Pep says West Brom the focus, not Barca

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany was able to train on Thursday and could be passed fit to play against West Bromwich Albion today, despite coming off at half-time against Manchester United in the League Cup.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany was able to train on Thursday and could be passed fit to play against West Bromwich Albion today, despite coming off at half-time against Manchester United in the League Cup.PHOTO: REUTERS

No distractions as City concentrate on EPL match, hoping to end six-game barren streak

LONDON • Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City will not be distracted by having to play Barcelona next week as they prepare for today's visit to West Bromwich Albion.

A significant number of Spanish journalists turned up yesterday to ask the City manager which of two very different games he would make his priority, a question less easy to answer now that the Spaniard is looking for his first win in seven matches when he makes his first trip to the Hawthorns.

City remain top of the Premier League but at six matches Guardiola is already on the longest winless sequence of his managerial career.

"The answer is always the same, we go game by game and the next match is always the most important," Guardiola said. "We will only begin to talk about Barcelona on Sunday."

Bizarrely, the City manager was asked in Spanish whether there was any truth in a rumour linking him to Real Madrid. That brought a smile, at least.

"I don't think Real Madrid need a manager like me," he said. "I'm a follower of Barcelona."

Guardiola has not come across a Tony Pulis team before, though he knows a lot about his opponent through talking to his players.

"West Brom play a physical game and a counter-attacking game," he said. "I am aware of the danger posed by Salomon Rondon, and I expect they will try to play long balls for him to hold up.

"We will have to try and adapt our game, but that happens all the time. Every game is different, every opponent is different, and you have to find a way to deal with it.

"I have heard a lot about Tony Pulis and I would like to congratulate Tony Pulis on his new contract at West Brom. I have been speaking with my players and I understand he makes it almost impossible for visiting teams to win at Stoke City.

"Looking at our own game I don't think we are too far from where we want to be, despite our run of results. We are creating enough chances to win games but we need to make better decisions in and around the box."

Guardiola received a piece of good news on Thursday, with captain Vincent Kompany able to train despite coming off at half-time against United on Wednesday, complaining of tiredness.

Winger Kevin de Bruyne may also be fit to play some part after recovering from a calf problem.

West Brom almost rescued a point at Liverpool last Saturday, but ultimately losing 2-1, which ended a run of three successive 1-1 draws.

Hal Robson-Kanu, who has established himself as the back-up to first-choice striker Randon, is hopeful West Brom can improve on their current league position of 13th with a good show against City.

Pulis, though, is worried that some of his key players may not be fit to play today. "We've got one or two knocks and niggles that we won't be sure about tomorrow, but I don't want to say any names," he said yesterday.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WEST BROM V MAN CITY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2016, with the headline 'Pep says West Brom the focus, not Barca'. Print Edition | Subscribe