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“He deserves it” – Pep Guardiola defends Julian Alvarez selection decision amid recent criticism



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has defended his decision to continually select Julian Alvarez in midfield.

The 24-year-old has been subject to criticism in recent weeks despite being directly involved in 25 goals in 35 appearances so far this season, netting in the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Emirates FA Cup for Manchester City.

Alvarez, who predominately plays as a striker, moved into an advanced midfield position for Pep Guardiola’s side in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, with the Belgian only recently returning from hamstring surgery.

The Argentinian forward was replaced by Bernardo Silva during Manchester City’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening, as Rodri’s 83rd minute strike salvaged a point for the Sky Blues.

City created 31 attempts against Chelsea but were unable to find a winning goal, with Guardiola’s side faltering in pursuit of both Liverpool and Arsenal during the Premier League title race.

The Blues can move ahead of Arsenal and to within one point of Liverpool with a win over Brentford on Tuesday evening, although a draw against Chelsea has prevented Manchester City from having the chance to move to the top of the table in midweek.

Saturday’s result was City’s second successive draw against Mauricio Pochettino’s side, after a 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge in November.

Alvarez started both games against Chelsea and has been handed 30 starts across all competitions so far this season, stepping up in the absence of both De Bruyne and Erling Haaland.

Speaking after Saturday’s draw, Guardiola defended the selection of the forward, despite critics questioning the choice not to start either Mateo Kovacic or Matheus Nunes in the role.

“He’s a guy with a sense of goal,” said Guardiola.

“[Alvarez’s] movements between lines and we have another guy when the teams defend so, so deep and it happens quite often, we have a guy with a sense of goal which is important.

“And I think he plays because he deserves it and in the absence of Erling (Haaland) for two months he was a key, key point with Phil (Foden). Yeah really good in that terms.”

Manchester City face Brentford in the Premier League on Tuesday evening, prior to matches against Bournemouth and Luton Town before a crucial clash against Manchester United on Sunday 3rd March.

Alvarez has previously scored against Bournemouth, but hasn’t netted in a Manchester derby to date.