Pep Guardiola has pledged to stick to his attacking instincts when Manchester City host Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.
Guardiola’s tactics during the 3-1 defeat at Monaco that saw City bow out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage on away goals came in for criticism, as lone holding midfielder Fernandinho was unable to adequately shield an exposed back four from a first-half onslaught.
FA Cup semi-finalists City lie third in the Premier League – a point and a place above a Liverpool side who have won the past four top-flight meetings between the two.
Speaking ahead of a clash that will see the Spaniard renew his respectful rivalry with former Bundesliga adversary Jurgen Klopp, ex-Bayern Munich boss Guardiola reiterated his stance that City’s second-half improvement at the Stade Louis II, where they scored through Leroy Sane, underlined the benefits of an aggressive approach
Asked whether he would be more defensive against Liverpool, Guardiola said: “No, no. Again you have to try to defend better, but I think in about 12-15 minutes of the second half in our game in Monaco we created five chances and few teams in Europe can do that.
“Chances where you arrive at the byline and with one pass you score a goal, but we missed those chances. That’s happened a lot, a lot of times.
“In the second half, Monaco created no chances [from open play] – [Tiemoue Bakayoko’s] goal, which was a set-piece, nothing else.
“The problem in Monaco was in the first half when we didn’t create. That is what worried me the most.
“In the last games in the Premier League we conceded few. We were so stable.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 17, 2017
City had kept six consecutive clean sheets in all competitions before facing Leonardo Jardim’s swashbuckling Monaco and Guardiola has been pleased with the form of John Stones.
The 22-year-old former Everton centre-back’s maiden season in Manchester has been dogged by some high-profile errors, but his manager is optimistic over the England international’s future prospects
“John Stones next season will be a better player,” he said. “The last month, month and a half John made a huge step forward, but next season will be better.
“He is so young, it is the first time he has got to Europe to play at Camp Nou and these kind of stages.
“I am delighted with his performances and how important he will be for your national team in the future.
“Of course he makes mistakes, but it is part of the process. I never saw a central defender of 21 years playing on the biggest stages who doesn’t make mistakes. It is impossible. We need to create a good environment to help him.”
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