Pep Guardiola has spelled out exactly how Tottenham routed his Manchester City side in a pulsating game at White Hart Lane.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men won 2-0 in north London and were in complete control against the Blues, who had won all six of their previous Premier League matches.
City had bossed many of their games in a similar manner, but Spurs handed them their first defeat of the season and left them looking helpless.
Guardiola held his hands up in his post-match television interview and admitted the Londoners were the better team, and in his press conference he explained why his players found it so difficult.
The Catalan has placed huge importance on his side’s “build-up” – he sold fan favourite Joe Hart and brought in Claudio Bravo in a bid to improve that aspect of their game – but he says Spurs stopped them from playing.
“From the beginning I didn’t feel we could make a good build-up, to play in the way we want,” he said. “Every time we contact behind their high press we created situations to create problems, but we had our problems [too].
“In our pressing… we put long balls but they won the second balls, we won the ball but they won the second balls, and we had problems in that, [so] we had to go backwards. It was a little bit difficult in that sense, to control.
“The long balls, with the second ones, they won every fight. When you lose the first game, the reaction is to say, ‘Ah we didn’t run, we didn’t fight’, but it’s not about that, because these guys want to do that. It’s not about because they didn’t try.
“It’s because when you are not properly in the pitch, when you’re not in the right position, when you attack, when you defend, this kind of thing can happen.”
Guardiola also refused to use fatigue as an excuse following their bruising 3-3 draw with Celtic in midweek.
Tottenham recorded a 1-0 victory in Moscow 24 hours before City took to the field in Glasgow, and the Blues boss has told his players to get used to the workload.
“I don’t know,” he replied if the midweek game hampered their performance at White Hart Lane, although he would go on to change his mind. “If they want to achieve at that level, to compete all season, you have to be used to playing every three, four days.
“They [Spurs] have one more day. Sometimes we have one day more than the opponent. The schedule is the schedule. I can’t control that. I don’t think [it was a factor]. They were better. It’s as simple as that.”
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