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Kevin De Bruyne’s position, major Jack Grealish update, Rodri admission – Embargoed section: Pep Guardiola’s Chelsea reaction part two



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Manchester City dropped two points in the Premier League title race after they were held to a 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Saturday evening.

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for the visitors, netting for the second time against his former employers this season and handing Chelsea a deserved lead at the Etihad Stadium after a slugged start from the reigning champions.

Manchester City stepped things up a notch in the second 45 minutes, and desperately sought out an equaliser and winning goal, but would ultimately miss out on the latter after Rodri brought the side level with seven minutes of normal time remaining.

That result means that should City manage to secure victory in their game in hand with Brentford on Tuesday night, Pep Guardiola and his players would be restricted to second place and one point behind leaders Liverpool.

Speaking during part two of his post-Chelsea reaction at the Etihad on Saturday night, Pep Guardiola addressed a multitude of topics revolving around the game, as well as providing an update on the injury sustained by Jack Grealish last week.

Here is every word from the Manchester City manager!

On whether he sees Kevin De Bruyne as an option deeper in midfield

“No, he has to be in the final third. He has not to defend deeper, no. I want Kevin (De Bruyne) in the final third, it’s his talent. A huge talent is there.”

On Kevin De Bruyne passing the ball from much deeper in midfield

“Yeah but after he can attack in the final third, he can move a little bit with freedom, right and left, to make his incredible talent. But sometimes in moments you have to defend, and the role from Rodri or (Ilkay) Gundogan last season or Bernardo (Silva) this season, (Mateo) Kova(cic) this season, he (Kevin De Bruyne) has not to.”

On whether the Chelsea match was a classic example to prove his point of things looking easy when they are not

“It’s not necessary to know it. We live in that, so we are not the hierarchy from other clubs and the reality is what we have done is difficult to sustain it for a long time. That’s why I give credit when we go to Copenhagen, and still we are there and I give a lot of credit to my team, a lot.

“But my responsibility is, ‘OK, let’s go, let’s try to do it again!’ It’s not necessary in the years to come or this result that never, never in this sport, in football, in this competition, this league, with these contenders, it’s easy. It looks like for the people that is not involved in that, but it’s not. Always it’s difficult. That’s why it’s nice! If it was easy, it wouldn’t make sense. It’s necessary.”

On a win against Brentford moving Manchester City to within a point of Liverpool

“Absolutely! Winning or losing, it’s onto the next, that’s the point. Of course now it’s recovery, two days, and prepare the game against Brentford that always has been really, really tough and let’s go.”

On Jack Grealish’s injury

“It’s not that much or worse than we expected. So it will maybe be 10 days (out). Maybe it could be three weeks or a month, I think it’s less. So it’s a good news! (Got the machine fixed?) Yeah, yeah!”

On Manchester City being more resilient and can respond to setbacks

“Yeah, when we lose a game, or if we are from behind, always we make a step forward. But always in other games, always we start really well. Today it was not our best.”

On why the start may not have been good against Chelsea

“No, in general. It’s not one (reason), otherwise it’s easy and I’d change it. It’s different ones, it’s just a vibe, a team is a team. Team means everybody is involved; the build-up is not good and people in the middle there and the high-press is maybe not good and we lose a lot of duels like we lost in Stamford Bridge, and in the second-half we won them.

“There are many, many, many concepts that helps to have the tempo of the game, that against a team that is well-organised and the quality they have in all departments and the players and we know it. It’s a really good team, a brilliant future, present and future, and we knew it! We spoke about that yesterday in the press conference, with the team, that they make a little bit of a click, really good, talented players, so we know it.

“But sometimes the circumstances; playing a lot of games, travel to Copenhagen, so the rest is less, and these kind of things. But we prepared sometimes on what we need, and after when we realised, we react. It happens. As a manager I cannot expect during all the games being top, top. We were able to draw and at the end we could win, for the chances and for the proposed. In the second-half we see, ‘OK, I like this team!’ Defended well, we played really good on both sides, with a lot of crosses, chances in the five metres. And other things, it is what it is!”

On Rodri’s record over the last year for Manchester City, and whether he is fully appreciated

“He is! Well, I would say that the holding midfielder doesn’t get appreciation of the strikers and number 10s, that is good. When a holding midfielder has a lot of appreciation, it’s not good, because the holding midfielder has to play for the team; for him, and for the team, and make the team play. This is the role for the holding midfielders.

“All the highlights has to be for the guys up-front scoring goals and assists and so on. But Rodri, always, has the ability in important moments and scores goals. He’s an unbelievable player. He’s the best midfield player in the current world, by far, because he’s able to do everything; the tempo, especially his character when the situation is going wrong and he makes a step forward and arrives to the box, backwards, and the ability to play short or long, and always ready.

“What a signing! Manchester City signed a player that it’s difficult to understand what we have done in recent years without him, it would have been difficult.”

On what Julian Alvarez brings to the team to keep him in the side every game

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