Manchester City are back in business, says Pep Guardiola

Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan (right) in action with Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic in their Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London on January 3, 2021
Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan (right) in action with Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic in their Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London on January 3, 2021
Image: SHAUN BOTTERILL / REUTERS

Pep Guardiola said his Manchester City side were "back" on Sunday after they outclassed Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge to move into the top five of the Premier League.

City struck three times in 16 minutes in the first half with Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne on target as the visitors sent out a warning to the title contenders.

"We played really well. Unfortunately the last goal but the result at Stamford Bridge is fantastic. Today we were back like we were. An important win at Chelsea away," Guardiola said.

"The Premier League is weird for everything. Everything is weird, just have to be focused during the games but otherwise relax. Hopefully in the Premier League in the last six, seven games we can be there fighting."

City are now unbeaten in seven games and are only four points behind leaders Liverpool and Manchester United having played a game less. At times during the first half they played the kind of football that brought back-to-back titles.

Even more impressive was the fact that Guardiola was without six players who were isolating because of a Covid-19 outbreak at the club, including keeper Ederson, Ferran Torres, Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus while Riyad Mahrez and Sergio Aguero were only on the bench after injuries.

"The result is incredible for us, especially the way that we played," Guardiola said. "Chelsea are one of the strongest teams, but we had a plan and tried to play how we've done in the past and it worked, the players were fantastic.

"We have to play to our rhythm. We won the Premier League like that, more patient, more calm, and we've missed that tempo a little bit for many reasons.

"The way we won the two Premier League titles was like today."

Guardiola defended Benjamin Mendy after the full back breached Covid protocols on New Year's Eve, saying the Frenchman's critics were too quick to pass judgment.

Mendy apologised for flouting rules by hosting a party attended by at least three people outside his household. Under British government guidelines, those living in regions with Tier 4 restrictions are not allowed to mix with others outside their own household.

"Normally in this society we judge, but society will be better if we judge ourselves. I'm not justifying him, he broke the rules. But don't give too many lessons to the other ones," Guardiola told reporters after Sunday's win.

His comments come after some current and former players lambasted Mendy and other Premier League players for failing to act as role models and argued that clubs needed to be stronger and hand out punishments.

"You can't say 'deal with it internally' and still play them. That will fall on deaf ears. To make a real message, you have to drop them from teams," Derby County defender Curtis Davies told the BBC.

Guardiola said footballers should not be held to higher standards because they are viewed as role models.

"They have the same responsibility as everyone else. Mendy knows he made a big mistake, but it finishes here."

Mendy was an unused substitute in the game at Chelsea.

- Reuters

 

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