Wednesday 12 December 2018

Pep Guardiola hails players after seven-goal thrashing of Stoke

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League with their demolition of Stoke
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League with their demolition of Stoke

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hailed his side's devastating display after they thrashed Stoke 7-2 at the Etihad Stadium.

The Spaniard said it was "maybe the best performance" City had produced since he took charge at the club.

Gabriel Jesus struck twice for the Premier League leaders, while Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva were their other scorers.

The superb Kevin De Bruyne did not get on the scoresheet but provided assists for two of the goals and delivered key passes in the build-up to two others.

Asked afterwards how close his team were to being exactly what he wanted, Guardiola said: "I don't know - always you can do it better.

"But I cannot deny, today maybe was the best performance since I arrived here, for a long time.

"Except two actions (when Stoke scored just before and just after half-time to make it 3-2) - and we have to learn from that - in general we made a really good performance.

"After the international break, it is always a little bit complicated, but we did it very well. We played quick because we played simple.

"I'm very pleased because again we won, and especially with the way we won."

City were 3-0 up by the 27th minute, and Guardiola, who was able to leave Sergio Aguero as an unused substitute, added: "We spoke about that - (the need) to start good.

"These kind of games after international breaks, sometimes you take your time, and yesterday in the training session and today we spoke about that, that we had to start good and be aggressive.

"We cannot wait. We have to do our game, and we did it. We saw since the beginning the team was there.

"Everybody had a good performance. You cannot score seven goals if all the team are not good."

Regarding De Bruyne, Guardiola said: "Today he didn't score but he is a guy who is so dynamic. He is a big talent."

The Spanish boss looked particularly elated after De Bruyne played a sublime pass in the build-up to City's second goal.

And Guardiola said when asked about that: "I am a manager but I am a spectator too, so in that moment when you expect Kevin to shoot or something, but not for him to play the ball (like he did)... I think you enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it too."

Stoke's goals came via Mame Diouf's deflected strike in the 44th minute and a Kyle Walker own-goal in the 47th.

While that did make for a brief fightback, the Potters could barely get the ball for most of the contest.

Boss Mark Hughes said: "This result isn't going to define our season.

"We've come up against an exceptional City side. We've been found wanting. (But) they have got genuine world-class players. Kevin De Bruyne is head and shoulders above any player in the Premier League, in my view.

"We are an honest group, and if we are honest, it probably flattered us at 3-2."

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