Pep purring as Blues ramp up the pres­sure

Manchester Evening News - - CITY - By SI­MON BAJKOWSKI [email protected] @MENS­ports

PEP Guardi­ola has rarely been hap­pier in a post-match in­ter­view than he was as he sat down for ques­tions fol­low­ing City’s vic­tory over Le­ices­ter.

The Blues boss was de­lighted with the way his team had played against one of the best sides in the league, prais­ing how ag­gres­sive they were, how quick they were both on and off the ball, and how they worked to­gether.

Asked if it was the most pleas­ing per­for­mance of the sea­son, he set­tled for it be­ing the most pleas­ing vic­tory.

Thank­ing the play­ers for fol­low­ing his in­struc­tions and be­ing con­vinced by them, Guardi­ola gave the im­pres­sion that he had just watched the team that have smashed so many records in English foot­ball over the last two years.

Look­ing into the de­tails of the game, it is hard to see where the team ex­celled in com­par­i­son to the rest of the sea­son.

They av­er­aged more passes per spell of pos­ses­sion in the game at Arse­nal – where the man­ager was crit­i­cal of the dis­play – and en­joyed far more pos­ses­sion against United and Burn­ley re­cently.

They have been gen­er­ally good at stop­ping the op­po­si­tion get­ting close to their goal for a while, and con­tin­ued their run of con­ced­ing de­spite that.

In­ter­cep­tions and clear­ances were lower than re­cent games.

One stat that stands out though is the qual­ity of the chances they cre­ated. City cre­ated enough good op­por­tu­ni­ties to score at least four goals in the game.

That is their sec­ond best tally of the sea­son; es­sen­tially, the only game they were bet­ter at slic­ing op­po­si­tion de­fences apart was in the 8-0 mas­sacre against Wat­ford.

The Foxes had only con­ceded 11 goals in 17 games be­fore the cham­pi­ons put three past them.

It is that ef­fec­tive­ness that backs up Guardi­ola’s hap­pi­ness at the way his team played.

The man­ager may still have reser­va­tions about the qual­ity of the fin­ish­ing, and mooted that it could come back to haunt them in the Cham­pi­ons League if they do not learn to pun­ish teams more of­ten.

But three goals was still a more than re­spectable ef­fort in the cir­cum­stances and it is al­ways a big­ger worry when the team are not cre­at­ing chances than when they are not fin­ish­ing them. If City are to keep ap­ply­ing pres­sure on the teams above them, they need to do to fu­ture op­po­nents what they did to the Le­ices­ter de­fence.

City boss Pep Guardi­ola with Gabriel Je­sus dur­ing the vi­tal win over Le­ices­ter

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