Pep Guardiola urges City to attack and take their chance
Champions will overtake Liverpool at the top of the table if they win at struggling Everton
Pep Guardiola: “We have to win. Are we going to be the team that lost against Newcastle or the team that won against Arsenal. That’s the challenge.” Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP
City will regain top spot from Liverpool tonight on goal difference if they win at Everton, albeit having played a game more, and Guardiola knows the margins could be slim in the final analysis.
His team’s goal difference is five better than Liverpool’s and superior to Tottenham’s by 14. Roberto Mancini’s City side won the title on goal difference from Manchester United in 2012.
“The first message is to win the game and the second one is if you can score, score and if you can avoid conceding, do it,” Guardiola said.
“The Premier League could go to goal difference, I agree, though we are not going to say to the guys: ‘Today we have to win 25-zero.’ I have never said that. First you have to win the game and then second try, because it can happen.”
Liverpool’s last two results have been draws, Jürgen Klopp’s team spurning the chance to pull seven points ahead of City.
Guardiola, asked whether he felt reassured that his players have experience of winning the title, said: “I think [your] question is whether Liverpool can handle the pressure or not – really I don’t know.
“What I would say is that I trust my players because, and I use this example always, we were 3-0 down in the Champions League at Anfield [last season] and the reaction when we played them in the second leg when we scored a legal goal [Leroy Sané’s effort was incorrectly ruled out for offside] and an incredible penalty in the second half via Andy Robertson on Raheem Sterling [which was not given].
“The way we reacted and the way we [proceeded] to play despite all of this – that’s good. The only moment in the last two seasons when we lost back-to-back league games was this season against Crystal Palace and Leicester [in December].
“I have the feeling that when I put them [under] pressure they react well. They accept the challenge when I say: ‘Okay show me again how good you are, come on’. And they do it, they try it.”
But Guardiola believes Klopp’s men have the advantage.
He said: “I would prefer to be in the position of Liverpool. Yesterday after the result [the 1-1 draw at West Ham] we were surprised, but it can happen. They drop two points and it is better for us than the position before. Okay the [other] teams will have a rest and Everton and ourselves have to play on Wednesday. But we have to win. Are we going to be the team that lost against Newcastle or the team that won against Arsenal? That is the challenge.
“Three or four days ago we were already done, the champions were Liverpool and now we can be leading. We try to be calm. There will be surprises and it will be tough for teams to win every game.”
Meanwhile, Marco Silva has claimed Farhad Moshiri, Everton’s majority shareholder, still backs him to develop a young team over the long-term at the club and has not lost faith in yet another manager.
Silva is Moshiri’s third permanent managerial appointment in under three years at Goodison and the latest to come under pressure following a miserable run of form. Saturday’s abject home defeat by Wolves was Everton’s sixth loss in nine Premier League matches and they host title-chasing Manchester City tonight.
The Everton manager has spoken on the phone to Moshiri since the Wolves defeat and claims to have received further support from the billionaire.
“When we have the possibility to meet we do; when not, we speak on the phone,” explained Silva.
“I know what his feelings are. I know what is our project also when he spoke about the situation with the young players. We decided at the beginning of the season that some of them would be part of our squad.”
Silva confirmed that he, Moshiri, the director of football, Marcel Brands, and the chairman, Bill Kenwright, decided last summer to promote young players at Everton, months after another €56.7million was squandered in the transfer market on two Sam Allardyce signings, Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun.
“Always the manager with the owner, the chairman and the sports director,” he said. “We decided because we believe they are good enough.”
The Everton manager was referring to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman, Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and €45m summer signing Richarlison, who are all yet to impose themselves consistently.