Pique wants Messi at Barcelona for years to come Pique wants Messi at Barcelona for years to come

    Gerard Pique hopes Barcelona can convince Lionel Messi to stay at the club for years to come.

    Messi, 33, sensationally requested to leave the LaLiga giants during the close season, but ended up staying at the club.

    However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is linked with the likes of Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

    But Pique hopes Messi will remain at Barca, where he has spent his entire professional career.

    "We will have to ask Leo. It is his personal decision … and we will see what happens," the defender told Radio Marca on Friday.

    "I believe that as long as he continues to wear the Barca shirt there is always hope.

    "We hope they can seduce him so that he stays more years."

    Messi has struggled to live up to his usual form so far this season, scoring six goals in 11 games – including three in eight in LaLiga.

    He is without an assist in LaLiga, while he has created just 2.1 chances per 90 minutes – his lowest since 2012-13 (1.6). His 0.4 big chances created per 90 minutes is also the lowest since that campaign.

    It comes with Barcelona struggling in 13th in the table and awaiting a presidential election next year.

    Pique, who suffered a knee injury earlier this month, said he had previously thought about one day becoming the club's president.

    "If I see that I can contribute things that can help the club then I will decide," he said.

    "It is an illusion that I have always had, but I don't know if it will come true."

  • Klopp hopeful over Wijnaldum stay at Liverpool Klopp hopeful over Wijnaldum stay at Liverpool

    Jurgen Klopp hopes Georginio Wijnaldum extends his stay at Liverpool and the manager remains optimistic.

    Wijnaldum is out of contract with the Premier League champions at the end of the season and the midfielder has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

    Ahead of Saturday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, Klopp had no update on the Netherlands international – but he would like the 30-year-old to remain at Anfield.

    "I cannot really say a lot about that. I would be happy if he would stay here – that's maybe the only thing," he said.

    "But sitting here, I'm pretty happy with Gini. You see when you look at most of the line-ups."

    Wijnaldum arrived at Liverpool from Newcastle United in 2016 and has helped the club win the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

    Since 2016-17, Wijnaldum has missed just 11 Premier League games for Liverpool. They have won five, drawn four and lost two, a win percentage of 45.5, compared to 70.7 in the 150 games he has played.

    They have also averaged more goals for (2.2 to 1.8), fewer goals against (0.9 to 1.3), more points per game (2.3 to 1.7) with Wijnaldum during that time.

    Asked if Wijnaldum was in his best form since joining Liverpool, Klopp praised the midfielder's consistency.

    "That might be only because your memories are not that good. He played always good. That's why he played that amount of games," he said.

    "I cannot remember a lot of bad games, to be honest. He played for us in plenty of positions, different positions. He's in a good moment, thank God. Long may it continue. That's it.

    "It's good and there's nothing else to say about it, to be honest. As long as nothing is decided, everything is possible and I'm positive."

    Liverpool are second in the Premier League table ahead of their trip to Brighton.

  • Flick wants more from Sane at Bayern Flick wants more from Sane at Bayern

    Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick wants to see more from Leroy Sane, but said the attacker needed time.

    Since joining Bayern from Manchester City for a reported €45million earlier this year, Sane has scored five goals and provided two assists in nine games.

    The attacker missed almost the entire 2019-20 season with City after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

    While Flick is eager for Sane to improve, he is also prepared to be patient with the 24-year-old following his injury.

    "He is 100 per cent fit. His efficiency is great," he told a news conference.

    "But like other players, he unnecessarily lost the ball a couple of times against Salzburg and in some instances, he didn't quite pursue one-on-ones. There are reasons for it, and we talked about that. He will try to do better next time.

    "When he comes on the pitch, he creates a certain dynamic in the team, increases it. In the last couple of games, he has always scored after being subbed in. That's what makes him stand out and he has quality.

    "It is obvious that he still needs time after a long injury, and he will get that time. He works hard in training.

    "We are pleased with him, but it is important that when he starts a game, he gives a 100 per cent. We are working on that."

    In six Bundesliga games, three of which have been starts, this season, Sane has scored three goals and provided two assists.

    He has also created four big chances. Only Thomas Muller (six), Serge Gnabry, Admir Mehmedi and Raphael Guerreiro (all five) have created more.

    However, his big chance conversion percentage is 50 per cent, while he has completed just seven of 20 attempted dribbles.

    Top of the Bundesliga by a point, Bayern visit Stuttgart on Saturday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.