Pep Guardiola has warned Sir Jim Ratcliffe Manchester City will not be knocked off their perch easily.

The City boss has also pointed out to Manchester United’s newly-arrived major investor that reaching the top of the game – and staying there – will be a tough challenge.

Ratcliffe this week reprised the words of Sir Alex Ferguson when setting out his ambition for the Old Trafford club.

The billionaire Ineos owner, who has acquired a 27.7 per cent stake in United, said he wanted to knock both City and Liverpool, whom the Red Devils have fallen behind significantly in recent years, “off their perch”.

Ferguson famously spoke in similar terms in his early days as United manager in the late 1980s when Liverpool were the dominant force.

Guardiola said: “I’m pretty sure with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the other people that United are going to take a step forwards.

“But that is normal, it’s not just United. All the teams want it. We want to be there and, as long as I’m here, we will try to be there again.

“What I want is Man City, my team, being there. The rest, I don’t care. We want to be there.”

The on-field gulf between United and present-day City is wide, with Guardiola’s men having won 14 trophies in the past six years to their rivals’ one, capped by last season’s treble.

Guardiola says that success is down to a lot of hard work both on and off the field.

He said: “You don’t have success if all the elements of the club are not together, it’s impossible. It doesn’t belong to one player, one manager, one anything.

“All the details have to be on the same path, aligned, all of them, otherwise it’s more difficult.

“Still we are there after what happened over seven or eight years. Few clubs can do it and still we are there. The biggest contenders know how difficult it is.”

It is rare for anyone connected to United to speak of City, or Liverpool, in such positive terms as Ratcliffe – even if he did also refer to those clubs as “the enemy”.

Guardiola, whose side travel to Brighton in the Premier League this weekend, feels that acknowledgement is perhaps United’s first step on a journey back towards the top.

He said: “It’s the truth! As (soon) as the teams admit it, they will be closer to us. If they want to deny it for things that are not the reality then it’s their problem. It’s not our problem.

“When I’ve been below teams I’ve always admired them and thought about what we need to do to be close, to challenge them.

“When we were below and United were winning, we were watching them, admiring them. We wanted to learn from them. The period of Sir Alex Ferguson – the generation with Roy Keane, David Beckham, Gary Neville – and all those big, big players, Rio Ferdinand – I’m pretty sure City admired and thought, ‘We want to be there’.

“Now we are there. That’s why, for these type of comments, I have the feeling that they will be back.”

Pep Guardiola has bluntly responded to Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s aim to knock Manchester City “off their perch” by pointing out he speaks “the truth”.

Ratcliffe completed his purchase of a 27.7 per cent in Manchester United this week and immediately set out his ambitions to restore the club to the top of the English and European game.

He did this by reprising the language of Sir Alex Ferguson, who similarly pledged to rein in Liverpool in his early days as manager at Old Trafford.

United have won just one trophy compared to City’s 14 in the past six seasons and Guardiola feels Ratcliffe’s acceptance of the Blues’ current pre-eminent status is the Red Devils’ first step towards a fightback.

The City manager said: “It’s the truth! As (soon) as the teams admit it, they will be closer to us.

“If they want to deny it for things that are not the reality then it’s their problem. It’s not our problem.

“When I’ve been below teams I’ve always admired them and thought about what we need to do to be close, to challenge them.

“If they want to be judged on things they are comfortable with for one day they will not arrive where we are now.

“When we were below and United were winning, we were watching them, admiring them. We wanted to learn from them.

“The period of Sir Alex Ferguson – the generation with Roy Keane, David Beckham, Gary Neville – and all those big, big players, Rio Ferdinand – I’m pretty sure City admired and thought ‘we want to be there’. Now we are there.

“That’s why, for these type of comments, that I have the feeling that they will be back.”

While Guardiola now expects United to improve under the guidance of Ratcliffe, who has taken control of footballing operations at Old Trafford, he insisted it was not something that concerned him.

The Spaniard said: “It’s not about (being) worried. I’m pretty sure with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the other people that United are going to take a step forwards.

“I feel that they know exactly what they have to do, appoint the people they need to appoint with their experience in the business world to make projects better.

“But that is normal. It’s not just United. All the teams want it. We want to be there and as long as I’m here, we will try to be there again.

