Football

Man City need time to hit top form, says Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City need time to hit top form after they ground out a 1-0 win over Arsenal yesterday morning (Singapore time) to move three points off the top of the English Premier League table.

City dropped points in their two previous league games before the international break and were again far from their free-flowing best without the injured midfielder Kevin de Bruyne and defender Aymeric Laporte.

But having been hit by a host of positive Covid-19 tests and injuries, Guardiola is content to be among the chasing pack now.

"We are not unfortunately able to sustain for 90 minutes the way we want to play, but these games help us achieve it," said the 49-year-old Catalan.

"We need time to grow as a team. This game is going to help us to make a step forward."

His former assistant Mikel Arteta got the better of his old boss when the sides last met in the FA Cup semi-finals in July and Guardiola responded with a change to a 3-5-2 system to match Arsenal.

Striker Sergio Aguero made his first appearance since June, leading the line with Raheem Sterling, who scored the only goal after Bernd Leno could only parry Phil Foden's initial effort.

INCIDENT

Aguero, 32, was criticised for putting his arm on the shoulder of female assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis after disputing a throw-in call, but Guardiola tried to play down the incident.

For touching match officials, Aguero could have been cautioned or sent off.

Guardiola said: "Come on, guys. Sergio is the nicest person I ever met in my life. Look for problems in other situations, not in this one." - AFP

Football