Men's Team

Set-piece improvement has Pep's seal of approval

Pep Guardiola says he couldn’t be happier with his team’s improvement from set-pieces this season.

In the last two games, both Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have scored directly from set-piece routines and the City boss has praised the work done by his backroom staff for their efforts to help improve the team's effectiveness in this area.

Asked if he felt City were more of a threat this campaign from dead-ball situations, Pep said: “Yeah a lot - this is the best season so far for corners and free-kicks, offensively – the best.

“There are two Carlos’s (Carlos Vicens and Carles Planchart) and they are doing an incredible job in this department.

“They are so consistent and so clear.

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“But still I have the feeling we can do better with our set-piece takers.

“Phil, Riyad, Kevin, Gundo – we have to improve a little bit to put the ball on the right spot, because I believe we can be dangerous in that position.

“Our central defenders, Rodri and Fernandinho when he plays, we are strong in that department. “

The manager was asked if the players had been given extended work on set-piece routines that is being reflected on the pitch.

But he revealed much of it is down to a better understanding and communicating ideas across in team meetings.

“We take a look and just do it simple,” he said.

“At the right moments, not be too complicated. Carlos (Vicens) is a great communicator - the  meetings about set-pieces are simple, so inspired and clever and I think the players are perceiving that.

“I am more than delighted about the job Carlos has done so far.” 

Pep was also asked whether his players would have even greater focus and intensity having rested and coming into the final third of the campaign.

"It’s a long time until the big prizes,” he said.

“You can smell it, but we had an incredible January, and had a rest of one week off. 

“They came back brilliantly and then played well against Fulham. 

“They showed our principles. Tomorrow we face a team with two sides. They are so compact and it will be difficult to attack them. 

“But at the same time, we arrive now in the important part of the season and we know Liverpool will lose few, few points. 

“They showed that in the last seasons. The Champions League (is coming up), the next round of the FA Cup is soon. 

“A lot of games. And we have to prepare really well. Sporting, I am really impressed with and in Premier League we saw at Southampton that every game is difficult.”

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