Manchester City vs Middlesbrough: Pep Guardiola blames attack, not defence, for failure to win

Marten de Roon scored an injury-time equaliser at the Etihad

Tim Rich
at the Etihad Stadium
Saturday 05 November 2016 19:37
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Guardiola said Aguero's miss cost City the win
Guardiola said Aguero's miss cost City the win

Pep Guardiola denied that Manchester City’s defensive frailties were responsible for a third successive failure to kill off a home game.

Marten de Roon’s stoppage-time equalise ensured that City have now drawn their last three league matches at the Etihad – against Everton, Southampton and now Middlesbrough. Guardiola’s side dominated all three games but their inability to keep a clean sheet means Manchester City have lost the leadership of the Premier League to Chelsea.

Should Arsenal and Liverpool win on Sunday, City will fall to fourth. Their only clean sheet in the league came in a 4-0 win over Bournemouth in September.

Guardiola argued that the problem was not Manchester City’s defence but the fact their forwards are not converting the swathes of chances they are creating. “Do you think it’s a problem when the opponent arrives two times in our box during a game and we arrive 10 times?” he asked.

“In all those three games we were much, much better than our opponents. Now we have to talk and analyse and it is a problem in the box but we will improve. In the second half we didn’t play like we did in the first but I think Middlesbrough had once chance at the start of the second half and one in the last minute.

“When you see all three home games, we have dropped six points and between them our opponents have arrived maybe five or six time in our box. We have attacked really well, controlled the counter-attacks and created enough, more than enough chances, to win the games but when you arrive in the last minutes at 1-0 anything can happen. If we score the second goal – the chance that Sergio Aguero had – then the game was over.”

Aguero scored again for City

Aguero, whose opener was his 150th goal for Manchester City, squandered a straightforward chance before De Roon turned the game on its head. “I had many chances today but the clearest one was where Jesus Navas pulled the ball back to me,” said the Argentine.

“It was under my feet and I had only a few seconds to decide. I need to improve on that. The Premier League is a competition where anyone can beat you. That showed today.”

For Middlesbrough it was a second, successive away point at a forbidding venue. Their last game outside Teesside had seen them draw 0-0 at Arsenal but Boro’s manager, Aitor Karanka, conceded that this point had been much harder earned. De Roon admitted that “in the first half we hardly touched the ball”.

Karanka said: “It was much more difficult here because against Arsenal we didn’t concede a goal and we created some chances but we showed Manchester City much too much respect. You cannot play the big teams and just try to defend. I said at half time that we should start playing.

“Those two matches show we can compete against two of the best teams in the world, teams who have an amazing squad. It will keep us going and make us believe in ourselves because we know how difficult the Premier League is and we know we don’t have much experience of it.”

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