Pep Guardiola: Record-breaking run ‘nice’ but counts for nothing against Spurs

Andy Hampson, PA

Pep Guardiola claims Manchester City’s record-breaking winning run counts for nothing as the Premier League leaders come up against Tottenham this weekend.

City have won their last 15 matches in all competitions – a record for an English top-flight side – and are unbeaten in their last 22 stretching back to a 2-0 loss to Spurs in November.

Their form has taken them from mid-table after an indifferent start to the campaign to being five points clear at the top with a game in hand.

They are also through to the Carabao Cup final, the FA Cup quarter-finals and the knockout stages of the Champions League.

City manager Guardiola said: “For the statistics it is nice but statistics don’t help to win the next one. The next one is Tottenham.

“It’s nice but it is a consequence of thinking game by game. It does not help us to start 2-0 up before the start of a game. It’s helped us be where we are but no more than that.

“We have to start again tomorrow and go onto the next one.”

City looked far from being title contenders when they lost 2-0 to Spurs in November
City looked far from being title contenders when they lost 2-0 to Spurs in November (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Spurs looked the more likely title challengers after their last meeting three months ago.

The win took them to the top of the table while City, albeit with a game in hand, were left in 13th place with just three wins from eight games.

Guardiola says City’s resurgence since is down to hard work and not one specific factor.

“Maybe one day we realised we were not good enough and had to change something,” he said. “The players realised they had to do more.

“They started to win games and the second and third ones gave us a lot of confidence.

“Climbing positions in the table helped us but there was not one specific moment. Everyone made an incredible contribution – backroom staff and players – to realise we had to do better to fight for the positions in the Premier League.”

Spurs’ fortunes have headed in the opposite direction since that day and they now sit eighth in the table.

But Guardiola has not forgotten how good long-time rival Jose Mourinho’s side can be on their day.

Guardiola (left) will renew his rivalry with Jose Mourinho
Guardiola (left) will renew his rivalry with Jose Mourinho (Martin Rickett/PA)

He said: “We lost there because they were better, in many aspects, than us in that game.

“The Spurs quality showed more often than our qualities. That’s why they beat us.

“You saw the quality of their players and, of course, the manager. It is a strong team and we’ll have to do better tomorrow to beat them.”

Ruben Dias should be fit for City
Ruben Dias should be fit for City (Martin Rickett/PA)

City expect to have defender Ruben Dias back after illness forced him to miss the midweek FA Cup win at Swansea. Midfielder Rodri is also fit after limping off in the latter stages at the Liberty Stadium.

Record goalscorer Sergio Aguero continues to build up his fitness in training after a spell out with Covid-19 but the game may come too soon. Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and captain Fernandinho remain notable absentees.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Guardiola said: “Rodri trained quite good today, I think he will be available. Fernandinho is out. Ruben came back today to training.

“Sergio is in training, he made his second training session with us.

“I think except Fernandinho, Nathan (Ake) and Kevin, the rest of the first-team squad are available.”

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