Guardiola urges Man City to embrace hectic schedule

Phil Foden of Manchester City runs with the ball while under pressure from Abdoulaye Doucoure of Everton during the English Premier League match at Goodison Park on February 17, 2021 in Liverpool
Phil Foden of Manchester City runs with the ball while under pressure from Abdoulaye Doucoure of Everton during the English Premier League match at Goodison Park on February 17, 2021 in Liverpool
Image: Michael Regan / Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said it would be easy to feel overwhelmed by the packed fixture schedule but called on his players to embrace the "beautiful challenge" as they compete for four trophies.

City moved a step closer to a third Premier League title in four seasons on Wednesday after their 3-1 over Everton put them 10 points clear.

They remain on course for four trophies this season, and next visit Arsenal in the league on Sunday before resuming their Champions League campaign with the first leg of their last-16 tie against Borussia Moenchengladbach on February 24.

"The schedule can get you depressed as it's too many games," Guardiola told a news conference. "The guys need rest but at the same time it is a beautiful challenge.

"We don't look at the calendar, just the next one - Arsenal after a few days, we then travel to UCL (Champions League), then West Ham (United), Wolves, (Manchester) United, non-stop."

City's win at Everton was their 17th consecutive victory in all competitions.

Guardiola, who was without in-form midfielder Ilkay Gundogan on Wednesday due to a groin injury, said he would need to call upon his whole squad to maintain the challenge on all four fronts.

"If we want to win titles, we're going to need the entire squad. What pleased me today was the solidarity even from the guys who didn't play," Guardiola added.

"From Benjamin (Mendy) in the stands, from John (Stones) and Alex (Oleksandr Zinchenko). Everyone is a part of this."

Key midfielder Kevin De Bruyne came off the bench to mark his return from a hamstring injury and with the club's all-time scorer Sergio Aguero also close to match fitness, it is hard to see anyone stopping Pep Guardiola's side.

A deflected, but sweetly struck, shot from Phil Foden put City ahead at Goodison Park in the 32nd minute but Everton struck back quickly when Lucas Digne's shot hit the post and was turned in by Richarlison.

It was the first goal City have conceded from open play since January 3.

Although Everton stuck at their task well, however, they were undone by two excellent goals after the break.

Bernardo Silva teased the Everton defence on the right flank before slipping the ball to Riyad Mahrez who unleashed an unstoppable curling drive with his left foot which crashed in off the far post.

It was all over when, after a typical City passing move, Silva jinked past Michael Keane and drilled a low shot which Everton keeper Jordan Pickford could only get a futile hand to.

Guardiola was pleased his team avoided the temptation to rush their attacks.

"We have the quality up front but it comes through the passes and when we arrive in the final third we want to attack too quick, we have to have patience. The second goal is an example of that, if you can't find (the opening), make an extra pass," he said.

City have 56 points from 24 games with Manchester United and Leicester City both on 46 points from the same number of matches.

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti said he felt his team had lost to the future champions.

"It's hard to say another name. At the moment they are the best team, they have quality, power, belief. It is very difficult to compete with them," the Italian said.

- Reuters

 

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