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Guardiola backs flying Manchester City to keep improving

Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Friday warned the rest of the Premier League that his runaway leaders still have room to get even better.

City set a new English top-flight record on Wednesday with a 16th successive win as they beat Swansea City 4-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

They host fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and will extend their lead to 14 points with a win, as second-placed Manchester United do not play until Sunday, when they visit West Bromwich Albion.

Guardiola’s side have won countless plaudits both for their results and style of play this season, yet the Spaniard is still not completely satisfied.

“The important thing is to focus on the pitch and play better,” he said.

“I have the feeling we can do better. Much, much better.”

Guardiola has dismissed the idea that City can match Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal team of 2003-04 by going the entire Premier League season unbeaten.

He said: “That’s not going to happen. We are going to lose games. That record belongs to Arsene Wenger.

“What is happening is an exception. It’s not normal what we’ve done. We’ll try to maintain it but we are going to lose games.

“In football, it’s not possible to win every single game. I feel the players are convinced about the way we play. If you feel the players believe in you, then it’s good for the team.

“At the end we are going to draw and lose, that’s normal. That’s what has happened in football since the 19th century.”

– Kompany nearing return –

Club captain Vincent Kompany is set to be absent once again on Saturday as he recovers from his latest muscle injury.

Kompany had to come off at half-time as City won 2-1 at Manchester United last Sunday, and missed the midweek victory at Swansea.

But Guardiola is hopeful that the centre-back will be available for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at Leicester City.

“He’s much better. He has a little problem,” he said.

“I don’t know if he’ll be right for tomorrow but in the next games I hope he’ll be ready.”

City’s manager also indicated that fellow centre-back John Stones could play some part in their Christmas and New Year games as he steps up his recovery from a hamstring injury suffered during the 2-0 league win at Leicester in November.

He said: “This weekend it will be four weeks. The doctor said it would be four to six weeks so hopefully he can soon be ready.”

Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala will continue to play at the heart of defence while Kompany and Stones recover, while Guardiola considers signing another player as cover for them in January.

Guardiola, who tried and failed to sign Jonny Evans from West Brom in August, feels 20-year-old youth-team graduate Tosin Adarabioyo is too inexperienced to play there regularly if he suffers any more defensive injury setbacks.

“We don’t have many options. Tosin is still young and has to improve, and Vincent is always in the situation where he is injured,” he added.

“He fights a lot to be fit but can’t do it consistently, so we have just three (centre-backs). Maybe we need a guy in that position.

“It’s complicated. We want to take a guy for the next few years and have to be sure he’s the right guy to help us. If that doesn’t happen, then we won’t go into the market.”

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