Pep Guardiola remained positive following a disappointing 1-1 draw against Everton at the Etihad, stating he is still ‘optimistic’ about the title race.
It was two points dropped for Man City, as a desperate Everton earned a much-needed point thanks to a battling performance from Frank Lampard’s team and a super strike from Demarai Gray.
Erling Haaland had an enthralling individual battle with Ben Godfrey, with tensions bubbling under the surface throughout after he was clattered by the defender in the early moments of the game.
Haaland opened the scoring for City in the 24th minute, converting an excellent low cross by Riyad Mahrez.
It seemed after his goal that the Premier League champions would add to their lead after dominating much of the first half, but fantastic fighting performances from Everton’s defenders scuppered their plans.
In the second half, Everton looked more of a threat on the counterattack and found the equaliser thanks to a wondergoal by Gray. The winger beat Ederson with a fantastic right-footed strike, finding the top corner.
City came extremely close to clinching the three points in the dying seconds of the game after Rodri missed a header at the back post in the last chance of the match.
Guardiola upbeat despite damaging draw
City will go seven points behind Arsenal in the table should the Gunners beat Brighton this evening, and yet, Guardiola was surprisingly positive about his team’s performance, despite dropping two big points.
Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, Guardiola said: “Great game. We played really good in the last three games and it makes me feel optimistic.
“Dropping points at home is always tough but I’m always trying to make our game good and we have continued to do it.
“I would say they had eight in the back. In that situation, it’s movement and attacking at the right moment. In general, we did it.
“We didn’t allow them transitions. They made a fantastic goal and when that happens you say congratulations but in general, we did really well.”
When speaking about Erling Haaland’s battle with Ben Godfrey, he added: “Well, I think it was the first kick of the game [when Godfrey fouled him]. After [Haaland] played with a good energy. I was happy. I am always happy with my players.”
Despite his comments, Guardiola will know very well that they now have a huge challenge on their hands in catching Arsenal.
John Stones baffled by inability to beat Everton
City defender John Stones was more openly frustrated with the result, suggesting that they deserved to take the three points after dominating the match.
Speaking to Premier League Productions, the centre-half said: “I don’t really know what to say.
“I feel like we’ve lost two points. That’s football. We controlled the game for the majority of the time and had a lot of chances but couldn’t seem to get that goal.
“It’s difficult to take after the game. We showed great character to keep fighting and pushing. It was a bit of a scrappy game.
“I’m very pleased with how we played. The result doesn’t reflect that. When the game is so disrupted, a lot of time-wasting, that was part of the plan and we had to deal with that. We did and kept creating chances but it didn’t come off. We have to take the positives.
“We had to go for it after that and go for as many players high up the pitch as possible. We definitely did that and had some great chances to win the game at the end. At the other end, it gets overshadowed how we defended.
“We conceded two shots all game but it’s overlooked because of that incredible goal. On reflection we’ll be more positive when we look back I’m sure.”
With it looking likely there will be a seven-point gap between City and Arsenal at the top of the table this evening, Guardiola’s team will be desperate to respond in their huge match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next week.
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