Pep Guardiola calls for more aggression as Man City bid to improve firepower

PA

Pep Guardiola has admitted there is no magic solution to Manchester City’s struggles in front of goal as he called on his players to be more aggressive.

City’s lack of cutting edge proved costly again on Tuesday night as they were held to a 1-1 draw by West Brom despite having 26 efforts at goal, albeit only seven of them on target.

That left Guardiola’s men with 18 goals from their opening 12 league fixtures, barely half the tally of 35 they had at the same stage last season.

Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion – Premier League – Etihad Stadium

Guardiola said his side must keep attacking and trust the goals will come.

“We have to insist and insist,” he said. “There is no other way. If you have 25 shots and that’s not enough you have to create more and one day it is going to break. We have to be aggressive in this area and put more players there.

“When we are able to score goals and win games confidence will be back. The reality is we scored 40 goals in our first 12 games when we won our first title, 36 in our second and last season 35 in this stage of the season.

“This year we have 18 so we have to score more. This is the reality.”

Injuries have played a role with both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus spending time on the sidelines, but Guardiola said the responsibility was on the team as a whole.

Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion – Premier League – Etihad Stadium

“We have to play better,” Guardiola added. “We create chances but we have to play better. The only chance we have to create more is to play better.

“It is not just the responsibility of the strikers to be there. We know we have to score, everybody knows that and everybody is involved to create more clear chances.”

Aguero, recently sidelined with a knee problem, missed last weekend’s goalless Manchester derby through illness before playing the final 15 minutes against West Brom.

But his availability for Saturday’s trip to Southampton remains uncertain after a fresh setback.

“I don’t know,” Guardiola said when asked to what extent he might feature. “After the game he could not train, yesterday he could not train. He trained today and trained really well but I don’t know how many minutes (he can play).

The goals will come! 👊

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— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 18, 2020

“It is important he can make training sessions but unfortunately after the game he could not. It was nothing about the knee, it is another area.”

Saturday’s match will pit City against a side above them in the league, with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men having taken 24 points from their opening 13 games to sit third.

“They have an exceptional manager,” Guardiola said. “I know him a little bit from Germany. He was at Leipzig, bringing in the culture for Red Bull playing in a specific style.

“They have guys with experience in the back, they have one of the best midfielders in the Premier League in (Oriol) Romeu and he has a good partnership with James Ward-Prowse, an incredible taker of set-pieces.

“They have fast players up front and the success of Southampton is no surprise.”

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