“What I want is Man City, my team, being there. The rest, I don’t care.”

Second-placed City travel to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday with a chance to cut the gap to leaders Liverpool to one point in what is their game in hand.

Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne was not risked in the midweek win over Brentford due to what Guardiola described as “niggles”.

He would not confirm if he would return this weekend but said he was “pretty sure he will travel”.

Guardiola said: “He’s good. He’s not injured. He’s better but I don’t know if he’s 100 per cent. I think we took a good decision not to take a risk.”

Oscar Bobb has described his Manchester City and Norway team-mate Erling Haaland as an inspiration.

Haaland got the only goal as City edged out Brentford 1-0 on Tuesday night in a match that saw emerging talent Bobb, 20, make his first Premier League start.

It was Haaland’s 17th goal of the season despite missing two months of the campaign with a foot injury, and took him to 53 in 55 league appearances since joining City in the summer of 2022. A goal against the Bees meant he has scored against all 21 Premier League opponents he has faced.

“What he’s achieved is crazy, right?” Bobb said. “He’s only three years older than me, same country, everything. Yes, he’s an inspiration.”

Asked if he was close with his illustrious team-mate, Bobb said: “Yes, I think it’s natural. We’re pretty close in age and from the same place. He helps me a lot.”

It was Haaland’s third goal in seven games since his return from injury and came after he was criticised for missing a string of opportunities in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

But Bobb said there had never been any concern within the City camp regarding their star striker, who last week was mourning the death of his grandmother.

“Everyone knows how good of a finisher he is,” Bobb said. “As long as he gets in those situations, whether he misses or scores, such a clinical finish, if he misses a few one game it’s not like he’s going to start missing all his chances.

“There’s no real worries. I mean, when you have the quality he has, it is just about getting to the right spots.”

Haaland capitalised on a slip from Kristoffer Ajer to finally find a way past Brentford goalkeeper Mark Flekken, breaching a defence that for 70 minutes had stood firm to the growing frustration of Pep Guardiola, his players, and the home fans inside the Etihad Stadium.

Bobb had one of City’s best chances in the first half when he collected a rebound, neatly created space for himself but then saw his shot blocked on the line by Ben Mee.

Though it was his first league start, this was Bobb’s 16th City appearance of the season. The winger, who joined City’s academy from Valerenga in 2019, has scored two goals, including a memorable late winner at Newcastle last month.

“It’s been a big step up but I think, playing in this team, it gets a lot easier because you are not always dominating but usually you see a lot of the ball,” he said.

“For me as a player I’m more of a ball-player than a runner and that helps. Being in this group and with these people helps me.”

Bobb is now hoping to play his part in the title chase as City look ahead to a March fixture list that includes a derby against United, a potentially pivotal trip to Anfield and a home match against Arsenal.

“In these situations – the manager says it a lot – you don’t really think too far ahead,” Bobb said. “It’s (a few) games before United even. So I don’t think that’s the biggest focus right now. It will be, of course, and that period will be good for the team.

“Two, three years ago we won by one point when (Ilkay Gundogan) scored (on the final day against Aston Villa). When you look at it like that, every point could be a title-deciding point.”

Wayne Rooney says he would walk to Manchester City if Pep Guardiola asked him to become his assistant.

Rooney became Manchester United’s record scorer during 13 years at Old Trafford from 2004, scoring 253 goals in 559 appearances for the Red Devils.

The former England captain was linked with a move to City after handing in a transfer request at United in 2010.

Rooney eventually patched up his differences with manager Sir Alex Ferguson and stayed at Old Trafford for another seven years.

But, less than two months after his 15-game spell as Birmingham manager came to an end, the 38-year-old admits he would be open to the idea of working on the blue side of Manchester.

“It depends (on whether I’d ever be an assistant) – if Pep Guardiola comes in and asks me to be his assistant, you’d walk there,” Rooney told the Stick to Football podcast.

“You see what (Mikel) Arteta is doing now (at Arsenal) and I strongly believe a lot of that is from learning what Guardiola was doing, and so it depends on what the situation is.

“For me, the best manager is Pep and you look at how he adapts – how they (City) are playing now is not the same as how they were playing four years ago.

