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Guardiola warns City over 'relegation' showing against Villa

Manchester City need to worry about banishing relegation-level moments and not Premier League leaders Liverpool, says manager Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

PEP GUARDIOLA WARNED Manchester City they can forget about overhauling Premier League leaders Liverpool if they recreate their “relegation” performance in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

Guardiola’s reigning champions trimmed the deficit to three points thanks to second-half goals from Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan at the Etihad Stadum on Saturday.

Liverpool can double their advantage by beating Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, but Guardiola was more willing to dwell upon his team’s showing before the break against Villa, which he felt had more in common with a battle to stay in the division than a title race.

“Six days ago we were eight points [behind], now we are three. But they have to play against Tottenham,” he said.

“I am not concerned about the table. I am concerned about the way we played.

“If we play the level we played in the second half we can be there until the end of the season, I am sure of that.

“If we play the way we did in the first half, we will be in the relegation positions, far away from the leaders of the table. That is my view.”

“The first half we played football but not in the way we should play.”

Gabriel Jesus got the nod to start ahead of Sergio Aguero at centre-forward, the Brazil international alert to flick on Ederson’s long clearance to set up City’s opener.

Aguero replaced Sterling to end the game operating in tandem with Jesus and Guardiola insists it does not always have to be a case of either/or when it comes to his two strikers.

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“Both players together, yeah they can play. It depends on the opponent, how they use their system,” he said.

“Gabriel in the national team plays sometimes on the left. He is not a specific winger like Bernardo [Silva], Leroy [Sane] and Riyad [Mahrez] but he can play there when we need more players in the box.

“He has an incredible work ethic, he can help us with runs in behind and his movement is so good.”

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