EPL

Man City refused to feel sorry for themselves after Luton opener – Pep Guardiola

By Sports Desk December 10, 2023

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City refused to “feel sorry for ourselves” after going in a goal down at half-time against Luton before hitting back to claim a 2-1 Premier League triumph at Kenilworth Road.

The hosts looked on course to inflict a fifth-consecutive winless game on City when Elijah Adebayo rose at the back post to head in Andros Townsend’s cross on the stroke of the interval.

It was just reward for an opening period in which they had weathered the champions’ early pressure well, with Guardiola’s side resorting to shooting from distance after goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski had denied them with a string of fine saves, most impressively from Phil Foden’s low drive.

And Rob Edwards’ side held their lead beyond the hour mark as a stunning victory appeared within reach, until the champions turned the game on its head inside of three whirlwind minutes.

First, Bernardo Silva pounced on a loose ball to lash home an equaliser into the bottom corner before Jack Grealish stabbed between the legs of Kaminski to send Luton to their second narrow home defeat in five days.

And Guardiola said his players did not allow the prospect of losing for the second time in a week and ending the weekend seven points off the Premier League summit to distract them in the second half.

“The most important thing to change the dynamic is winning games,” he said. “That helps a lot.

“We didn’t get results sometimes when we deserved, but that’s what it is.

“Today was a good test for the fact that we played a really, really good first half against this type of team, this type of stadium. We did it perfect. We concede not much, created enough chances to score.”

City went down 1-0 away to Aston Villa on Wednesday having previously dropped points in draws with Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Victory at Luton ensured they stayed in touch with the sides above them in the table – the Reds, Villa and last season’s runners-up Arsenal – and cut the gap at the top to four points.

Guardiola admitted he had been concerned by the prospect of failing to win for a fifth game in a row when Adebayo headed Luton in front.

“I thought about that,” he said. “But I said to (the players) ‘what do we have do to, feel sorry for ourselves?’ We don’t have to feel sorry for ourselves. It’s football, it’s life, it’s happened.

“What are we going to do? Complain about being unlucky? Strikers, be more aggressive, score goals guys. Defend better the cross in the last minute and be positive.

“We have to remember ourselves. Big characters, big teams, like this team is. They are defined in these situations.

“I don’t like to see the players when we win 3-0, 4-0 in 10, 14, 15, 18 games in a row. That doesn’t define who we really are. Four games without winning – 1-0 (down) in a tough stadium.

“They don’t need to prove to me what they are capable of, because they are an extraordinary group of players and characters. But the competition demands to prove it again. It’s normal to say ‘City are not the same – it’s over’.

“Yeah, that’s nice, let them prove we want to still be there. Let’s do it. It’s so nice. We need that.”

Guardiola confirmed that top-scorer Erling Haaland, who missed the game with a stress fracture to his foot, would likely also miss the midweek trip to Belgrade to face Red Star and next weekend’s clash with Crystal Palace.

Winger Jeremy Doku was also missing against Luton.

The manager added: “Week by week will dictate how (Haaland) feels. Doku is muscular, it’s not a big issue like Kevin (De Bruyne) was.”

Luton boss Edwards reflected on disappointing result that nevertheless proved his team were moving in the right direction.

“If we continue to perform the way we have this week, we can achieve something really special this year,” he said. “I like the way the team is going. I love how hard they’re working for each other.

“I think we’re starting to change the narrative around Luton Town Football Club.”

Related items

  • Xavi urges Barcelona fans to create red-hot atmosphere for PSG clash Xavi urges Barcelona fans to create red-hot atmosphere for PSG clash

    Barcelona boss Xavi wants the atmosphere to reach “boiling point” in the return leg of his side’s Champions League tie against Paris St Germain.

    Barca hold a slender 3-2 advantage after the first leg in Paris last week as they bid to reach the semi-finals for just the second time in eight seasons since lifting the trophy in 2015.

    Building work at the Nou Camp is ongoing as part of a £1.25billion refurbishment and Xavi has called on the club’s fans to turn their temporary home at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys into a cauldron.

    He told a press conference: “We are playing at home and Montjuic (the stadium) has to be a big-night venue. It will have to be a boiling point atmosphere.

    “We need the fans because there will be tricky moments and PSG will make us work hard and so at this time we have to be united.

    “We will have to control ourselves and take the initiative, but it will be tough. PSG will come out attacking because (head coach) Luis Enrique will not sit back. I know him well and I know they will put us under a lot of pressure.