“He keeps making these subtle changes and then you see everyone else trying to do the same. They also work harder than anyone else.”

City, the English, European and FIFA World Club Cup champions, are 12 points better off in the Premier League than sixth-placed United, and Rooney says it is “frustrating” watching his former team under Erik ten Hag.

He said: “There’s talent in there. But I just think there’s a mindset that needs to change.

“You watch some games and I think, ‘Really good’. But then all of a sudden it’s like a switch that’s been flicked.

“They can go from being really good to really bad. There’s a lack of consistency.”

Rooney has been linked to a possible switch to boxing, with the self-confessed fight fan confirming there have been talks to get him in the ring.

He also expressed an interest in becoming a lawyer during a recent media interview, saying he had applied to Nottingham University to study criminal law when he was at Derby.

Rooney laughed on the podcast when recalling telling lawyers what to ask during his wife Coleen’s ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel trial with Rebekah Vardy in 2022.

But Rooney insists his focus is firmly on returning to management after spells at Derby, Major League Soccer side DC United and Birmingham.

“It’s all experience – I’m only 38, I’ve had three managerial jobs but I’ve got quite a bit of experience to lean on,” said Rooney.

“If you look at the three clubs I’ve managed, going in at Derby under their circumstances in administration, DC United who were bottom of the league when I went over there, and now Birmingham, who over the past 10 years have been a mess.

“I want to focus on getting back into management. The main thing for me is to completely cut out what I’ve done as a player and almost start again as a manager.

“Of course, my playing experience will help me, but I’m right at the bottom from a managerial point of view, and I want to work my way up.

“I’m not relying on what I’ve done as a player to get me into places that I shouldn’t be.

“I want to get back into managing and I want to prove myself – whether that’s League Two, League One or Championship.”

Erling Haaland’s goal against Brentford means he has scored against every opponent he has faced in the Premier League.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the prolific Norway international’s Manchester City record.

Full house

Chelsea, Liverpool and Brentford were the only teams not to concede to Haaland in his astonishing debut season in England, when he won the Premier League Golden Boot with 36 goals in 33 games.

He ticked off Chelsea and Liverpool in successive league games either side of November’s international break and, having failed to score in this season’s first meeting with the Bees, has had to wait until Tuesday’s postponed return fixture to complete the set of 21 opponents he has faced.

He has yet to play against Luton, having missed December’s fixture while injured, so April’s game at the Etihad Stadium will bring the chance to add a 22nd name to his perfect record.

Tuesday night’s effort means Haaland now has 53 goals in 55 Premier League appearances.

Favourite opponents

Haaland’s best Premier League scoring record is against derby rivals Manchester United as well as Fulham, with five goals in three games against each.

He hit a hat-trick at home to United last season and a double at Old Trafford this term, while scoring in both of last season’s meetings with the Cottagers and adding a treble in September.

He has four goals against each of Crystal Palace, in two appearances, and Nottingham Forest, West Ham and Wolves in three apiece and Everton in four, with hat-tricks against all but the Hammers and Toffees.

He has three against both Brighton and Southampton while he has scored in every game against Fulham, Everton, West Ham (three games each), Palace, Saints (two), Leicester and Sheffield United (one).

Aston Villa, Brentford, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Tottenham, in three games each, Liverpool in two and the Blades in one have conceded only once to Haaland.

Record books

Harry Kane also scored against every Premier League opponent he faced, a total of 32 clubs, during his time with Tottenham – a brief loan at Norwich early in his career did not yield any of his eventual 213 goals in the competition.

Frank Lampard holds the record for scoring Premier League goals against the most clubs overall, with his 39 one more than Andy Cole, but neither player scored against every opponent they faced.

Third on that list with 37 opponents is the league’s record scorer Alan Shearer, whose 20 goals against Leeds is the most by one player against a single opponent.

Pep Guardiola admitted his side needed the killer instinct of Erling Haaland after they edged out Brentford 1-0 in a nervy encounter that left his side one point behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Haaland settled the contest in the 71st minute when he punished a slip from Kristoffer Ajer, running from the halfway line to slot the ball under the unfortunate Mark Flekken, who had another outstanding match against the reigning champions.

