Guardi­ola more wor­ried about Zaha than win­ning streak

The National - News - - SPORT -

Pep Guardi­ola is far more in­ter­ested in stop­ping Wil­fried Zaha than bet­ter­ing his own record for suc­ces­sive vic­to­ries.

Guardi­ola’s Manch­ester City are chas­ing a re­mark­able 19th straight Premier League vic­tory as they take on Crys­tal Palace at Sel­hurst Park on New Year’s Eve.

Their win­ning streak is al­ready a record for all English league foot­ball but one more vic­tory would see City equal the 19 in a row Guardi­ola achieved while in charge of Bay­ern Mu­nich in 2013/14.

“I’m not here to com­ment on the record,” the City man­ager said.

“It’s sim­ple to say, ‘Yes or no, do we break it or not?’. That is not what counts.

“What counts is what we have to do against Palace, and what we have to do against their four amaz­ing strik­ers.

“I’m re­ally im­pressed with what Zaha is able to do. When he was not on the pitch, Crys­tal Palace were not able to win. In the first nine games, Zaha was not there, but when he came back in, the team changed.

“He is a guy who can turn the game. He’s won a lot of points by him­self. That’s what I have to be con­cerned about.”

Guardi­ola, who also won 16 suc­ces­sive games as Barcelona man­ager, claimed com­par­isons be­tween this City side and his past teams are pre­ma­ture be­cause no sil­ver­ware has yet been won.

“We can­not com­pare be­cause we were there three years in Mu­nich,” he said. “It’s my sec­ond sea­son here and we haven’t won one ti­tle.

“We are be­hind those two clubs, and not just in terms of ti­tles. We have just to be calm and fo­cus on what we have to do on Sun­day. “That is my only con­cern.” City, whose vic­tory at New­cas­tle United on Wed­nes­day opened up a 15-point lead at the top of the ta­ble, thrashed Palace 5-0 in Septem­ber.

That game was just Roy Hodg­son’s sec­ond in the Premier League in charge of the Ea­gles and left them bot­tom with zero points af­ter six games.

Since then the former Eng­land man­ager has over­seen a re­cov­ery with Palace hav­ing taken 18 points from their past 13 games.

“They have this tal­ent. It’s hap­pened many times,” said Guardi­ola, not­ing their abil­ity to score cru­cial goals in the clos­ing min­utes.

“It’s not, ‘Oh, it was a lucky day’. No. It hap­pened two, three, four times be­cause they have the tal­ent.

“It’s not nec­es­sary for Crys­tal Palace to play at a high, high level to cre­ate the prob­lems. At Sel­hurst Park, if you don’t win 3-0, or have a dis­tance of three goals, ev­ery­thing can hap­pen un­til the end.

“I said to the play­ers af­ter New­cas­tle, ‘Be ready guys and fo­cus be­cause we have a tough game on the 31st at Sel­hurst Park’.

“They are a team who can cre­ate a lot of things for them­selves.”

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