Men's Team

City primed for crucial week, says Gundogan

City primed for crucial week, says Gundogan
Ilkay Gundogan believes Sunday’s return to Premier League action at home to Everton marks the start of a crucial week and potentially defining three-month period for City as we seek success on three fronts.

With the next international break not due until March, Gundogan and his colleagues are braced for an intensive few months, with City targeting silverware in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Twelve months ago during the same period, City overcame an indifferent start to the season to put together a record-breaking run of form that paved the way for our league title triumph.

Looking ahead prior to the visit of Rafa Benitez’s side at the start of a big week that also sees City host Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and West Ham in the league next weekend, Gundogan spelled out how crucial this next tranche of fixtures could prove to be.

And the German international also pointed to the example of last term as the ideal template for City to try and emulate.

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“These are the games that you have to play when you want to challenge at the top and to get the best out of yourself and the team as well,” Gundogan declared.

“These are critical weeks and in the past we have always been able to deal with them in a really good way by getting points out of these crucial weeks.

“That is still the target and the level we want to achieve.

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“It is never easy but as a football player and as someone who plays for a great club like Manchester City, you need to be ready if you want to face these kinds of challenges.

“We need to try to repeat what we did last year in that period of time.

“I think the manager appreciates that he has a lot of time to bring everyone together and hopefully we can keep the amount of injuries in the team as low as possible and then we can all go for the best possible results.

“The fact that we had this run last season just shows us how important it is. We struggled in the last season, especially in the beginning with us having all of the international breaks. We struggled to build that form.

“We lost and dropped a lot of points and, fortunately, it was not decisive for us in the title race, but it could have been.

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“That is why it was more important to stay on top this season as we knew that repeating that [poor form] would already cost us the title as the competition is bigger this season than it was in the last.

“March is the next international break and we will probably know a little more about what direction the season will go before a decisive few weeks. Until then, we are ready to give everything possible to win as much as possible.”

It promises to be a demanding as well as crucial period with City facing 11 games between now and the end of the year.

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And from his own experience, Gundogan says he is aware of how every member of the squad will have a crucial role to play as City look to share the workload.

“We are all experienced enough, we know the manager and the manager knows us," the midfielder added.

“As a player I think you have the responsibility to deal with this situation in a responsible way.

“Maybe that is because of my age but I am experienced enough to know that you can have two or three incredible games and then realistically I could have a couple of games outside the team.

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“We know the manager wants everyone on board and everyone involved. As long as everyone trains well and looks after themselves then he will give every player a chance to play.

“The opposite as well. If the player is a little down and they have maybe two not so good games, he will still be looked after and get his chance.

“The most important thing is to take care of yourself, train well and have the right mindset. The next game you will always get your chance.”

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