After a week in which Guardiola had to answer questions about the Norwegian star, whose misses proved costly in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Haaland made no mistake with one of the very few clear chances a well-organised Brentford side afforded City on the night.

“If I had to choose one (player), I choose this one,” Guardiola said of the moment.

It was Haaland’s third goal in seven games since returning from the foot injury that sidelined him for two months. Last week, he mourned the death of his grandmother Tone Rascal, mother of his father Alf-Inge, at the age of 80.

Asked if he had needed to speak to the striker, Guardiola said: “We spoke about the moment and I realised this later, but he didn’t say anything about the passing away of his grandmother. We talked about how he feels and of course for his father.

“In this type of game like Brentford, you need Erling. With not much space, you can play with a typical striker.”

City struggled to break down a determined Brentford side. Kevin De Bruyne was kept on the bench throughout the night, not even emerging to warm up with the game in the balance, and Guardiola revealed the Belgian playmaker had a hamstring issue, having already missed five months of the season.

“Today we could not use Kevin because he had niggles in his hamstring and I didn’t want to take risk,” he said, adding: “He’s okay. It’s just a precaution but he didn’t feel comfortable and so after five months off we didn’t take any risk.”

Brentford had defended doggedly before the goal, more than once having all 11 players inside their own box in open play. Bernardo Silva headed a glorious chance wide before Oscar Bobb created space only to shoot straight at Flekken, but otherwise there were few real opportunities.

Having taken six points off City last season, Brentford threatened to do damage to their title bid again this time before Haaland stepped in – he has now scored against all 21 opponents he has faced in the Premier League.

“I think throughout the game we were brilliant, I’m very proud and pleased with the players’ performance,” Bees manager Thomas Frank said. “They believed and it gives me a lot of belief in them going forwards.

“The way we defended the whole game was magnificent in terms of structure, defensive principles, urgency. Before the goal, we gave away the header to Bernardo Silva and the Oscar Bobb chance and it was two big chances. If you can limit City to two big chances, you have done a very good job.

“If (Ajer) doesn’t slip I’m convinced it would not be a goal. Haaland is quick but Kristoffer is as quick. City are good so they don’t need the margins going their way.”

Erling Haaland came to Manchester City’s rescue as the off-colour champions eked out a nervy 1-0 win over Brentford in the Premier League on Tuesday.

The prolific Norwegian, who spurned a host of chances in a frustrating draw with Chelsea at the weekend, returned to form as he broke the deadlock in a tight encounter at the Etihad Stadium after 71 minutes.

The win lifted City above Arsenal into second in the table, one point behind leaders Liverpool, having played the same number of games in what is shaping up to be a tight title race.

Pep Guardiola’s side dominated the first half, but the second period was proving a frustrating affair until Haaland broke clear of the Bees defence to slot home a fine finish.

Brentford were the last team to beat City at home in November 2022 and, having also tested them in a 3-1 loss earlier this month, again caused them problems.

City, with Kevin De Bruyne on the bench, started the brighter, with Haaland shooting at Mark Flekken after just three minutes and Phil Foden also forcing a save and having another effort blocked.

But Brentford, to their credit, were not content to sit back and did pose a threat on the counter-attack.

Yoane Wissa was denied a chance to shoot by a fine John Stones tackle and Frank Onyeka should have done better than firing straight at Ederson after being played through on goal.

Ivan Toney also shot narrowly over from a free-kick, but the hosts then laid siege to the Bees’ goal and it was remarkable the opening period ended scoreless.

Julian Alvarez twice missed the target before Bernardo Silva planted a header the wrong side of a post from close range.

Manuel Akanji had a good strike from distance tipped over by Flekken and Ruben Dias saw a header pushed away.

Oscar Bobb looked certain to score after skipping around Christian Norgaard, but Ben Mee stretched to clear off the line.

Brentford ended the first half with another chance as an Onyeka header was claimed at full stretch by Ederson and City were surprisingly slow to get going again after the break.

Guardiola tried to enliven proceedings by introducing Jeremy Doku on the hour, but the Bees responded by sending on the abrasive Neal Maupay, who clashed with Kyle Walker in the sides’ recent meeting.

