Manchester City make the short trip to face second place Everton to play their second Premier League game in 48 hours. Since a disappointing performance against West Brom, Pep Guardiola’s side have won back to back games and made it to Carabao Cup semi-final.
Here’s what Pep Guardiola had to say before this one…
Guardiola not risking Agüero
Every time City fans see the club’s all-time leading goalscorer take the field it’s a heartwarming sight. With his fitness slowly but surely returning, Pep Guardiola says he was considering starting him against Newcastle – but didn’t want to push it.
“We discussed with Juanma [Lillo] and Rodo [Borrell] whether to start with Sergio [vs Newcastle]. I need him. Today was very good news in general is that in the 20 minutes Sergio played, we saw him sharp and dynamic. This is incredible news for us.”
“We need him, absolutely. We have to be careful. We cannot do what we did in the past, when he comes back and then gets injured. I still want to handle the minutes but I saw him well. I love this guy.”
“Saying that, Ferran [Torres] did an incredible job. It’s not a usual position for him. He’s a winger. It’s not normal to play. He’s helping a lot with his movements.”
Guardiola hails ‘outstanding’ KDB
One of our most consistent performers this season has been the Belgian ace Kevin De Bruyne. Only recently Guardiola admitted he couldn’t afford to rest him with the upcoming schedule. He’s echoed that praise today:
“He’s outstanding, so important for us. Sometimes, like Arsenal, he didn’t travel. I prefer to have him fit especially in the Premier League. The other competitions are important but we don’t want to be too far away from the top of the league.”
Picking up points where we haven’t in the past…
Newcastle hasn’t always been a happy hunting ground for Manchester City – particularly away from home. Even with the Blues’ brilliant home form against the Magpies, Pep Guardiola was pleased the side could get the job done.
“I’m happy. In the last seasons, we struggled vs Newcastle – dropped points – but today was incredible. We made a lot of passes – I don’t know how many – millions! That’s the way we want to play. We missed two chances, have to improve – we know it.”
“We know our standards. We played really well in the past. You have to try to achieve that. At some points, it’s easier after five years together but some people change after five years. We saw a lot of things tonight we want to see.”
Praise for Silky Ilkay
Yesterday’s opening scorer was, yet again, in for some high praise from his manager. Well deserved too, with the German putting in another classy display. Here’s what Pep had to say:
“Ilkay is an incredible player, an incredible human first of all. In bad moments in the first season, he had an ACL [injury], but he’s an incredible person and competitor. He doesn’t feel the pressure.”
“We put him close to Ferran [against Newcastle] – more forward – and he has the personality to play. He gives us the right tempo and he did really well.”
Taking advantage of our game in hand
Due to late participation in last seasons Champions League, City have a vitally important game in hand against Aston Villa coming up. Guardiola knows the importance of the game to keep chase of the lading pack:
“We have one game [in hand] against the ‘surprise of the competition – Aston Villa are doing incredible. It will be an incredibly tough game against them but in the way we are going to play, we are going to find our rhythm, be close to the top.”
“Hopefully, we will arrive in the last eight or 10 games being there to fight against the teams above us [in the Premier League].”
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