Guardi­ola warns high-fly­ing City against com­pla­cency

The Borneo Post - - SPORT -

MANCH­ESTER, United King­dom: Pep Guardi­ola has warned his Manch­ester City play­ers that com­pla­cency is the big­gest threat to their push for do­mes­tic and Euro­pean dom­i­na­tion.

Guardi­ola’s un­beaten Premier League lead­ers visit Chelsea on Satur­day sit­ting two points clear of clos­est chal­lengers Liver­pool.

City are well on course to de­fend the ti­tle they won with 100 points in May and are also through to the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League with a game to spare.

They have man­aged all of that largely with­out the ser­vices of last sea­son’s club player of the year Kevin De Bruyne.

City must also go to Lon­don with­out top scorer Ser­gio Aguero, who has missed the past two matches with an ad­duc­tor mus­cle strain.

Guardi­ola, who says he does not care about the pos­si­bil­ity of City go­ing through the en­tire league sea­son un­beaten, has told his play­ers that main­tain­ing their stan­dards is the key to suc­cess.

“The big­gest dan­ger to us is ba­si­cally to think that it’s not nec­es­sary to im­prove,” he said. “I see my team and many things are good but still we can be bet­ter.

“I am proud that we have been con­sis­tent for most of the past 15 or 16 months, play­ing ev­ery three days.

“That’s the most dif­fi­cult thing to achieve in all sports. It’s a big com­pli­ment for the play­ers. But I tell them ev­ery game that there are many things we can do bet­ter, but we could have dropped two points in the fi­nal 10 min­utes at Wat­ford on Tues­day.”

Chelsea head coach Mau­r­izio Sarri has sug­gested that Manch­ester City are the best team in Europe but Guardi­ola has dis­missed that claim.

Ac­cord­ing to the City man­ager, his team need to win the Cham­pi­ons League be­fore they can be classed as the con­ti­nent’s best.

Chelsea have lost their past two away league matches, at Tot­ten­ham and Wolves, but Sarri is tak­ing them in the right di­rec­tion, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Barcelona boss Guardi­ola.

“The job he has done so far is ex­cel­lent,” he said. “Peo­ple don’t know how dif­fi­cult it is to play in a spe­cial way. He needs time.

“Their past two away games were so dif­fi­cult and things like this can hap­pen. But dur­ing pre-sea­son we played them in the Com­mu­nity Sheld at Wem­b­ley and they were al­ready his team.

“Maybe they are not play­ing con­sis­tently for 90 min­utes but when they play well for 50 to 70 min­utes, they are ex­cel­lent.”

Guardi­ola has played down the like­li­hood of City match­ing the Arse­nal side of 2003-04 by go­ing through a whole Premier League sea­son un­beaten, ar­gu­ing that it is less im­por­tant to him than the qual­ity of his team’s per­for­mances.

City man­aged a run of 22 league games un­beaten from the start of last sea­son, win­ning 20 of them, be­fore fall­ing to a 4-3 de­feat at Liver­pool in Jan­uary.

Arse­nal are one of only two teams to go through an en­tire English top-flight sea­son with­out de­feat.

— AFP photo

Manch­ester City’s Brazil­ian goal­keeper Eder­son (C) tips the ball over the bar to make a last minute save dur­ing the English Premier League foot­ball match be­tween Wat­ford and Manch­ester City at Vicarage Road Sta­dium in Wat­ford, north of Lon­don.

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