After Foden blazed an attempt well over, it began to look like it might take something special to break the deadlock and that moment duly arrived 19 minutes from time.

Brentford were pushing forward, but their attack was broken up and the ball quickly moved forward, with Rodri finding Alvarez and the Argentinian releasing Haaland.

The Norwegian still had more than half the length of the field to run, but he was quickly into his stride and breezed past a stumbling Kristoffer Ajer before slotting past Flekken from the edge of the area.

The goal was greeted with much relief, but Brentford were not done and Toney shot narrowly over after Dias gave away possession.

City might have had more late on, with Haaland having a header disallowed for offside and Flekken twice saving from Foden.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has apologised to Kalvin Phillips for saying publicly that he had returned from the Qatar World Cup overweight.

Guardiola made the comment in a press conference in December 2022 having left the City and England midfielder out of a Carabao Cup tie against Liverpool.

Phillips, who joined West Ham on loan in January, earlier this month told the Observer that “after the World Cup was probably the toughest, when Pep came out and said I was overweight”, adding: “I did not disagree with him but obviously I took a big knock on my confidence and how I felt at City.”

Guardiola was asked at a press conference on Monday if he regretted going public about Phillips’ weight, and he said: “Yeah, I’m sorry.

“Once in eight years is not bad. But I’m so sorry. I apologise to him. I do apologise. I’m sorry.”

Phillips said there had been a misunderstanding as to when he was expected to report back and that rather than speaking to Guardiola about that, he “just took it on the chin”.

Guardiola emphasised that he had spoken to Phillips before making the public comment about his weight, saying: “I never, never before I said something here did not speak with the players in that case.”

The manager was talking ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League home clash with Brentford, who City came from behind to beat 3-1 at the Gtech Community Stadium on February 5.

That match saw City defender Kyle Walker respond angrily to something Neal Maupay, the forward on loan with the Bees from Everton, had said to him in the closing stages.

Guardiola said: “I don’t want it but sometimes there is emotions and it happens, and you know that. But this (incident) is forgotten. It happened, I think they talked and that’s all.”

Asked how he dealt with players verbally winding him up during his days on the pitch, the former Barcelona midfielder said: “It depended on my mood!

“Listen, in my period in Barcelona I am in the history for having the record of the most yellow cards conceded. All the time it was for talk, talk, talk.

“So it depends, sometimes I controlled (myself), sometimes (I was) being crazy. People say ‘ah, he cannot control’. As a football player I was the same.”

Tuesday’s fixture is a game in hand for third-placed City over leaders Liverpool and second-placed Arsenal, who the defending champions are four and two points behind respectively.

Guardiola’s treble-winners saw an 11-match winning run in all competitions come to an end with Saturday’s 1-1 league draw with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has stressed he is “more than satisfied” with what he is seeing from his team.

Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium, secured by Rodri’s late equaliser, brought an 11-match winning run in all competitions to an end for City.

The defending champions are third in the table, two points behind second-placed Arsenal and four behind leaders Liverpool ahead of playing their game in hand when hosting Brentford on Tuesday.

Guardiola – whose treble-winners are aiming for a fourth successive league title – told a press conference: “The last five, 10 minutes first half, (and) in the second half, we were in our best level.

“But I know the standards we have, that we create to be there, for what we have done in the past, and I understand completely the doubts for the people but what I am seeing, I’m more than satisfied.

“I’ll give credit to Chelsea, who created problems, not just because in some actions we were not good. But in general when you analyse the game, we were more than decent.

“But I know our standards, and you demand our standards, for what we have done in the past. I know it’s not easy to sustain it. For a long, long, long time we did it.

“We were 11 games winning, and the people say ‘they are not going to lose any other game’. So now, just for one draw…when for 55, 60 minutes, we were who we are.”

Guardiola added: “You demand to us all the time, the only team, because we achieve what we have achieved. We have to live with that. We know that. We know how difficult it is, we know it. It’s you that believes it’s easy, not us.”

And when then asked if people demanding perfection every game was the price of success, he said: “Absolutely – I had experience at my previous clubs, especially Barcelona.

“It’s an honour. Go for it. But no effect – we know what it is and we have to continue doing what we try. It’s normal.