    “We are up against one of best teams in the world, one of the most intense and they won’t gift us anything, and he is one of the best coaches in the world.”

    Barca will be without captain Sergi Roberto and Andreas Christensen, who are both suspended after receiving yellow cards in Paris.

    Xavi added: “The players banned, Sergi Roberto and Christensen, hurts us, it’s true, but the key against PSG will be to play as a team.

    “If we can do it, regardless of names, we will have a great chance. We have to give it all to get to the semi-finals.”

    PSG are bidding to progress to the last four for just the fourth time in their history and Enrique backed his side to come out on top.

    The former Spain and Barcelona boss, who is boosted by the return of Morocco international Achraf Hakimi from suspension, told a press conference: “We are absolutely convinced that we will reverse the situation.

    “Having assessed the (first leg) closely, we didn’t deserve to lose. A draw would have been a fair result, or we should have been the winner, but we accept it. We congratulate our opponents.

    “But tomorrow our goal is to turn in a great performance, be brave and go for it from the first minute to make our fans happy, because that is what we all deserve.”

  • Premier League seeks ‘urgent’ resolution to Everton appeal before end of season Premier League seeks ‘urgent’ resolution to Everton appeal before end of season

    The Premier League says it will seek to ensure the outcome of Everton’s appeal against a two-point penalty imposed earlier this month is known before the last round of top-flight games on May 19.

    Everton were docked points by an independent commission last week for an admitted breach of top-flight profitability and sustainability rules (PSR), and have now formally lodged an appeal.

    It means PSR appeal processes involving Everton and Nottingham Forest, who sit just above the Premier League relegation zone in 16th and 17th respectively, are ongoing.

    Forest’s hearing against a four-point PSR sanction is understood to have been scheduled in the week beginning April 22, and the league has now indicated it will do all it can to ensure Everton’s appeal outcome is known heading into the final round of matches.

    “Everton Football Club has appealed (against) the decision of an independent commission to impose a two-point deduction on the club following its admission of a breach of the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules,” a league statement read.

    “An appeal board has been appointed to hear the case after the club lodged the appeal to the chair of the judicial panel today. The case will be heard on an expedited basis, in accordance with the league’s standard directions.

    “For clarity and certainty for all clubs and fans, the Premier League will be seeking to have the appeal resolved urgently with the outcome confirmed in advance of Sunday May 19, the last day of this season.”

    The league’s standard directions were agreed by clubs at last summer’s Premier League annual general meeting, and their purpose is to ensure PSR case outcomes are known in the same season as any charge is laid, and before Premier League ‘shares’ change hands between relegated clubs and those coming up from the Championship.

    Everton admitted breaching the permitted loss threshold under the PSR by £16.6million for the assessment period ending with the 2022-23 season.

    The independent commission which imposed the sanction disclosed in the written reasons for its decision that the Premier League had initially sought a five-point penalty.

    This was reduced to two by the commission, after mitigation was taken into account – notably it felt the club were being punished twice in the same overlapping period. In February Everton had a 10-point penalty for an earlier PSR breach, up to the end of the 2021-22 season, reduced to six on appeal.

    Everton will now be aiming to achieve a further reduction to the two-point penalty via the latest appeal.

    The commission which issued the two-point penalty will also hold a separate hearing to settle a dispute between the club and the league around costs which Everton contend are associated to the construction of their new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

    This dispute is not covered by the standard directions, so any sanction imposed in relation to that matter would almost certainly apply next season.

  • Scotland midfielder Lewis Ferguson out of Euro 2024 with serious knee injury Scotland midfielder Lewis Ferguson out of Euro 2024 with serious knee injury

    Scotland midfielder Lewis Ferguson is out of Euro 2024 after suffering a serious knee injury.

    Bologna confirmed their captain had suffered cruciate ligament damage, an injury which is likely to keep him on the sidelines for the bulk if not all of the remainder of 2024.

    A statement from the Serie A club read: “Lewis Ferguson today underwent a medical examination which revealed that he has sustained an injury to his cruciate ligament.

    “He will undergo an operation, after which his recovery time will be assessed.”

    The 24-year-old went off injured during his side’s goalless draw with Monza on Sunday, which kept them in fourth place and on course for a Champions League spot.

    The former Hamilton and Aberdeen player has been a crucial part of their impressive season and had been linked with summer moves to the likes of Juventus and Napoli in recent months.

    Ferguson is yet to start a competitive game for his country and 10 of his 12 caps have been won from the bench, but his form had been putting him well in contention to feature heavily during this summer’s tournament in Germany.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.