Pep Guardiola challenged his Manchester City players to ensure that missing Harry Kane does not prove the difference in the Premier League title race after admitting that their rivals all have the luxury of having at their disposal ” specialized weapons.
City will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this midday for the first time since losing to Thomas Tuchel in the Champions League final in May, which marks the start of a difficult week for Guardiola’s men with games at away against Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool to follow.
It was Tuchel’s third consecutive victory over City as Chelsea manager, since the west London club added Romelu Lukaku to their squad following the transfer of the Belgian striker from 97, £ 5million from Inter Milan.
Guardiola is convinced that Lukaku’s arrival will make Chelsea even stronger and admits that City, having failed to sign Kane from Tottenham, do not have a prolific striker like the Belgian, Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United or Mohamed Salah from Liverpool.
City seemed to need such a player in last weekend’s goalless home draw against Southampton, but Guardiola is counting on his side to share the burden again in front of goal and make fun of the lack of a specialist n ° 9.
“I totally agree with you,” said the City manager when suggested that the best forwards could make a difference in the title race where the margins are so small.
“The strikers are strikers. They live a bit outside the team bubble and for themselves. But these are the most difficult players to take.
“We had the privilege of having Sergio [Aguero] for many years. Unfortunately, for a year and a half he had been injured and we couldn’t use much. We survived well without him in the way we played.
“There are two options that we have at the moment: to complain or to say that we have exceptional players. We don’t have that weapon that other teams like Chelsea, United, Tottenham or other teams, so we have to use what we can do as a team.
“We don’t have a player to score 25 league goals, so we have to do it as a team. That’s what we’re going to try this season.
“I’m not going to deny what a Romelu Lukaku player is. The [Chelsea] team was already so strong and with him she is now stronger. It’s a stronger team than last season, but that’s the challenge. I’m not going to say I’m sad or disappointed with the team we have.
“You won’t hear me moan for a single moment this season, complaining that we don’t have this player because… these players have taken this club to the next level and I am always fascinated by the way they are. train, their commitment and that’s enough for me.
Guardiola said he watched the Champions League final in the weeks after the game and again in preparation for today’s game (SAT) and clearly knows where City need to improve against Chelsea.
“The decision is made on the spot so I have no regrets,” he said. “We’re going to try to learn, to try to improve. We missed a bit to be more precise in the last third of the game, we lost the second balls, the transitions were so good and they were able to get the ball back and made quick transitions because their defensive structure was so good.
“They controlled all the departments and that’s why the Champions League final was so tough against an exceptional team.
“We played with courage and personality and we tried to do it but unfortunately in the long balls, the counter attacks, the second balls they were better than us and they beat us.”
By James Ducker