City folk keep faith with Pep's tactics

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been a bright spark under Everton's new Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti, netting the winning goal in both of the last two matches. He has eight goals in the Premier League this season. PHOTO: REUTERS
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been a bright spark under Everton's new Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti, netting the winning goal in both of the last two matches. He has eight goals in the Premier League this season. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • As Liverpool continue their inexorable march towards a first top-flight league title in 30 years, pundits have declared Jurgen Klopp and not Pep Guardiola as football's best manager.

Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson told the Daily Star the Reds boss could even "take Rotherham and make them a Premier League club", insisting it would be beyond his Manchester City counterpart.

But after the Spaniard became the fastest manager to win 100 Premier League games in his 134th in charge on Sunday evening, beating Jose Mourinho's mark (142), Oleksandr Zinchenko still has utmost faith in his boss' leadership.

The City defender said of his feat: "Of course, he is unbelievable with tactics. It's a massive gap (to Liverpool), but every single game we have to show our class, and then in the end of the season, we are going to see what happens, because everything is possible in this kind of league."

Former Barcelona skipper Xavi also feels the 14-point lead the Reds have built up over the English champions "will hurt him as Pep is a born winner".

He told the Daily Mail: "He won't give up, (but) he will be realistic and at the moment, it doesn't look likely that they can make it three titles in a row.

"With that in mind, there's a big chance Pep will prioritise the Champions League."

Still, with fourth-place Chelsea just six points behind City in third, the chasing pack are too close for comfort for Guardiola's men.

They have already suffered five league losses this term - compared to a total of six across their last two title-winning seasons - and today's opponents, Everton, are set to pose another test of their character.

The 10th-placed Toffees travel to the Etihad in buoyant form and are unbeaten in five league games with three wins and two draws.

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    Man City v Everton

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The visitors can also boast a 100 per cent record under new manager Carlo Ancelotti and ahead of the trip to his former club for the first time since leaving in a £8.5 million (S$15 million) transfer in the summer, Fabian Delph is confident they are on an upward trajectory.

He told the club website: "We've got some momentum now. I spent four great years at City and I formed some good relationships...

"When a new (Everton) manager comes in, it freshens things up. We've got a new way of playing."

His confidence also stems from the emergence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin as a reliable presence up top.

The 22-year-old has a career-best eight league strikes this campaign and has nabbed the winner in the past two games for Everton.

On his teammate, who was yesterday linked with a £50 million move to Manchester United this month, Delph added: "He seems to be coming on leaps and bounds.

"He's a team player and getting results. Long may that continue."

MAN CITY V EVERTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2020, with the headline 'City folk keep faith with Pep's tactics'. Print Edition | Subscribe