Manchester City news: Pep Guardiola praises his players for keeping up the pace with title rivals

City are just one point behind Chelsea and level with Liverpool, despite having played seven times in Europe this season

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The Independent Online

Pep Guardiola has praised his Manchester City players for staying in contention with Chelsea and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League while also competing in the Champions League.

City are third in the table – level with Liverpool and one point behind Chelsea – having also played seven times in Europe this season including qualifiers, with a midweek draw at Borussia Monchengladbach preceding Saturday’s 2-1 lunchtime victory over Burnley.

Guardiola did not criticise the Football Association for his side’s difficult fixture list, although he suggested that limited success in the Champions League for English teams in recent years was down to a busy domestic schedule.

Asked whether he thought a 12.30pm kick-off was fair on City after playing in midweek, Guardiola said: “We are not the only ones, it happens to all the teams. I’m not a guy who complains that much, believe me. It happens, what can I do? Call the federation? No. They are not going to change. What happens after in Europe with the English teams in the last decade, that is your problem. You have to analyse.

“It’s why I am so satisfied because we’ve played eight [sic] more terrible games in the Champions League than Chelsea and Liverpool and we are still there. That’s why I am so satisfied with the first part of the season, because I know how difficult it is.

“There is a little bit of regret at the dropped points when we deserved to win against Everton and Middlesbrough, against Southampton we weren’t at a good performance. But we are playing seven-eight more games in the Champions League. To go here [Burnley], Stoke City and West Brom, and still be with Liverpool and Chelsea when they don’t play in Europe, it’s good for us.”

Next up for Manchester City is a crunch league game against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, who have won seven in succession after switching to a 3-5-2 formation in early October.

Guardiola added: “Now we are going to play against the best team in the Premier League at the moment. In the past five-six weeks they have played amazing, not just clean sheets.

“The way they play, we have to discover the secret and what we can do to beat them. We have six-seven days to prepare for that game. We have to keep going and keep improving for the rest of the season.”

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