Tuesday, May 21, 2024

´The best winger on the planet´ – Guardiola lauds defender Gvardiol after Fulham rout

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 May 2024

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Pep Guardiola joked Manchester City have signed “the best winger on the planet” after defender Josko Gvardiol scored twice in Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of Fulham.

Centre-back Gvardiol once again operated at full-back on the left of City’s four-man defence, finding the net in either half at Craven Cottage as Guardiola’s side moved back to the Premier League summit.

His first came from a dancing run inside from Kevin De Bruyne’s dinked pass before curling a well-taken right-footed finish into the bottom-left corner.

That passage of play may have been expected from City’s attacking riches of Phil Foden, Erling Haaland or Bernardo Silva, though Gvardiol is becoming accustomed to starring at the other end of the pitch.

The Croatia international has netted five goals in his last seven games for City after not scoring in his first 32 matches across all competitions – but Guardiola is not surprised.

“The first goal, we signed the best winger on the planet,” Guardiola jested with BBC Radio Manchester. “He’s an incredible guy, can play in different positions.

“After Wolves I gave [the players] three days off, he was the only one who went to the training centre for his recovery.

“He lives for his profession. We have made an incredible signing for many, many years to come.”

Foden also scored his 25th goal of the season for City, becoming just the second English player to score 25+ in a season for the club in the Premier League era (across all competitions), after Raheem Sterling in 2018-19 (25) and 2019-20 (31).

Julian Alvarez then wrapped up proceedings with a last-gasp penalty, taking the spot-kick from Gvardiol, who passed up the chance to score a hat-trick out of respect for his team-mate.

That domination ensured City will end the day in first place for just the eighth time in 2024 – overall, this will be the 72nd day they have ended in top spot this season, behind Liverpool (87) and Arsenal (74).

Guardiola’s side are two points clear of Arsenal, who play Manchester United on Sunday, and still have a game in hand to come when visiting Tottenham on Tuesday.

The City manager told his post-match press conference: “Our dream is as we said a few weeks ago when [Arsenal] lost against Aston Villa was to arrive in the last games with it in our hands.

“We wanted to play West Ham at home with the destiny belonging to us.”

Destiny remains in City’s hands as they search for a sixth Premier League title in the last seven seasons.

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