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Guardiola urges City to maintain goal blitz


Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola challenged his Manchester City stars to keep firing on all cylinders as they look to maintain their position on top of the Premier League.

Guardiola’s side moved ahead of Manchester United on goal difference with a 5-0 demolition of lowly Crystal Palace at Eastlands on Saturday.

City have now scored 16 times in their last three top-flight games, but Guardiola is demanding more from his players after they struggled to turn their dominance into goals in the first half.

“Nobody went to take the ball and start to play, so it’s five or 10 seconds before someone moves and takes the ball,” he said.

“When that happens, everything is slow. The ball boys were slow, everybody was slow.

“We have to be creative and provoke the situations and we didn’t for most of the time in the first half.”

City’s performance after the break pleased Guardiola more and was closer to what he’s demanding of his team for the visit of Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday.

“I know Shakhtar very well from my period in Barcelona and Bayern Munich, we played a lot of times,” he said.

“They were able to beat one of the best teams in the world right now, playing football against Napoli.

“We cannot get distracted because in the Champions League group we need to be careful.”

Guardiola is calling on City fans to turn out in force for that fixture despite their frosty relationship with the competition and UEFA.

“We need our fans, hopefully they can come. I know they have more problems in the Champions League,” said Guardiola.

“In the Champions League, you are in real trouble if you have one step back.

“If we can win, we’ll take a huge step to be in the knockout round in February.

“Hopefully we can learn from what we didn’t do well (against Crystal Palace) and play, win the game, and go with confidence to our game in Chelsea.”

– Headache –

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson is bracing himself for a tough few weeks.

With games against Manchester United and Chelsea on the horizon, the former England manager is aware his team could be in deep trouble, as they’re still yet to earn a point or score a goal in the Premier League this season.

“We’ve got to accept that we’ve been given a headache and during the course of the week we’ve got to try and find the aspirins that will ease the headache,” he said.

“We’ve got to keep working on the things we’ve been working on because, unfortunately, there’s a risk that Man United and Chelsea would also be as capable as Man City have been of punishing us if we don’t get things right.”

Hodgson has previously saved Fulham when they looked doomed to relegation in 2008, taking nine points from his final three games.

“It’s an equal challenge without a shadow of a doubt, but the difference is when I came in to Fulham there were 18 games to play,” he added.

“Here we’ve still got 32 games to play, so a lot of things can change.

“It’s unlucky after a bad start of no points from five games that you run up against teams of this quality, so it’s a baptism of fire.

“We have to make certain that we don’t start panicking and start accepting that we’re in a hopeless position at the end of September because the remaining months can change so many things.”

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