“In the beginning was a lack of consistency, and I said it’s how we behave in many, many things in how we perform and I demand, I’m the first to demand myself, the team do it during in 95 minutes, knowing it’s impossible.

“The reality is since we lost against Aston Villa (on December 6) we didn’t lose one game (in 15), and in the (two) games we drew, we were better.

“Are we going to win the Premier League? I don’t know. But still we are there and this is why we continue.”

Guardiola – who confirmed Jack Grealish (groin) and Josko Gvardiol (ankle) will again be unavailable on Tuesday – was also asked what he thought of Kylian Mbappe as a player, following a report in Spain that one of the Paris St Germain star’s representatives had a meeting with City last week.

And he said with a smile: “I think he’s quite good – he has a future! He’s really, really good.”

What the papers say

Kylian Mbappe‘s entourage met with figures at Manchester City last week before the news broke of his impending exit from Paris St Germain this summer, according to Sky Sports.

Former Bayer Leverkusen manager Rudi Voller has pushed for coach Xabi Alonso to stay at the club, with Sky Sports reporting the Spanish coach is scoping out options at Liverpool and Bayern Munich.

Manchester United’s shake-up continues as they try to bring in Newcastle director Dan Ashworth, but the Daily Mail has revealed the Magpies will not allow him to join before 2026 unless they get significant compensation.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Marcus Rashford: The Sunday Times reports PSG are eyeing the Manchester United star as a potential replacement for Mbappe.

Kevin Long: The 33-year-old Irishman is on the verge of moving across the pond to join Major League Soccer club Toronto.

Jack Clarke: Southampton are looking to edge out other clubs with a £15million bid to lure the 23-year-old forward to the south coast, according to the Sun.

Pep Guardiola believes Rodri is “by far” the best midfielder in the world but is pleased his performances do not always grab the headlines.

The Spain international was title-chasing Manchester City’s saviour on Saturday as his late equaliser rescued what could prove a vital point in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

It is now over 12 months – against Tottenham on February 5 last year – since City lost a match in which the 27-year-old played.

Yet his Champions League final-winning goal or this weekend’s dramatic leveller aside, he rarely steals the limelight from the likes of Erling Haaland or Kevin De Bruyne.

Guardiola admits that is just the way he likes it.

The City manager said: “I would say if the holding midfielder doesn’t get the same appreciation as the strikers or the number 10 then that is good. When a holding midfielder has a lot of appreciation, it is not good.

“The holding midfielder has to play positive, for him and for the team, and make the team play. This is the role for the holding midfielders. All the highlights have to be for the guys up front who score goals and make assists and so on.

“But Rodri always has the ability in important moments to score goals so he’s an unbelievable player. He’s the best midfield player in the world currently by far because he is able to do everything.

“What a signing. It’s difficult to understand how we could have done what we have done in recent years without him.”

Saturday’s result extended City’s unbeaten run in the Premier League to nine games but the loss of two points left the champions third behind Liverpool and Arsenal, four points off the top.

They are back in action when they play their game in hand, a rearranged contest against Brentford, on Tuesday.

Defender Kyle Walker is relishing what is shaping up to be a three-way battle for the title.

The England right-back said: “I feel that we’re up against two very, very good teams in Liverpool and Arsenal.

“Liverpool have got the momentum, and obviously with the manager leaving maybe it’s a little bit of enthusiasm that they’ve got now, to let him go out on a high.

“But we want to do something that no-one’s ever been able to do and that’s win four in a row, so we’ve got our own motivation.

“Now it’s the best team wins at the end of a tough, tough 38 games come the end of the season but I’m sure we’ll be fighting on all fronts as we always are.”

Rodri wants Manchester City to move on quickly from the frustration of Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

The champions dropped two points in the Premier League title race after spurning a succession of opportunities in the second half of a compelling encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

It might even have been worse had Rodri not finally made a chance count by cancelling out Raheem Sterling’s first-half opener with a deflected strike in the 83rd minute.

The result ended City’s six-game winning league run and left them third in the table, four points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand, which they play on Tuesday against Brentford.

Midfielder Rodri said: “We could do better in some situations. We have to learn from the mistakes and try to move on. Sometimes a point is not bad.

“We are frustrated we didn’t win but after a few hours that is it. We move on.

