Pep Guardiola joked that "winter has come" after experiencing a "real Premier League game" at Huddersfield Town, where his side restored their eight-point lead at the top of the table.
Goals either side of the second half from Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling proved to be enough against a resilient home outfit.
"Winter has come"
When asked about what he told his team at half-time, minutes after going behind to a Christopher Schindler header.
“We spoke good, we spoke about needing this situation to happen. We have to live this situation, to be fighting for the Premier League title in the last five to 10 games you have to win these kinds of games. I’m not talking about win the game, enjoy the game, don’t lose the game – I’m talking about don’t give up, get positive all the time, be focused in what we have to do."
Guardiola was happy with the first half performance, and there was "minimal corrections" to address.
"There were minimal corrections from the first half because we played quite well in the first half, we created more chances than we had in the second half but that is a Premier League game so when I’ve spoken many times that we’re not going to finish unbeaten - it’s impossible. When we play a lot of games like this it’s impossible to not lose one game, but to fight to avoid that mentally and the way we want to play, it’s fantastic."
Despite the scoreline suggesting it was a struggle for three points, the City boss was intent that his side fully deserved to come out on top.
"We deserved the win, we created more chances, we dominate, we control, of course long balls portray a good header but of course it’s not easy to attack 10 players in the box when the striker is marking Fernandinho man to man. So, the gaps are almost impossible but we found them, most of the time, and that’s why I’m so, so pleased. We played a real Premier League game today and the winter has come and it’s always tough but we did it and we can continue our streak.”
Wins like these better than thrashings
The Citizens have been use to scoring multiple goals in the same match all season long, but their manager prefers hard-fought results like this one.
“Definitely, the same words I said to the locker room after the game. We need to win these kinds of games in this way because maybe we convince more that we’re able to, but whatever. That is so important because when you win sometimes other people are happier but that is not reality in the high level of sport. In the high level, when you have one week’s rest and you have time to prepare, you can score goals but that can happen a lot of the time."
Guardiola continues to shut down talk that his Manchester City side can go the whole season undefeated, even though talks grows larger and larger by each game.
"I can’t remember one team, United and Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsenal and Arséne Wenger, who can win all the leagues four, five times in a row, it’s impossible. That’s why it’s so important to live this situation and last month we didn’t feel that, and that’s why it’s so important to live this situation and of course be able to win the game because, again, we make an outstanding performance in all sense.”
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Difficult test no surprise to Guardiola
Manchester City came up against Huddersfield twice last season - the Terriers held them to a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup fifth round, however, lost 5-1 in the Etihad Stadium replay.
"No, no because we were lucky, or unlucky, to come here last season so I experienced that and only discussed that Huddersfield are able to play five, 10 minutes. I saw, for example, against Bournemouth, the first 10 minutes they were able to go 3-0 up, they had the chances. Last season in both games they play so aggressively, they jam, high pressing and it was a problem. But I saw the game against Liverpool, for example, and they played like they played today so we spoke about that.
"They are two different games and you have the handle it depending on how they play the game. Okay, you have to attack 10 players and guard against the counter-attack with down the right and left, especially with Ince as the other winger went back with Kyle [Walker]. Set pieces, long balls, second balls, this type of game – we have to handle that."
The Spanish manager reserved special praise for match-winner Raheem Sterling, who's been enjoying fine goalscoring form so far this season.
“A lot. Because he’s young, still can improve and he’s winning games – now he’s a winning player. Before, he was making good actions, but now he’s able to win games. We’re in November and he’s already broken the record [of league goals in a single season], so that is top, but not just because of goals. He’s now strong, he keeps hold of the ball, he use to lose to ball too much and now he keeps the situation much better, he provokes fouls, the penalty the more than clear – so that’s why. I’m impressed but he’s still 22 years old, I think, so there’s lots of things to improve and we’ll be there to help him.”