Agüero puts the pressure back on Liverpool
Argentine striker scores his 14th hat-trick for City after opening the scoring in just 48 seconds
City’s Sergio Agüero celebrates scoring the first goal of his hat-trick against Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium Manchester. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are back to their best after Sergio Agüero’s hat-trick secured a 3-1 win against Arsenal, with the manager admitting they did not “recognise” themselves after the defeat at Newcastle United last week.
The result closes the gap behind Liverpool at the top of the table to two points, with Jürgen Klopp’s team to play their game in hand at West Ham on Monday.
Guardiola’s side bounced back from the surprise loss at St James’ Park thanks to Agüero’s treble – the 14th of his City career – after Laurent Koscielny had pulled Arsenal level in the first half.
Guardiola said: “What is important is being ourselves. That’s what I want. We spoke in the last days. We didn’t recognise our team in the last game. They know it – they felt the same way. Today at least we came back.”
Liverpool might have gone seven points ahead if they had beaten Leicester City last Wednesday but they could only draw, and City’s manager admitted his side must concentrate only on their own results, with a trip to Everton to come on Wednesday.
“Seven [would have been] difficult but football is unpredictable. Now we are two behind and it can be five again or three. But we are the only ones playing in midweek [at Everton] and we have to prepare to win three points.”
Guardiola refused to be drawn regarding whether Liverpool might slip up to West Ham at the London Stadium. “Really I don’t know. I can’t do anything in that game, so now unfortunately we don’t have one week off. Now we rest and prepare for Goodison Park. I cannot deny we prefer West Ham to beat Liverpool, but Liverpool would prefer Arsenal to beat us. That is normal. But I don’t have influence on that. All we can do is win the next game.
“We have to win a lot of games. What happened after Newcastle, everyone thought seven points behind, everyone expected Liverpool to beat Leicester. A lot of things will happen from now until the end of the season, every game will be tough.
“What we have to do is try to show which way we are a nice [attractive] team. Our performance against Newcastle, we scored [early] and didn’t try again and again – no fight to try to score the second goal. And then three or four days later, now we score after 46 seconds and try to get the second and try to get more goals.
“That’s the big lesson we can learn from these four or five days. When that happens we are a team that can be proud for what we do. Of course they [Liverpool] have to play, they have quality, but West Ham are a good side.”
Of Agüero he said: “He was born with that talent, he will die with that talent. I’m pleased. People said I wasn’t friends with him [previously] but I try to be honest – always I was delighted with him. Today, not because of the three goals, because of how we fought for the team. He has his own quality. I judge the intention not the result and the intention from Sergio has been perfect. A striker needs to score.”
Defeat leaves Unai Emery’s Arsenal side in sixth place, three points from a Champions League berth. The Spaniard is unsure if they can claim a top-four finish.
“After losing 3-1 it’s not easy to say that, but we know we need big help. Our challenge now is the next week, continue to work and improve, and think how we can work and be better. Last week we won and were with Chelsea in fourth position, but we lost today, lost this position.”