Pep Guardiola warned Manchester City “must be careful” against Watford as the Spaniard hailed the career of Hornets manager Claudio Ranieri.
City are a point behind leaders Chelsea after 14 games following the 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa on Wednesday, while Thomas Tuchel’s side edged past the champions’ next opponents.
Ranieri’s side crushed Manchester United 4-1 at home in late November, though, and Guardiola insisted his side must be cautious against the strugglers despite winning their last six games across all competitions.
“I know what [Watford] want to do, and what they do, they do really well,” Guardiola told reporters at Friday’s pre-match news conference.
“Against United they played well, against Chelsea they did a really good game. They are close results.
“Against Leicester they lost but had more chances. Every game is there. We have to be careful tomorrow and do another good performance.”
Guardiola, who has won all nine meetings with Watford across all competitions by an aggregate score of 39-3, also hailed his opposite number Ranieri for his work in football.
“Football has to be grateful to still live with important people like Claudio Ranieri,” he added. “What he has done in his career is amazing, Leicester is the benchmark.
“[He’s worked] in Spain, Italy, France – I admire this type of person. What they have done, have the passion, energy to go there.
“When they lost against Liverpool, the press conference after…the confidence he showed, I would be depressed. The first game to lose the way I lose and go there [to say], ‘Follow me, we are going to win’.
“I admire a lot still they have this passion, this energy. It will be a pleasure to see him again, I know the results against him always aren’t good.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 3, 2021
Rodri, along with Bernardo Silva – who has four goals in his last seven league games, as many as his previous 55 in the competition – has been a standout performer for City.
The former Barcelona head coach, whose side have won more Premier League away games (72) than any other side since his first season in charge, noted the Spain international’s performances as he again credited Silva.
Asked about Silva’s recent showings after he claimed the Portugal international was a class above, Guardiola said: “Take a video in Anfield, in Stamford Bridge, in the last game. You will know it.
“It’s no secret. We have no top scorer upfront who creates something out of nothing. We have to do it as a team, it’s good everyone is involved and has the permission to score goals. I never said in my career, ‘Don’t score a goal.’ They have the feeling to go and try.
“Rodri is 23, 24. Everything is a process. Last season he played good, maybe the last part of the season drop a little bit but we gave him more minutes last season. You have to be careful this season.
“The fact we are out of the EFL Cup is good for that. He is playing at an extraordinary level, the consistency.
“He has to be [number] seven or an eight [in terms of position] all the time, he cannot be three or four because it destroys the team, he cannot be 10 because 10 is for the strikers. He is playing consistently, defensively, offensively.”
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