Sunday, March 3, 2024

Pep Guardiola wary of ‘exceptional’ Ivan Toney as Manchester City face Brentford

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Feb 2024

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Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are coming up against an “exceptional player” in Ivan Toney as they travel to Brentford on Monday.

Toney, who scored twice when the Bees won at the Etihad Stadium last season, recently returned to action after serving an eight-month ban for breaching betting regulations.

The 27-year-old forward has struck in both appearances since completing his suspension and Guardiola is pleased to see such talent back on the field.

The City manager said: “He’s an exceptional player. Not just with the long balls, with keeping (the ball) and set-pieces, with the penalties as a guarantee.

“For many things they can link with him and he’s an extraordinary player.

“I’m so happy he is back and hopefully that period is forgotten in his life and for his family. Exceptional players always are more than welcome in the Premier League.”

Brentford beat champions City home and away in the Premier League last season.

The Toney-inspired first of those victories came in the final game before the World Cup break, as City endured an indifferent spell in the autumn.

The second, at the Gtech Community Stadium, was on the last day of the campaign as City, having already wrapped up the title, were preparing for the FA Cup and Champions League finals.

Nevertheless, Guardiola sees them as a serious threat as City look to maintain their recent momentum after eight successive wins.

He said: “We know in the past how difficult they have been. Even when we won it was always tight and we lost the two games we played last season.

“So we know the difficulty for the way they play, the standards that they have. They are clear and they believe it and they apply really well.

“It’s another game to face, a new challenge.”

City have a full-strength squad available with defender Manuel Akanji back in contention after a knee injury.

Erling Haaland could make his first start in two months after returning from a foot problem as a substitute against Burnley in midweek.

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