Every game is tough, says Pep

City boss insists his team can be beaten as he seeks 12th straight win in EPL to extend lead

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling has two goals and an assist in his last three league outings and will be a threat to Everton today.
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling has two goals and an assist in his last three league outings and will be a threat to Everton today.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Manchester City's streak of 16 wins in all competitions is by far the best of any club in Europe's "Big Five" leagues so far this season.

The next best run has been the 10 straight victories by world champions Bayern Munich and that was earlier in the term, so Pep Guardiola's men are arguably the most in-form team at the moment.

City play their Premier League game in hand today at Everton and a win will stretch their lead at the top of the table to 10 points over rivals Manchester United (46), a commanding gap at this stage of the season.

But despite 11 top-flight wins in a row, Guardiola has dismissed talk that his side are "invincible".

Everton are winless in their last four league games at home, losing three of them, so Goodison Park may not exactly be a fortress. But the Toffees are still having a better than expected season.

They remain in the running to qualify for the Champions League, sitting five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea (42) but have two games in hand on the Blues and Guardiola will not treat today's opponents lightly.

"No we don't have that (unbeatable) feeling. Everything we have done is because we have to run a lot, play good, the quality of the players does the rest," the Spaniard said yesterday.

"Every game is tough. Tomorrow is no exception. Next one is the only important one.

"Everton always has been one of the greatest teams in England. This season is much better than previous seasons. Like all the teams, Manchester City included, they have ups and downs, it's normal. But the quality from Carlo (Ancelotti) is always there."

He also offered his support to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after the Reds' downturn in form led to rumours the German could walk away from the champions with their title defence in tatters.

Guardiola and Klopp have battled for supremacy for the majority of their time in England as the league's two dominant sides for the past four seasons.

However, Liverpool are now in sixth spot, currently out of the Champions League spots, and lie 13 points behind City.

That gap will grow to 16 if the visitors extend their winning streak here but Guardiola insisted even if City do end up running away with the title, it would not diminish Klopp's achievements at Anfield.

"What he has produced in football is exceptional," he said.

"His philosophy makes football entertaining for all spectators. He always wants to produce joy to the fans, to play attacking football.

"We all have good moments or bad moments. There is no club or manager that can sustain seasons and seasons of winning, winning, winning, winning."

City will not be able to call on Ilkay Gundogan, scorer of 11 goals in his last 12 league outings, while Kevin de Bruyne remains on the sidelines but Guardiola said both players were close to returning.

Besides Nathan Ake, he does not have other injury concerns and given City's strength in depth, Ancelotti is expecting his side to have little possession with striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin still out.

"We have to play with efficiency when we have the ball," said the Italian, who confirmed Jordan Pickford and Allan were in line to return. "Most of the time, City are going to have the ball. We have to use quality in the time we have the ball."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2021, with the headline 'Every game is tough, says Pep'. Subscribe