The Big Match

History makers yet to reach top gear

Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola (right) greets his players after winning the match between Swansea City and Manchester City, on Dec 13.
Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola (right) greets his players after winning the match between Swansea City and Manchester City, on Dec 13.PHOTO: AFP

Pep issues warning that City, on a 15-win run, can still improve amid talk of January signings

LONDON • Pep Guardiola's hunger to make history with Manchester City remains undiminished after his side became the first team in the history of the English top flight to win 15 successive games.

City reached the milestone with a ruthless 4-0 win at Swansea on Wednesday, which preserved their 11-point lead at the summit. However, he was not satisfied.

"It's important to play better, that is the most important thing," the Spaniard was quoted as saying by BBC Sport in his pre-match conference for the Premier League clash with Tottenham today.

"The record will always stay there until one day it is broken. Statistics are good but I have the feeling we can be much, much better."

City will face a sterner test at home today against a resurgent Spurs side, but the City manager is relishing the prospect of facing a rival team whose approach to the game chimes with his own.

"Tottenham, with Chelsea, is the best team in the way to play football," he added, seemingly taking a swipe at Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho's defensive "parking the bus" tactics.

"They don't expect the other ones (to take the initiative) - they want to make their own game. It is another amazing test for us.

"But we are ready to face them and try to keep that level we have shown in the last period."

NOT YET IN FULL STRIDE

It's important to play better, that is the most important thing. The record (15 wins in a row) will always stay there until one day it is broken. Statistics are good but I have the feeling we can be much, much better.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Manchester City manager, feels his table-topping side are just getting started despite an 11-point lead over Manchester United.

Tottenham have won their last two league matches following four games without a win, a run that has seen them return to the Champions League places in fourth - 18 points behind City.

"It doesn't matter where they are now, for me, they are still a top team," Guardiola said.

"I see what they do, not their position. I have a lot of respect for Tottenham and what they do.

"They are a very, very good team. I like to watch them play."

The 46-year-old also hinted that his central defensive duo, Vincent Kompany and John Stones, could soon be back in the starting line-up.

"Vincent Kompany is much better. He has a little problem. I don't know if tomorrow he will be fit but hopefully in the next days, he will be ready," Guardiola said.

"John Stones is much, much better. I think he's at week four and the doctor said between four and six. One or two weeks, he'll be ready."

When asked if the club would add to their backline in next month's transfer window, Guardiola did not give a definite answer.

"We speak about (January signings) with the club and Txiki Begiristain (the club's director of football), he said.

"We don't want to sign someone for a few months. We want to sign for years and we have to make sure it's the right guy."

Following the win at Swansea, he now has new milestones in sight.

Beat Spurs at the Etihad Stadium and he will match his longest run of successive league wins with the great Barcelona team he led to a Spanish LaLiga and Champions League double in 2010-11.

He would then be just three wins off the overall record for Europe's top-five leagues, which he also set - a 19-game winning streak with Bayern Munich in 2013-14.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2017, with the headline 'History makers yet to reach top gear'. Print Edition | Subscribe