“We keep fighting but we have to perform well in the next game against Brentford.

“It is one of the most important games because we can be there again at the top of the table with Liverpool, with one point (difference). This has to be the mentality.”

Chelsea were also guilty of wasting chances during a first half in which City proved vulnerable to the counter-attack.

Sterling eventually made them pay with a well-taken goal against his former club two minutes before the break.

City dominated the second period but could not find a way through until Rodri drove home after a Kyle Walker shot rebounded into his path.

Erling Haaland proved particularly profligate, even missing a free header from six yards, but Rodri was quick to defend the normally clinical Norwegian.

He said: “You have to be precise and effective and we weren’t, to be honest. We weren’t ourselves.

“But that is normal. It is not always (perfect).

“Erling always helps us with his goals but he had three chances and it couldn’t be possible. We’ll just support him and we know he is going to give us everything for the next ones.”

Chelsea have been inconsistent throughout the season but their confident performance offered plenty of reason for optimism heading into next week’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool.

Goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic told chelseafc.com: “We didn’t realise our chances and we didn’t kill the game, maybe to make a two-goal lead and have a better chance.

“So we are a little disappointed but also happy because we showed to everyone we can play against a top team.

“It is a big motivation to everyone. We showed we can play and we will show that against Liverpool.”

Pep Guardiola refused to blame Erling Haaland for wasting chances after Manchester City were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Chelsea on Saturday.

The normally prolific Haaland spurned a number of opportunities, including one glaring free header from six yards out, as the champions were held in a compelling Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium.

City ultimately needed an 83rd-minute equaliser from Rodri to rescue a point after their former forward Raheem Sterling had put the Londoners on course for an unexpected win with a 43rd-minute effort.

City manager Guardiola said: “It’s good to have nine shots and next time he’s going to score.

“I was a football player for 11 years and scored 11 goals. What stats! One goal a season. I’m not a proper man to give advice to strikers.

“We create the chances; he had the chances and next time he’s going to score. I don’t blame him. It’s football, it’s human beings.”

Haaland looked frustrated at the end of the game and pushed away a TV camera, but it has been a difficult week for the Norway international after the death of his grandmother.

The result left City four points off the top of the table in third place, after title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal won earlier in the day.

City dominated the second half, but Guardiola felt they paid the price for a poor first-half display.

Guardiola said: “As a team and a group, the first half was not like we are.

“The demands are so high because no-one is going to give it to us, we have to do everything. We are Man City, so we have to do it for ourselves all the time.

“We had to improve the first half and the second half was unbelievable, how we played and how we made transitions.

“In general, it was really good after we conceded from Raheem but when we play teams with composure and prestige of Chelsea you have to perform at your best for 95 minutes.”

Chelsea’s season has been one of inconsistency, but manager Mauricio Pochettino felt they showed their true character against strong opposition.

Pochettino said: “We tried to prepare, all the coaching staff, to make the plan for the game but football is always a game that belongs to the players and today the execution and the performance was from them. They showed character.

“It was a really important game for us to keep the momentum to realise we are in a good way and improving.

“Still we are not at the level of Man City but that is our aim.

“We need to live this type of game to improve and to create the spirit we need. We show in every single game we want to be competitive.”

Rodri struck a late equaliser as champions Manchester City were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in a compelling Premier League clash with Chelsea.

Raheem Sterling stunned his former club when he fired the visitors into the lead just before half-time in a fiercely-contested encounter at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening.

Yet City, needing to respond to the victories of title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal earlier the day, fought back and created a succession of chances before Rodri finally found the net after 83 minutes.

His powerful effort was greeted with much relief around the stadium including, presumably, by team-mate Erling Haaland after a glaring miss.

There was still time for further drama with a stoppage-time penalty check for handball against Levi Colwill but nothing was given.

Despite City’s rescue act, the result nevertheless ended their 11-game winning run in all competitions and left Pep Guardiola’s side third in the table, four points off the top.

Despite heavy rain, City started brightly with Julian Alvarez twice threatening but Chelsea also looked dangerous and Conor Gallagher opened up the home defence before misplacing his pass.

