'We forgot how to play,' laments Pep Guardiola after Manchester City fail to capitalise on lead at Arsenal

Jack Pitt-Brooke
The Independent
Pep Guardiola speaks to Mesut Ozil after the final whistle: Getty
Pep Guardiola speaks to Mesut Ozil after the final whistle: Getty

Pep Guardiola said that his Manchester City side “forgot to play” after twice taking the lead against Arsenal but slipping to a 2-2 draw.

City were 1-0 and 2-1 up but never took full control of the game and twice allowed Arsenal back into it. The result leaves them 11 points behind league leaders Chelsea and Guardiola was clearly disappointed with his players’ performance in his post-match press conference.

Asked whether he was happy with City’s performance, Guardiola was clear: “Not [over] 90 minutes. After the first half, we scored a goal, we forgot a little bit to play. We are here to play with the ball, a desire to take the ball and play. And we miss a little bit, forgot a little bit to do that. We missed easy balls, and when you do that you cannot control the ball.”

Guardiola has a very clear idea of how he wants City to play and he said that today they failed to put that into action. “I am happy as a manager when we play as I would like to see my team play,” he said. “I like when my teams play with the ball. Of course they have to run, but I like when they have the personality to play. In some moments we didn’t do that.”

But Guardiola insisted that it was ultimately his failing and that his responsibility was to teach his players to play his way. “I want the ball, I want the ball, I want to play,” he said. “That is what I can control, and I have to improve as a manger to convince the players to do that.”

There was an interesting insight into City’s mentality from their manager, who said that they were happier when reacting to adversity than when they were on top in the game. City took their feet off the gas when they were ahead twice, and Guardiola said they play their best when their backs are against the wall.

“We play better when the team is down,” Guardiola explained. “When the team is down we react because everything is lost, and we react in a good, good way. To handle a situation at 1-0, we are not comfortable, not yet. But we will be better, we will improve in the future about that.”

Guardiola was frustrated that Manchester City did not get a late penalty after the ball touched Nacho Monreal’s hand, and said that Monreal himself had admitted he had handled the ball.

“Monreal said he touched the ball with his hand,” Guardiola revealed. “But he said to me that in England in that kind of situation there is no whistle. I said to the referee that the same happened against Tottenham, the same referee. I don’t come here to talk about the referees. But of course, if Monreal said it.”

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