In Brief

Premier League: Pep Guardiola praises Man City’s ‘incredible desire’

Defending champions City return to the top ahead of clash against Chelsea

Everton 0 Manchester City 2

Goals from Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus earned Manchester City a 2-0 win away at Everton last night - a result that takes them back to the top of the Premier League table for the first time since mid-December.

The Sky Blues lead Liverpool on goal difference, and although they have played a game more than their rivals, the pressure is back for on the Reds.

Five weeks ago, Liverpool had a seven-point lead over City, but a slump in form has coincided with Pep Guardiola’s men rediscovering their mojo following their own dip at the end of last year.

“We come from champions and we are in a situation where we could have given up but it didn’t happen,” said a satisfied Guardiola, who pinpointed the 2-1 defeat of Liverpool on 3 January as decisive.

“We gave an incredible game against Liverpool. These players have shown incredible desire and performance.”

Never give up

Laporte gave City the lead on the stroke of half-time, when he headed home David Silva’s free kick. And although Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling squandered decent opportunities to double City’s advantage after the break, substitute Gabriel Jesus sealed the victory seven minutes into stoppage time.

It wasn’t a slick performance from City, but they ground out three points in a midweek game in winter, and that is often the making of a title-winning side.

“The lesson is never give up,” said Guardiola. “That is a lesson for all athletes. Try to win the games, because life can change immediately. Now we must prepare and recover well for Chelsea.”

Now for the Blues

City host Chelsea at the Etihad on Sunday (4pm, live on Sky Sports), the third tough game in a week following clashes with Arsenal and Everton - and Guardiola knows he will have to lift his players once more.

“Chelsea are an exceptional team, who have had seven days to prepare,” he said. “We have to prepare well. It really is a final for us. If we are able to take these points, it is a huge step forward.”

Guardiola said earlier this week that the title race isn’t just about City and Liverpool, and he reiterated that view last night.

“There are a lot of contenders to fight for the title and there are a lot of games to go,” he said. “We will drop points and hopefully our opponents will also. With the amount of games we have in our legs we cannot give days off, so to be this consistent means a lot.”

Taking positives

For Everton, it was was a fourth defeat in five Premier League games at Goodison Park, and manager Marco Silva expressed his frustration at the result.

“There are positives but again we didn’t take the points we want and we are working to achieve,” he said. “At the moment, bad things come too easy, we concede after 47 and 97 minutes. Just working like we did, things will change for us, I am really positive. The team showed what we must do.”

Premier League fixtures and TV guide

Saturday 9 February (3pm unless stated)
  • Fulham vs. Manchester United (12.30pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Crystal Palace vs. West Ham United 
  • Huddersfield Town vs. Arsenal 
  • Liverpool vs. AFC Bournemouth 
  • Southampton vs. Cardiff City 
  • Watford vs. Everton 
  • Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Burnley (5.30pm, live on BT Sport)
Sunday 10 February
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leicester City (1.30pm, live on Sky Sports) 
  • Manchester City vs. Chelsea (4pm, live on Sky Sports)
Monday 11th February
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Newcastle United (8pm, live on Sky Sports)

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