Pep Guardiola fires Liverpool Istanbul warning to Man City squad

Pep Guardiola reviews Bournemouth win

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Pep Guardiola has warned his troops about football’s ability to ‘punch you in the face’ just when you think things are going swimmingly. Manchester City returned to form in ominous fashion on the south coast as they bounced back from their recent wobbles, which saw them drop four points from their previous four league games, by sweeping aside struggling Bournemouth.

The gap to Premier League leaders Arsenal was closed to just two points again, and in this kind of form, you would not back against City going on the kind of end-of-season run that could grind down and overtake their rivals. But Guardiola is not looking any further ahead than the next game – against Bristol City in the FA Cup.

And the Catalan pointed to one of the most spectacular footballing comebacks ever as evidence that having an experienced team is no proof against failure. City have won the title four times in the last five years, while Arsenal have not tasted that glory at all since 2004. 

But Guardiola said: “I would like to say that experience is an advantage, but I don’t know. I always put as an example to my players the Champions League final of 2005, when Liverpool played AC Milan. Liverpool made that comeback (winning the final on penalties after being 3-0 down).

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“But Milan in that period had the most experienced line-up of players I had seen in a long time – Paolo Maldini, Gennaro Gattuso, Cafu. Football, when you think everything is under control, can punch you in the face and put you back into reality.

“But when I see lately in our games how we have fought and we tried to play, that makes me feel OK, we will fight to the end. I know how good Arsenal have been, how good Manchester United have been, and Newcastle are still there. 

“We are calm. But, after winning what we have won this last few years, we still are in for three titles, and that makes me so proud.” Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Leicester earlier in the afternoon had piled the pressure back on City at the Vitality Stadium. But from minute one there was no doubting their intent.

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They were ahead after just 14 minutes, when Phil Foden’s shot was blocked, Erling Haaland’s effort came back off the bar – but there was Julian Alvarez to thump home the rebound. Then from the excellent Ilkay Gundogan’s cross, Foden – firmly back in form – got a touch, but the ball ran loose to Haaland, who smashed in goal number 27 this season.

It was three on the stroke of half-time as Bournemouth shot themselves in the foot, Philip Billing giving the ball straight to Foden, who skipped past Jack Stephens to score with ease.

The game was already way beyond Bournemouth by this stage, as Gundogan sprayed the ball about. When the Cherries failed to clear another attack, Alvarez’s shot was deflected into his own net by the hapless Chris Mepham.

There could and should have been more, but Gary O’Neil’s side to their credit never stopped battling, and they got some reward when the excellent Jordan Zemura burst forward and crossed, City could not clear, and Jefferson Lerma fired in a consolation effort. 

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