Home Sport Manchester City learn how to grind it out as Pep Guardiola's side...

Manchester City learn how to grind it out as Pep Guardiola's side edge out Arsenal


Manchester City learn how to grind it out as Pep Guardiola’s side put injuries behind them to edge out Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal thanks to Raheem Sterling winner

  • Manchester City edged past Arsenal 1-0 thanks to Raheem Sterling’s winner 
  • Pep Guardiola’s side have several injuries to key players but still managed to win
  • Kevin De Bruyne, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy missed the Arsenal win
  • Guardiola may have to reshuffle his pack for the Champions League this week 

Pep Guardiola went all Zen. 

‘The mind and head can always control your body,’ he said, a mantra that should chime among a wounded Manchester City. ‘We had the willing to make more effort.’

The injuries, most of them muscular, keep coming —Aymeric Laporte, Kevin De Bruyne, Benjamin Mendy and Gabriel Jesus the headline absentees this week — but here was some fibre. 

Pep Guardiola's injury hit Manchester City side edged past Arsenal 1-0 on Saturday evening

Pep Guardiola’s injury hit Manchester City side edged past Arsenal 1-0 on Saturday evening

Raheem Sterling (middle) scored the winner as his good form against Arsenal continued

Raheem Sterling (middle) scored the winner as his good form against Arsenal continued

City ground out their victory and these strange times have left their manager reaching for different qualities.

He has almost abandoned the obsession with a perfect build-up from the back for now, knowing that City are nowhere near their fluid best. The words stable and solid rolled off the tongue.  

Guardiola always demands the fundamentals but it is rare that he openly fixates on them. Yet that is where City are: searching for form. 

City have Kevin De Bruyne, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy injured but City still won

City have Kevin De Bruyne, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy injured but City still won

Trouble is, the Premier League will not wait and results are a necessity while they attempt to find rhythm. 

Ruben Dias, whose first two appearances at centre half since moving from Benfica have been solid and stable, is learning on the job. Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero both featured for the first time this season.

This is by no means ideal for a team who fell woefully short last year and, before any normal campaign, would have found pre-season on Guardiola’s watch a gruelling experience.

City were not afforded that — they had a little over a week’s worth of sessions — and now they are playing catch-up, particularly when only half a dozen outfield first-team players have remained injury or Covid-free in the first month.

Guardiola's City have played a game less so they are playing catch-up in the Premier League

Guardiola’s City have played a game less so they are playing catch-up in the Premier League

Irrespective of money spent or squad depth, that is a scenario most teams could not contend with.

‘We’d love to train more,’ Guardiola said. ‘But we are not an exception, the teams competing in Europe are the same.’ Although he did add: ‘Liverpool and Arsenal started (training) three weeks before us.’

In this strangest of seasons, however, City can still go level on points with the defending champions should they beat Aston Villa in their game in hand. 

And despite shipping five at home against Leicester, City somehow have a break-even goal difference.

Arsenal, meanwhile, showed glimpses and forced Ederson into two stunning stops, but they still have not beaten a ‘Big Six’ rival away from the Emirates since January 2015.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta (left) said he was proud of his players' display despite the defeat

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta (left) said he was proud of his players’ display despite the defeat

‘I’m extremely proud of the way we played,’ Mikel Arteta said. ‘Games are decided in the box. When you get there you have to put them away.’

Raheem Sterling did just that before half-time — a 35th club goal in 14 months — and City made sure they saw it out thereafter with more grit than their supporters are used to seeing.

Guardiola’s job is to retain that attitude as they bounce from one game to the next. Porto arrive at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday and there is no free midweek until New Year. Their squad could really do without more bumps, bruises and tight hamstrings.

Guardiola may have to rotate players like Sergio Aguero (right) again in the Champions League

Guardiola may have to rotate players like Sergio Aguero (right) again in the Champions League

It will be interesting to see how their pack is shuffled for the Champions League opener. 

Will Guardiola rest some key players but not others, and then do the same at West Ham next Saturday? Or will he stick with the majority of his first-choice side but approach the games in a lower gear?

‘They are not machines, they need time to get the condition,’ Guardiola said. ‘We’ve played good, but the good thing is when we’re not playing like we want, we were incredibly stable.’

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Baby survives SIX hours in morgue refrigerator at Mexican hospital after being wrongly declared dead

Alive after SIX hours in hospital morgue fridge: Shocked undertakers discover...

iPhone 12 out now, but launch day could bring serious disappointment for some Apple fans

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro will arrive on shelves nationwide today and those who managed to pre-order the latest smartphone models from...

Body language expert analyses Lily James in first TV interview since Dominic West photos

Lily James looked 'about as comfortable as a trainee tightrope walker' during her first TV appearance since the photos of her and Dominic...

iPhone 12 released today: Apple reveals best and new ways to buy its smartphones

Today is the day Apple fans have been waiting for all year. From this morning, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro will...

Recent Comments