Saturday, February 4 2023

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola accepts repeatedly coming back from big deficits is no way to defend their Premier League title.

The champions recovered from 3-1 down at Newcastle to draw 3-3 and 2-0 behind at home to Crystal Palace to win 4-2, mainly due to the goal-scoring ability of Erling Haaland.

But Guardiola says scoring four or five goals a match was unsustainable.

“We have to try to avoid it,” he said ahead of Wednesday’s game at home to Nottingham Forest.

“In one time it is good because always in the past, when we were down, it was difficult to come back. And now we proved last season and this season we can do it but we have to try and avoid it as much as possible.

“We have to manage this situation. It is risky. One day we will not be able to come back.”

Guardiola, asked whether City were conceding more goals because they had become a more attacking side this season with Haaland in the team, replied: “It is completely the opposite, as far away from your goal you are much safer.

“We have proved this in six years as part of winning the Premier League we have conceded few goals playing this way. We are going to adjust something, it is normal in this period.

“We are scoring a lot of goals as well and, at the same time, we are conceding a lot and if we don’t stop that it will be difficult. You can’t always score four or five goals to win a game for a few months. We have to be better.”

Haaland has scored six goals in the first four games for City, including a match-winning hat-trick against Palace on Saturday.

Guardiola was coy on whether he would pick his striker against Forest, but did say Julian Alvarez would come in if Haaland was rested.

“When Erling doesn’t play, we are going to play Julian. That is almost sure,” he said.

“We are really impressed with his pace, his sense of goal, the work ethic, for many things.

“I knew him a little bit on TV and clips but I am surprised how good he is. He’s so humble, always positive and every training session he gives everything. I like these type of players.

“The impact in the minutes he has played — he could have had a hat-trick at the Camp Nou and was involved in two goals in the last game. He has the sense of goals, we are delighted.

“I know people are talking about Erling and we are pleased but Julian is an exceptional player.”

jdg/bsp

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