Guardiola already looking ahead to Chelsea summit clash

LONDON • Pep Guardiola had barely savoured Manchester City's 2-1 victory at Burnley before he was considering preparations for a more sumptuous Premier League feast against pace-setters Chelsea.

The ex-Barcelona coach, still adapting to life in the English fast lane, will have a whole week to get ready for the clash pitting together two likely title contenders.

That will seem luxurious after eight days encompassing demanding games at Crystal Palace and Burnley - both won - either side of a 1-1 Champions League draw at Borussia Monchengladbach.

"We are going to be playing against the best team in the Premier League. They have been amazing over the past five or six weeks," said City manager Guardiola. "We will try to discover the secret of how we can beat them and we have six or seven days to prepare. Most of the players are tired."

While City have won six of their seven away games in the league this season, their home form has stuttered and the win at Burnley completed back-to-back league wins for the first time since September.

Guardiola had reason once more to be grateful to Sergio Aguero, the prolific City striker who he has criticised over his work-rate and who has yet to sign the new contract that has been long in the offing.

The Argentinian came up with the goals that rescued three points for City, who had fallen behind to a rare strike from Dean Marney, his first top-flight goal in seven years.

Aguero raised his current remarkable strike rate to 33 goals in 34 Premier League appearances despite a foot injury that had made him a doubt on the morning of the game.

"He said, 'I have pain, but I can play,'" Guardiola said afterwards.

City now go into their toughest month of the season. Chelsea's visit will be followed by matches against Arsenal and Liverpool as well as a visit to champions Leicester.

Guardiola can look ahead with no new injuries to worry about, after confirming Raheem Sterling's withdrawal at Burnley was tactical.

The subdued England winger was targeted by the home fans' chants of "You've let your country down".

The Spaniard said: "He is an England player and a really nice guy. I like supporters who support their teams."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2016, with the headline 'Guardiola already looking ahead to Chelsea summit clash'. Print Edition | Subscribe