Football: Manchester City learn 'a big lesson'

Sergio Aguero scoring Manchester City's opener against Arsenal on Sunday after just 46 seconds. Pep Guardiola hailed the 3-1 home win as "we didn't recognise our team" in their shock midweek loss to Newcastle.
Sergio Aguero scoring Manchester City’s opener against Arsenal on Sunday after just 46 seconds. Pep Guardiola hailed the 3-1 home win as “we didn’t recognise our team” in their shock midweek loss to NewcastlePHOTO: REUTERS
Sergio Aguero scoring Manchester City's opener against Arsenal on Sunday after just 46 seconds. Pep Guardiola hailed the 3-1 home win as "we didn't recognise our team" in their shock midweek loss to Newcastle.
PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Champions rebound with Aguero treble against Arsenal but Pep knows they must keep winning

LONDON • Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are back to their best after Sergio Aguero's hat-trick secured a 3-1 win against Arsenal, with the manager admitting the champions did not "recognise" themselves after their shock Premier League loss at Newcastle last week.

His players bounced back thanks to Aguero's treble, the 14th of his City career. The tally moved him to 20 goals in 28 matches this season.

Guardiola hailed his team's response after Laurent Koscielny had pulled Arsenal level in the first half.

The Spaniard said: "What is important is being ourselves. That's what I want. We spoke in the last days. We didn't recognise our team in the last game.

"They know it. They felt the same way. Today at least we came back."

Admitting his side had to concentrate only on their own results, with a testing trip to Everton to come tomorrow, and not be preoccupied with league front-runners Liverpool, he added: "Football is unpredictable... we are the only ones playing in midweek and we have to prepare to win three points.

"We don't have one week off, now we rest and prepare for Goodison Park and afterwards, Chelsea (on Sunday)...

"We have to win a lot of games. A lot of things will happen from now until the end of the season, every game will be tough. What we have to do is try to show which way we are a nice (attractive) team.

  • 10th EPL hat-trick by Sergio Aguero, one behind Alan Shearer

    24sec Sergio Aguero has scored both of the two quickest goals this Premier League season • 24 seconds v Newcastle on Wednesday • 46 seconds v Arsenal on Sunday

"Our performance against Newcastle, we scored (early) and didn't try again and again - no fight to try to score the second goal.

"And then three or four days later, now we score after 46 seconds and try to get the second and try to get more goals.

"That's the big lesson we can learn from these four or five days. When that happens, we are a team that can be proud of what we do."

He also lauded Aguero, who started successive league games for only the second time in the last two months, before insisting he always had a good relationship with the Argentina forward, despite speculation to the contrary.

The 48-year-old added: "He was born with that talent, he will die with that talent. I'm pleased. People said I wasn't friends with him (previously) but I try to be honest - always, I was delighted with him.

"Today, not because of the three goals, (but) because of how we fought for the team. He has his own quality.

"I judge the intention, not the result and the intention from Sergio has been perfect. A striker needs to score and he gave absolutely everything for the team."

But, the scoreline might have been closer after the 30-year-old, who is now only one hat-trick short of Alan Shearer's league record of 11, told reporters he handled the ball over the line for the third goal.

TV replays showed the ball had glanced off his elbow past Bernd Leno, with pundits split on whether it should have been disallowed.

Graeme Souness told Sky Sports the goal should have been ruled out, but Jamie Carragher felt "it would have been harsh to take it away from him".

Aguero's admission was, however, of little comfort to Unai Emery, whose Gunners dropped to sixth place, three points from a Champions League berth, leaving him unsure of a top-four finish.

The Gunners boss said: "After losing 3-1, it's not easy to say that, but we know we need big help.

"Our challenge now is the next week, continue to work and improve, and think how we can work and be better.

"Last week, we won and were with Chelsea in fourth position, but we lost today, (and) lost this position."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2019, with the headline 'City learn a 'big lesson''. Print Edition | Subscribe