Pep Guardiola remains unconcerned by Gabriel Jesus’ struggles in front of goal, insisting the Brazilian’s all-round contribution to Manchester City is crucial.
Jesus’ winner at Southampton in the final minute of last season ensured City finished with 100 points – the 21-year-old’s campaign yielding 13 goals from 29 league appearances.
But the early months of 2018-19 have been full of toil for Jesus, who has just one Premier League strike – in a 6-1 thrashing of Huddersfield Town back in August – from nine outings.
Seven of those have been as a substitute, however, and Guardiola was deeply impressed by the striker’s showing in Thursday’s 2-0 EFL Cup win over Fulham.
“Of course he needs a goal, the strikers they live for that, but the performance was excellent,” said Guardiola ahead of Sunday’s visit of Southampton.
“A lot of movement without the ball and people don’t realise the help [that gives] to the other guys.
“He’s a guy who gave us a lot, but he’s still a young player, he can improve, he can be more calm inside the box, but he has desire and that’s why he’s extended his contract here for many years.
“We’re going to try to help him. I’m so satisfied with the way he’s playing this season, but of course strikers need a goal to be completely ‘okay, I am there’. But we are in November and many things are going to happen in the future.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 3, 2018
While City continue to dazzle with their attacking prowess, the defending champions have been almost impenetrable at the back, their tally of three goals conceded in 10 matches representing a league low.
And Guardiola, whose side have claimed five straight clean sheets in all competitions, insists defensive solidity has been a point of focus throughout his managerial career.
“It was always like this, I don’t want to be arrogant, but with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, we were always the team with less [goals] conceded,” he said. “The only difference is we defend so high, we try to convince our players here that if the ball is far from our goal we are safe.
“When it surrounds our box anything can happen. Everybody is involved, the clean sheets are important, and it’s important how few chances we concede, that shows our stability.
“In 10 years I was always focused, maybe more than on other things, on defending well. It’s impossible to score a lot and concede a lot, when this happens you are not a stable team.”
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