Guardiola relishes City's steely show | The Daily Star
05:59 PM, November 27, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:11 PM, November 27, 2017

Guardiola relishes City's steely show

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City's 2-1 win at Huddersfield gave him more satisfaction than other more high-profile victories because of the way they fought back in adversity.

City secured an 11th successive league win, equalling a club record, and an 18th straight victory in all competitions after coming from a goal down at the John Smith's Stadium on Sunday.

Nicolas Otamendi's own goal gave Huddersfield a half-time lead, but Sergio Aguero equalised with a penalty before Raheem Sterling's lucky finish, for his 12th goal of the season, won the match in the closing minutes.

City are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League and have enjoyed some big victories this season, notably beating Stoke 7-2, Watford 6-0 and both Liverpool and Crystal Palace 5-0.

Guardiola, though, ranked the win at Huddersfield above all of those when asked, arguing that the test they faced in west Yorkshire will benefit them much more than bigger victories have done.

"Definitely. They were the same words I said in the locker room after the game. We need to win those kinds of games in that way. That is so important," he said.

"When you win well, people are happier and say nice words, but that is not reality at the high level of the sport.

"In a high level when you have one week's rest and have time to prepare, you can score goals. But normally, that can't happen a lot of times.

"I cannot remember one team, not (Manchester) United with Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsenal with Arsene Wenger, who won all the leagues with 4-0 and 5-0 wins all the time. It is impossible.

"You have to suffer and in the last month we didn't feel that.

"It's so important to live that situation and be able to win the game. We make an outstanding performance in all sense."

Sterling has now beaten his previous record for goals in a season - having never managed more than 11 in a campaign before.

- Room for improvement -

Guardiola is delighted that the winger, who also won the penalty from which Aguero scored, is proving so prolific, but still believes there is more room for improvement.

"He is young, he can still improve but now he is a winning player, he is winning games," he said.

"Before he made good actions but now he wins games. We are in November and already he has made a record.

"He has improved, but not just in terms of goals. He is strong. Before, he lost a lot of balls.

"He keeps it much better now. When he is one on one, he provokes fouls. I think the penalty is more than clear.

"I am impressed but still he is 22 years old. He can still improve. He can learn and we will be there to help him."

Huddersfield boss David Wagner was proud of the way his team, promoted from the Championship via the play-offs in May, acquitted themselves against opponents widely expected to win the Premier League this season.

"Where should I start? I am disappointed because of the result. But I am happy because of the defensive performance, the attitude, the desire, the passion, the emotion the players have shown," he sadi.

"At the end, I think it makes total sense to take the positives out of this game.

"We defended well against the best team in the Premier League."

Wagner declined to comment on the red card shown to winger Rajiv van La Parra at full-time for pushing Leroy Sane in the face, saying that he had not seen a replay of the incident on television.

However, he had no complaints about the penalty awarded against his team for Scott Malone's foul on Sterling.

"No," he said. "I think it was holding."


City go for the kill, United aim to keep in touch

Manchester City will bid to hammer home their advantage at the top of the Premier League against Southampton, while Manchester United head to Watford hoping to cling onto the leaders' coat-tails in a crucial midweek programme.

City have now won their last 11 Premier League matches and 18 in all competitions.

United can again move to within five points of their hated neighbours if they win at Watford on Tuesday, before City return to action at home to Southampton 24 hours later.

Guardiola admits City's scintillating run will end eventually, but he believes the way his team saw off fired-up Huddersfield should serve as a warning to their rivals that they are fully focused on the title.

"If you want to win the title you can not expect easy games, so we have to live these kinds of situations and we spoke about at half-time how we are going to react in that situation," he said.

"We are going to lose. That is going to happen - definitely. Today was so close - it's going to happen.

"When you play every few days, when you see the scheduling - December, January - we go to Donetsk to play in the Champions League. It's impossible.

"The 18 games in a row is amazing and we have 11 in the Premier League in a row so that's good. We have a good moment and with the spirit we can go further.

"I am pleased because I know our fans are so happy because they see their players fighting until the end."

- Show of strength -

United have no margin for error at Vicarage Road, where Watford will aim for a repeat of last season's shock 3-1 win over Mourinho's team.

While Watford impressed in a 3-0 win at Newcastle on Saturday, United laboured to see off Brighton at Old Trafford until Lewis Dunk's own goal from an Ashley Young effort sealed their second successive league win.

United defender Victor Lindelof hopes his side can continue to grind out the wins while they search for their peak form.

"We tried to do our best out there, we tried to play our game but it didn't work out so good," he said.

"We got the three points and that is the most important thing. We didn't play our best game but we got the win and that shows strength."

Champions Chelsea are lagging 11 points behind City in third place and must beat lowly Swansea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday to have any chance of catching the leaders.

Key to their title defence is Eden Hazard's ability to maintain the fine form he showed in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Liverpool.

Afer an injury-hit start to the season, the Belgian excelled against Liverpool in the number 10 role behind Alvaro Morata.

"The start of this season was full of trouble with Eden because he had an injury with the national team and we started the season without him," Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said.

"Now I think Eden is in really good form and I think he likes to play as a striker. There is a good link with Alvaro."


Fixtures (1945 GMT unless stated)


Brighton v Crystal Palace, Leicester v Tottenham, Watford v Manchester United (2000 GMT), West Brom v Newcastle (2000 GMT)


Arsenal v Huddersfield, Bournemouth v Burnley, Chelsea v Swansea, Everton v West Ham (2000 GMT), Manchester City v Southampton (2000 GMT), Stoke v Liverpool (2000 GMT)

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