Sport Soccer

Sunday 25 February 2018

Pep Guardiola keen to move on from Sergio Aguero's red card against Chelsea

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (right) was sent off for a bad tackle on Chelsea defender David Luiz
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (right) was sent off for a bad tackle on Chelsea defender David Luiz

Pep Guardiola will not dwell on top scorer Sergio Aguero's potentially damaging dismissal against Chelsea.

City's star striker is facing a four-match ban after being sent off for a wild tackle on David Luiz in the closing moments of Saturday's 3-1 loss at the Etihad Stadium.

Aguero jumped in late and high on the Chelsea defender, sparking a mass brawl on the touchline involving players and staff of both sides.

Midfielder Fernandinho was also sent off as emotions boiled over and, with Nicolas Otamendi having earlier collected his fifth booking of the season, City will suffer due to suspensions in the coming weeks.

The absence of Aguero, who has scored 16 goals this season, could be felt particularly keenly with games against Leicester, Watford, Arsenal and Hull before the Argentinian's potential return at Liverpool on New Year's Eve.

But manager Guardiola said: "He is sent off. We are going to accept the ban and keep going."

The weekend result left City four points behind leaders Chelsea and facing some soul-searching after allowing a game they dominated for an hour to slip away.

City created numerous chances but found the net only through a Gary Cahill own goal. Kevin De Bruyne was guilty of the worst miss, crashing a close-range shot against the bar in front of an open goal.

The game changed after an equaliser from Diego Costa and City's defensive vulnerabilities were exposed as Willian and Eden Hazard secured victory.

Despite that, Guardiola was pleased with the performance and claimed his team had returned to their early-season form.

He said: "I am more satisfied with the way we played than the last two games away when we won and we were happy (only) because we won.

"In that moment there was a worry. I said the players, 'Guys we have to start to play better, like in the beginning of the season. Be free in your mind, play, take the ball, be aggressive with the ball. It doesn't matter what happens, play in attack'.

"They did it, and did it I think quite well, but we didn't win, so we always have something to improve.

"In football at that level you cannot expect to have 15-20 chances, it is impossible, but we had a lot. The problem is you have to put the ball inside (the goal)."

Guardiola again played a three-man defence but denied the system or the personnel - in this case John Stones, Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov - were flawed.

He said: "We didn't lose for defensive problems, if you analyse it.

"I have always believed in my career we concede few goals because we dominate through the ball possession, creating chances and playing far away.

"We can insist on playing better and better and when we play better we will concede fewer chances and we will score more goals. But Chelsea are clinical, they are so good."

Press Association

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