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Pep Guardiola warns of long, hard winter now Manchester City aren't Invincible

Mirror logo Mirror 09/12/2018 John Cross
© Reuters

The one consolation in defeat for Pep Guardiola was being proved right.

Guardiola insists he never thought they were going to win this title unbeaten and it was only the media who were making comparisons to ­Arsenal’s Invincibles, who did it in 2004.

The Manchester City boss was gracious in defeat after his champions suffered their first Premier League loss of the season at Chelsea but did not ­appreciate a ­question about whether it was a reminder about how tough the top-flight is.

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“You don’t have to tell me how competitive this league is,” said Guardiola. “It’s you and your analysts that keep saying we are invincible, that we are perfect, how good we are and that in February we are going to win the league.

“You said that. All of you. Not the manager, not any player, not the club.

© Credits: Reuters

“What happened last ­season was because we were incredible. Incredible. But after that, when ­everybody wants to beat us, being in the position we are, playing a lot of games in the position we have, in the way we want to play, that’s much more ­important than sometimes even ­winning.”

Guardiola maintained he is only interested in being champions rather than being invincible but also knows this is a dangerous period for his ­bigger ambition of being the first City boss to maintain the title.

That is the true mark of greatness and now comes the test, ­because they suddenly look vulnerable after Chelsea showed they can be beaten and with the squad being tested to the limit.

Video: "Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says the team are not the 'Invincibles'"(The Independent)

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It was in the behind-the-scenes documentary All Or Nothing when Guardiola used the line from epic TV show Game of Thrones to warn: “Winter is coming.”

Now the fixtures are piling up, and, with them, injuries. They were already missing ­Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne here, and then David Silva limped off with a hamstring problem.

a person standing in front of a crowd © Credits: EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Last season, they bought Aymeric Laporte in January for £57million to ­bolster their defence. Maybe they might have to start thinking about doing the same next month.

Aguero is a huge miss ­as Gabriel Jesus is struggling for form and ­confidence, while ­Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane could not take chances on Saturday that Aguero surely would have finished.

a man with his mouth open © Credits: Action Images via Reuters

That was the difference ­between the teams because City dominated the first half, outclassing Chelsea. But when N’Golo Kante scored a minute before the break, it gave the home side ­something to cling to.

City just could not find a way through as Chelsea played brilliantly, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta were heroic in defence and the hosts always looked dangerous going forward with Guardiola’s men ­committed to attack.

Referee Michael Oliver was wracked with doubt after the game, desperate to view television footage to see if a Ross Barkley’s shot that led to the second goal had taken a deflection or not.

Oliver took his decision ­because he thought he heard the ball ricochet off a boot — TV pictures suggested it did not.

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Either way, Luiz headed in from Eden Hazard’s ensuing corner, leaving Guardiola deeply unhappy.

Opposite number Maurizio Sarri full of praise for a Chelsea defence which crumbled in the two previous league games against ­Tottenham and Wolves.

Sarri said: “I said before to play in the ­defensive line in some matches is easier, like in this match, because the defensive movements of the team were working very well.

“Then there are matches like in Tottenham, in which it’s impossible to play in the defensive line because the team’s defensive movements were a disaster.”

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