Guardi­ola pins hopes on Chelsea wob­ble

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Manch­ester City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola said his side will be ready to pounce if Premier League lead­ers Chelsea fal­ter following their im­pres­sive 2-1 come­back vic­tory over ti­tle ri­vals Arse­nal.

Chelsea have streaked clear at the sum­mit thanks to a storm­ing run of 11 con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries.

City trail An­to­nio Conte’s side by seven points, hav­ing climbed to se­cond place by com­ing from be­hind to beat Arse­nal at the Eti­had Sta­dium on Sun­day, and Guardi­ola says the lead­ers are in their sights.

Asked if the win, se­cured by se­cond-half goals from Leroy Sane and Ra­heem Ster­ling, would give City a psy­cho­log­i­cal boost, Guardi­ola nod­ded and replied: “A lot.

“Seven points is a huge dis­tance and when a team can make 11 vic­to­ries in a row, you just can say con­grat­u­la­tions.

“But at least to be there as much pos­si­ble, and wait­ing if the op­po­nent fails some­times, and wait­ing un­til the last part of the sea­son to be there, to fight for the ti­tle.”

Since Guardi­ola’s ar­rival in Eng­land, following stel­lar stints at Barcelona and Bay­ern Mu­nich, there has been huge in­ter­est in whether his pass­ing prin­ci­ples will pre­vail in the pell-mell Premier League.

The City man­ager trig­gered his team’s come­back by mov­ing Kevin De Bruyne up front at half-time and switch­ing Ster­ling to the right flank, but he played down the sig­nif­i­cance of the de­ci­sion.

“Be­cause we won, now the trainer is a ge­nius!” said Guardi­ola, who faced crit­i­cism following re­cent one-sided losses to Chelsea and Le­ices­ter City.

Guardi­ola said he had apol­o­gised to John Stones af­ter bench­ing the cen­tre­back, a £47.5 mil­lion ($59.3 mil­lion, 56.8 mil­lion euros) re­cruit from Ever­ton, for the se­cond game run­ning.

But he hailed Yaya Toure, who has be­come an in­creas­ingly vi­tal cog in City’s mid­field de­spite Guardi­ola ini­tially freez­ing him out.

Asked if Toure’s form might earn the 33year-old an ex­ten­sion to his con­tract, which ex­pires at the end of the sea­son, Guardi­ola replied: “No an­swer to that ques­tion.

“I know he fin­ishes his con­tract. Now we have time to dis­cuss about that.

What I am im­pressed most (by) is his huge qual­ity. “He looks like a boy. He played awe­some. It is not in terms of when he has the ball, it’s the per­son­al­ity.

“When we are in trou­ble, he goes there, asks for the ball, pass, pass. When Yaya plays at that level, be­cause he is fit and fo­cused, he is an ex­cep­tional, ex­cep­tional player.”—AFP

Pep Guardi­ola

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