Haaland headed hit first chance of the night wide before Sterling let City off the hook when he shot tamely at Ederson after beating Manuel Akanji.

Chelsea went close again when Gallagher picked out another ex-City man in Cole Palmer in the box but Nathan Ake denied him with a fine challenge.

The visitors squandered a better chance when Malo Gusto raced onto a Palmer ball and sent Nicolas Jackson through on goal but a poor touch allowed Ederson to claim at his feet.

It seemed Chelsea might have been made to pay for those misses as Jeremy Doku created an opportunity but he fired straight at Djordje Petrovic.

The Londoners finally made a chance count three minutes before the interval as Palmer released Jackson with a simple ball and he picked out Sterling in front of goal.

The former City forward still had much to do as Kyle Walker closed in but he wrong-footed the full-back with a cut-back and then curled confidently past Ederson.

His celebration was muted but he had done enough to prod City into life and Haaland should have scored as Chelsea struggled to clear a corner but headed over.

The hosts began the second period strongly as Kevin De Bruyne shot narrowly over from a free-kick and Haaland volleyed wide following a quick counter-attack.

Walker also wanted a penalty after tangling with Sterling but referee Andrew Madley awarded a foul in the opposite direction.

Chelsea seemed certain to double their lead when Gusto swept in a superb ball for Sterling to meet with a powerful first-time shot but Ederson saved brilliantly with his foot at point-blank range.

City stepped up the pressure with Foden and Haaland both having shots blocked before Rodri blasted over.

Haaland forced a good save from Petrovic and then wasted a glorious chance when he headed over from six yards from a pinpoint De Bruyne cross.

Chelsea’s resistance was eventually broken seven minutes from time when a Walker shot rebounded into the path of Rodri and the Champions League final match-winner thundered in an equaliser with the aid of a deflection.

The closing stages were frantic but Chelsea held on despite a nervy moment when VAR checked for handball against Colwill.

Pep Guardiola accepts the responsibility for Manchester City’s failure to keep Cole Palmer.

The champions sold Palmer, one of their highly-rated academy prospects, to Chelsea last summer.

The 21-year-old, a member of City’s treble-winning squad last season, has shone since the switch and been the London club’s standout player this term.

Guardiola admits he did not give the youngster, who faces City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, the minutes he wanted and understands his reasons for moving.

The City manager said: “For young players, we always want them to stay but this is normal. After two or three seasons he wanted more minutes than he had the last season. I understand completely.

“If Palmer had the minutes I gave to Phil (Foden) from the beginning, Cole Palmer would be here – but I didn’t give them to him. That is my responsibility.

“Why? Because of Bernardo (Silva), Riyad (Mahrez), Phil. In that moment, I chose the other ones.

“After one season it is nice, and the second season, but the third season it is, ‘Oh guys, I want to play, I don’t want to sit on the bench’.

“It’s normal. We understand as a club. We got an offer from an incredible top club like Chelsea and I’m really happy for him. In all clubs these types of things happen.”

Palmer scored Chelsea’s late equaliser against City from the penalty spot when the sides met at Stamford Bridge in November.

He is Chelsea’s leading scorer this season with 12 goals in all competitions and their top assist-maker with nine.

Guardiola said: “We knew the quality he has and the impact he has shown this season is enormous.

“It is not just goals and assists, it is the quality. He is an incredible threat for Chelsea.”

While Palmer may be excelling elsewhere, City have hardly missed him as they have moved into a strong position to retain all three of the major trophies they won last season.

Their consistency and dominance in games led pundits including Gary Neville, the former Manchester United defender, to debate recently whether City are actually a boring team to watch.

Guardiola is pleased his side have reached a level where this is being discussed.

“Thank you for the compliment,” he said. “What can I say? It’s fine.

“Everything is so difficult in football. You have to do so many things to try to win games and what these players have done for many years, and this season as well, is admirable.

“Hats off to my players. It’s just unbelievable the way that my players are consistent and take seriously our opponents.”

Guardiola does not feel such debates suggest he or his team do not get due credit for their achievements.

He said: “Of course we have credit. We are admired, I am pretty sure of that.

“People in the world of football know how difficult it is, being there for six or seven years in all competitions.

“In the future you will not forget. It looks easy, but it’s not.”

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