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Friday, December 3, 2021

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Pep Guardiola makes admission about Man City gulf over Manchester United

Pep Guardiola cannot remember a bigger mismatch against a Premier League rival than the derby victory on Saturday.

During his six years in English football, Manchester City have smashed Liverpool 5-0 and 4-1, put five past Arsenal and hit Chelsea for six during a hugely successful period.

Despite finishing an average of 17 points clear of United in the table though, Guardiola has had a less than stellar record against United; he had won none of his last four league games against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since the 2019/20 season. And in 11 meetings since 2016 none of their five victories have been by more than a two-goal margin.

The latest of those came on Saturday at Old Trafford when Bernardo Silva added to an Eric Bailly own goal for a 2-0 victory, but the scoreline barely reflected the control that City had.

The 753 passes racked up by the visitors was more than a woefully passive United have conceded since such stats started being recorded in 2003, while United’s four touches in the penalty box was another all-time worst in the league; with David de Gea forced to react when Victor Lindelof turned the ball towards him. United actually had more shots on target against their own goalkeeper than they did Ederson.

Guardiola was keen not to be too harsh on his beleaguered counterpart Solskjaer after the match, beginning his response to one question about United with ‘let me be gentle’.

He did, however, reach the conclusion that his side have never dominated a rival so totally before in a verdict that is as damning for United as it is positive for City.

“Maybe this was the game that we dominated for the most time,” he said.

“Except for 10 minutes of the second half, the other 80 minutes were absolutely under control. There were other games, like the game when we could be champions at the Etihad [in 2018] when we were 2-0 up at half-time and after we lost 3-2. In the first half it could have been four or five but we lost 3-2. So, the second half we were not good.

“In some games we are good but not for as long as today, it is a game we controlled more specifically. We know each other better, we know the opponent better.

“We need the ball to play good and desire when we don’t have it, to recover it and play and play and play and play and play and play. “It’s not that you attack quicker and you will score more goals, you have to arrive in the right tempo. I love us arriving to the boxes, not being in the boxes.

“The way we play a lot of passes we are still able for Phil [Foden] to arrive and [Ilkay] Gundogan and Kevin [De Bruyne] and Gaby [Jesus] and Bernardo [Silva]. Arriving from behind is the best way to surprise the opponent and today we did it.”

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