Pep Guardiola says Manchester City’s 2-1 win at Huddersfield gave him more satisfaction than other more high-profile victories because of the way they fought back in adversity.
City secured an 11th successive league win, equalling a club record, and an 18th straight victory in all competitions after coming from a goal down at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday.
Nicolas Otamendi’s own goal gave Huddersfield a half-time lead, but Sergio Aguero equalised with a penalty before Raheem Sterling’s lucky finish, for his 12th goal of the season, won the match in the closing minutes.
City are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League and have enjoyed some big victories this season, notably beating Stoke 7-2, Watford 6-0 and both Liverpool and Crystal Palace 5-0.
Guardiola, though, ranked the win at Huddersfield above all of those when asked, arguing that the test they faced in west Yorkshire will benefit them much more than bigger victories have done.
“Definitely. They were the same words I said in the locker room after the game. We need to win those kinds of games in that way. That is so important,” he said.
“When you win well, people are happier and say nice words, but that is not reality at the high level of the sport.
“In a high level when you have one week’s rest and have time to prepare, you can score goals. But normally, that can’t happen a lot of times.
“I cannot remember one team, not (Manchester) United with Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsenal with Arsene Wenger, who won all the leagues with 4-0 and 5-0 wins all the time. It is impossible.
“You have to suffer and in the last month, we didn’t feel that.
“It’s so important to live that situation and be able to win the game. We make an outstanding performance in all sense.”
Sterling has now beaten his previous record for goals in a season – having never managed more than 11 in a campaign before.
– Room for improvement –
Guardiola is delighted that the winger, who also won the penalty from which Aguero scored, is proving so prolific, but still believes there is more room for improvement.
“He is young, he can still improve but now he is a winning player, he is winning games,” he said.
“Before he made good actions but now he wins games. We are in November and already he has made a record.
“He has improved, but not just in terms of goals. He is strong. Before, he lost a lot of balls.
“He keeps it much better now. When he is one on one, he provokes fouls. I think the penalty is more than clear.
“I am impressed but still he is 22 years old. He can still improve. He can learn and we will be there to help him.”
Huddersfield boss David Wagner was proud of the way his team, promoted from the Championship via the play-offs in May, acquitted themselves against opponents widely expected to win the Premier League this season.
“Where should I start? I am disappointed because of the result. But I am happy because of the defensive performance, the attitude, the desire, the passion, the emotion the players have shown,” he said.
“At the end, I think it makes total sense to take the positives out of this game.
“We defended well against the best team in the Premier League.”
Wagner declined to comment on the red card shown to winger Rajiv van La Parra at full-time for pushing Leroy Sane in the face, saying that he had not seen a replay of the incident on television.
However, he had no complaints about the penalty awarded against his team for Scott Malone’s foul on Sterling.
“No,” he said. “I think it was holding.”
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