EPL

Man City players have nothing to prove, insists Guardiola

By Sports Desk September 21, 2019

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City's players have nothing to prove after they returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a record 8-0 win over Watford on Saturday.

The reigning champions slipped to a shock defeat at Norwich City last weekend but were in sumptuous form against the Hornets, racing into a five-goal lead inside the opening 18 minutes.

Three more goals in the second half gave City their biggest ever top-flight win as they closed the gap to leaders Liverpool to two points, although Jurgen Klopp's side do have a game in hand.

Some questioned City's ability to win a third consecutive title after the defeat at Carrow Road, but Guardiola believes there has been an overreaction to that loss.

He told BBC's Match of the Day: "Do you think after what these guys have done for two seasons they have to prove something?

"We listened after Norwich, but people don't understand that we can lose games. Sometimes I am surprised that former players and pundits still don't understand that."

Bernardo Silva struck the first top-flight hat-trick of his career in the win and Guardiola was full of praise for the man he describes as last season's stand-out performer.

"Bernardo was the best player last season," he added. "He was extraordinary. I don't think he needs to score three goals to get the credit he deserves."

Watford, meanwhile, remain bottom of the league with just two points from their opening six games.

Quique Sanchez Flores, who returned to the club for a second spell ahead of last weekend's draw with Arsenal, attributed the heavy loss to a litany of errors from his side.

"We made a lot of mistakes," he said. "The result is very difficult [to take], but it's the consequences of mistakes in different ways. All the goals we conceded came from different things and it's difficult to play like this against Manchester City.

"We will take the best things from the Arsenal game and try to solve all the things from this game."

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    Fred hit out at the "backward society" we live in after the Manchester United midfielder was allegedly racially abused and struck by a lighter in his team's 2-1 derby win over Manchester City.

    A City supporter appeared to make racial gestures in the direction of Fred and team-mate Jesse Lingard in Saturday's Premier League showdown at the Etihad Stadium.

    The incident happened when Fred went to take a corner in the second half, with a series of objects also being hurled towards the Brazil international.

    City released a statement to say they are working closely with Greater Manchester Police and have vowed to ban for life any supporter found guilty of racism.

    Former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred confirmed he was hit by one missile and is eager for the matter to be dealt with but does not want to give attention to the perpetrators.

    "Unfortunately we are still in a backward society," he told ESPN Brazil. "[It's a shame] we still have to live with that in 2019. 

    "On the field I didn't see anything; I only saw it in the locker room afterwards.

    "The guys showed me. [Someone] even threw a lighter and it hit me. I try not to care about that. I try to look ahead.

    "Unfortunately, this is happening in some stadiums. It happened here, it happened in Ukraine with some friends. It's sad, but we have to keep our heads up and forget about that.

    "We can't give them any attention because that's all they want. I spoke to the referee after the match, they will do something about it and that's all.

    "We are all the same regardless of skin colour, hair and gender. We came from the same place and we all go to the same place when it's all said and done."

    Fred was hailed by United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for his star performance against City, and the 26-year-old is grateful for the support he has received.

    "Thank God I have a lot of friends here in the locker room who hugged me, like Lingard," he added.

    "I don't want to think about [what happened]. I just want to move on."

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    Nicolas Otamendi pulled a goal back for City five minutes from the end, but there was to be no comeback for the reigning champions as their title hopes were dealt another blow.

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    Third-place City are now 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, who beat Bournemouth 3-0 earlier on Saturday, and travel to Arsenal for their next league outing.

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    Goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial set up victory at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with Nicolas Otamendi's late reply proving only a consolation for the champions.

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    The game was overshadowed by those second-half scenes when United had won a corner, with Fred hit after several items were thrown to the pitch, while he and team-mate Jesse Lingard appeared to be targeted by abuse.

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    The Fred incident will make the headlines, but Solskjaer was keen to highlight United's first-half display and the importance of holding on for a victory.

    "I was so happy with the way we started the game," Solskjaer said. "The way we created big chances, we looked like we could score every time we had the ball.

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