Daily Mail

PEP We don’t score late winners like Arsenal

City boss claims title rivals’ desperatio­n gives them edge

- KIERAN GILL at Selhurst Park

As manager of the club that scored football’s most famous stoppageti­me winner — the ‘Aguerooo’ goal — it is surprising to hear Pep Guardiola say Manchester City are no longer capable of such moments.

Recently it is Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal who have been scoring in the final moments of matches — one against Bournemout­h in a 3-2 win, two against Aston Villa for 4-2 and one against Manchester United, 3-2.

Unprompted, Guardiola pointed out that City cannot do that. His reason? They recently won two titles on the trot.

‘They have many years without winning the Premier League and that gives you a little bit extra to win games in 93, 96, 98,’ he said. ‘That is something they have that we don’t have because we have won back-to-back, two times.’

Reading between the lines, it sounded like Guardiola was saying City’s players have grown too comfortabl­e. They know what it is like to win the Premier League, Arsenal do not, and that gives them extra incentive to keep going, to never say die.

Guardiola went on to say that experience counts for nothing in this game, rather it is the desire to prove you are winners which will eventually tie your club’s ribbons to the trophy.

‘still Arsenal are the favourites because they are in front,’ the Catalan said, before complainin­g about why his side are not as fond of late winners as their title rivals.

Not wanting to sound too down after a win, Guardiola continued: ‘Normally in this country when you win something or a lot and you don’t start the season well or another team is better, you drop this consistenc­y, but still we are there. This is the best trophy and compliment we can have.

‘I don’t know what is going to happen at the end of the season, but still they know we want to be there and will fight to be there and this is great.’

City got away with one at selhurst Park. Guardiola’s use of a back four made up entirely of centre backs, along with dropping Kevin De Bruyne to the bench, did not help their cause.

Crystal Palace put up a defiant defensive display and their undoing, ultimately, was a rash challenge from Michael Olise. His unnecessar­y foul on Ilkay Gundogan, after a quick corner by Jack Grealish, was costly. Erling Haaland stepped up to the spot and scored, as he so often does.

City wasted several chances before this, Haaland squanderin­g one which was a tap-in by his standards. That perhaps explained his passionate beating- of-thechest celebratio­ns at full-time.

Given the pressure on Haaland to keep them in this race, he was their saviour again, scoring his 28th Premier League goal of the season.

Guardiola added: ‘If experience works, the team who wins the previous season will win it every single season. Look at Liverpool, who lost against Bournemout­h. A few months ago, 9-0.

‘What you have done in the past is in the past. You have to do it again because football is unpredicta­ble. People take for granted there are guarantees but it’s not the truth. The reality is, still we are there.’

Indeed they are, while Palace are edging nearer to the relegation race under Patrick Vieira, who is feeling increased pressure.

For the first time since statistici­ans started tracking the Premier League, a team have now gone three games without a shot on target.

Palace put up a defensive wall but City still scored. Not in the last minute, mind, which seems to be eating away at their manager’s fingernail­s. CRYSTAL PALACE (4-2-3-1): Guaita 7; Clyne 6.5 (Ward 71min, 6), Andersen 7, Guehi 7, Mitchell 7; Milivojevi­c 6.5 (Ahamada 61, 6), Lokonga 7; Schlupp 6.5 (Eze 80), Olise 5.5, Ayew 6 (Edouard 80); Zaha 6. Booked: Milivojevi­c, Andersen. Manager: Patrick Vieira 6. MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3): Ederson 6; Stones 7 (Walker 89), Akanji 7, Dias 7, Ake 7; Silva 6.5 (De Bruyne 79), Rodri 7, Gundogan 7; Foden 6.5 (Alvarez 58, 6), HAALAND 7.5, Grealish 7. Booked: Dias, Ake. n Scorer: Haaland 78 (pen). Manager: Pep Guardiola 7. Referee: Robert Jones 6. Attendance: Not provided.

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 ?? REUTERS ?? Nicked one: Guardiola and Haaland celebrate
REUTERS Nicked one: Guardiola and Haaland celebrate

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