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Pep Guardiola says Manchester City Premier League position not important right now

Published on: 27 January 2021

Pep Guardiola believes the Premier League title race will be a "marathon" and insists he does not look at the table despite Manchester City sitting top after their 5-0 win at West Brom.

Ilkay Gundogan's first-half double and goals from Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling eased City to victory at The Hawthorns.

City are a point ahead of Manchester United, although their rivals can reclaim top spot with victory over Sheffield United on Wednesday.

Guardiola's side are the ninth team to top the table this season but, after an 11th straight win in all competitions, the Spaniard is keeping his cool.

"The last thing I'm thinking of is the table," Guardiola said. "Now I want to come back home safely, have a few days off and Sheffield United [City's next match] is all I'm concerned about.

"We still have 19 games to go in this incredible marathon. We are going to drop points and lose games but the important thing is to be calm, like we were when we were 12th in the table and understand why we didn't win that game and immediately win the next one.

"This is all I'm concerned about now. It's the Premier League, welcome, it's so tough for everyone. You know it's competitive but we have had a good run.

"Congratulations to the team, we could not leave our box for the first two or three minutes but the rest of the game was good."

Even without the injured Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, City were never troubled at The Hawthorns. It was 3-0 after half an hour when Gundogan grabbed his second, pinching the ball from Romaine Sawyers and breezing past Dara O'Shea to score.

Mahrez added a fourth in first-half stoppage time after Sterling's searching pass. Rodri struck the bar from distance after the break and Sterling wrapped up the scoring in the 57th minute when he tapped in Mahrez's cross. It was Gundogan, however, who was singled out for special praise.

"He has always showed this level, except in the first season because he had an ACL," Guardiola added. "He has always showed an incredible personality. He is generous and a very nice guy."

Allardyce: Play to the whistle is nonsense

Sam Allardyce was not happy with the officials for City's second goal at The Hawthorns.

Cancelo made it 2-0 on 20 minutes, firing in from the edge of the box with the goal given after a VAR check.

Bernardo Silva had been incorrectly flagged offside by Sian Massey-Ellis in the build-up, meaning several West Brom defenders had stopped playing. The whistle did not go and Cancelo curled the ball home, much to Allardyce's frustration.

"Everybody stops when they see an offside flag," Allardyce said. "So all that rubbish about playing to the whistle is rubbish.

"Nobody who plays football would not stop or would carry on to thinking it is not offside. That's why the flag goes up, that's what the flag says. Anybody else who says anything else is talking nonsense."

It was another sorry night for the second-bottom Baggies, who have now conceded 22 times in their last five home games.

Allardyce has overseen four of those matches - shipping 17 without reply - and West Brom are six points from safety ahead of Saturday's showdown with drop rivals Fulham.

"A few home truths needed to be said, it had to be done now because there's a short period of time before the next game," said Allardyce, who held a dressing-room inquest for almost an hour after the game.

"These next two games [Fulham and Sheffield United] really stand high in what we need to do. I needed to get my feelings to the players out of the way. They needed to air their views, which is fine as we are all in it together.

"I was disappointed in the performance and to get it out the way means we can learn from it and we don't see it again. I can accept defeat but not like that.

"What will determine our fate comes in the next two games. A win and a draw is the least we have to try to get.

"We have got to work out what it is, playing at home. There's no pressure from the fans so we have to work out what."


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