Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola is not pushing the panic button despite his team’s recent poor form.
City take on Tottenham at the Etihad stadium on Thursday looking for a win to cut the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal to five points.
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Saturday’s 2-1 derby loss at Manchester United, which followed their defeat against Southampton in the Carabao Cup, left Guardiola’s side eight points behind the Gunners.
« We have been in this position many times in the past, many, many times, » Guardiola said in Wednesday’s news conference. « I’m never relaxed even when we are eight points ahead.
« The pressure is the next game. We have to win the next game. »
City have not lost three competitive games since April 2018. They have won one and lost four of their previous five Premier League games against Tottenham.
« The only important thing is the next game, » Guardiola said. « You can drop points when you are ahead but when you are behind, you can’t afford to lose points. »
City have created just one scoring opportunity in the last two games.
« We have to improve our game, control what we can control, » he said. « That is what big teams have to do. I have to find a solution.
« Sometimes our fluidity hasn’t been as good as usual. We need to spread the defensive line. We have struggled in the last two games. »
Guardiola said his club’s recent dip is not down to the wrong mentality of the players.
« No, not at all with this group of players, » he said.
Guardiola, meanwhile, said he has already put Saturday’s VAR controversy behind him and had told the players to do so as well.
In Manchester United’s 2-1-win — Bruno Fernandes’ equalizer was allowed to stand despite the linesman’s flag originally going up to rule it out due to Marcus Rashford being offside when Casemiro played his through ball.
Despite complaints by City players, the goal was allowed to stand with Rashford not deemed to be interfering with play.
« It’s in the past, nothing’s going to change, » Guardiola said. « Our focus is on Tottenham. That was my message to the team in the changing room after the game. »
Guardiola confirmed Kevin de Bruyne is available for Thursday’s game after he missed Tuesday’s training session for personal reasons.
The Belgium midfielder has scored three goals and set up 16 others in 25 appearances in all competitions this season.
Defenders Ruben Dias and John Stones are also available for City after recovering from respective injuries.