Men's Team

Pep: Off the ball pressure key for City

Pep: Off the ball pressure key for City
Boss Pep Guardiola reckons the victory over Spurs owed as much to City's tireless work without the ball as the brilliance on it.

City moved 21 points clear of Spurs with this win thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling (2) at the Etihad Stadium.

The Blues enjoyed 53 per cent of possession - significantly less than usual - but every member of Guardiola's team chased, harried and pressed when the visitors had the ball.

A key moment of the game was De Bruyne's second goal, which arrived in scintillating fashion just moments after the Belgian ace had picked himself up from a bruising challenge from Dele Alli.

But although De Bruyne's blistering left-footed finish brought the house down, it was the midfielder's work-rate that had Pep purring in the post-match press briefing.

He said: "I can just say thank you to all my players, especially Kevin. He is one of the most talented players and you see how he runs without the ball.

"He's a good example for the young players, for our Academy, for Phil Foden, for Brahim Diaz, for the young players. They know how good De Bruyne is, and when they see how he runs and fights without the ball, that is the best example.

"He helps us to be a better Club for the future. His performance today - I have no words to describe. With the ball so many assists, shift plays, all the time he was playing with his head, and overall without the ball he was able to pressurise the goalkeeper.

"When that happens the people who are behind him feel they have to run like him. And after that a team like Tottenham, who are able to play so well, we minimised their situations."

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The result was, incredibly, our 16th consecutive Premier League victory, equalling the mark set by Guardiola's Barcelona team in 2011. The record for the best winning run in European top flight leagues is also held by Guardiola (19) at Bayern.

Asked what the key to such sustained success is Guardiola said: "I’m proud because I was with the three teams (this happened).

"We work a lot, the players know that. We’ll review the game tomorrow, I'll speak with the players individually and all together, to see what good we did and any mistakes. And work.

"It's happened as well because I was with three amazing clubs, Barca, Bayern and this one. All three clubs they support me, and provide outstanding players. Without that it’s impossible."

Another positive on the day was Gundogan's performance in central midfield.

The Germany ace found space to nod home the opener and was an industrious and creative presence all afternoon.

"He was really good," Guardiola added. "You know his quality, last season we missed him a lot. He has the quality to keep the ball, when he's in a good condition he runs a lot and has a sense for goal. Against a strong team he made a good performance."