Pep Guardiola thanked his Manchester City players for sticking with him after a vital Premier League comeback win at home to Leicester City.
Guardiola’s preparations for Saturday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium were disrupted by the departure of his assistant Mikel Arteta, who left the club to take charge at Arsenal.
Arteta was part of the backroom staff that has led City to two highly impressive Premier League title successes but they won 3-1 against the Foxes in their first game without the 37-year-old.
Riyad Mahrez struck against his old club to cancel out Jamie Vardy’s opener with Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty and a close-range Gabriel Jesus finish wrapping up a fourth straight win in all competitions.
Guardiola, who has confirmed he will not immediately seek a replacement for Arteta on his staff, was grateful for a high-class display from his side.
“We made an incredible performance with the ball and without the ball,” Guardiola told a news conference.
“Having Vardy there is always dangerous, but we were always at a high, high level.
“Thank you so much to the players for following me. We try and convince the players this is the team we want to be.
“Against a team like Leicester we scored three goals and we could have scored more. That means a lot for the quality and mentality.”
250 – Manchester City have won 250 Premier League games in the 2010s – in English top-flight history, only Manchester United have won more league games in a single decade (255 in 2000s). Powerful. pic.twitter.com/Wj4nh0nSJg
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 21, 2019
Kevin De Bruyne set up Jesus for City’s clincher and Guardiola was effusive in his praise for the team’s talisman, as well as former Foxes forward Mahrez.
“We don’t have doubts about Kevin,” Guardiola added. “We cannot expect him to win the game every three days for us.
“It’s not just with the ball, it’s without. He has everything. We want to play good, help Riyad be clinical. We have to make a fluent attack and today we did.”
Although Leicester are still in second spot, a point ahead of City, Rodgers accepted his side were outplayed at the Etihad as they slipped to a first defeat in the league since October.
“They are an exceptional team,” Rodgers told reporters.
“I am a big admirer of Pep for many years, a follower of his and that Barcelona methodology. The work he has done here is incredible.”
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