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January 21, 2020

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Guardiola targets second place

Manchester City will target second place in the English Premier League and focus on cup competitions with unbeaten league leader Liverpool too far ahead to reel in, manager Pep Guardiola said yesterday.

Defending league champion City is 16 points behind Liverpool — which has a game in hand — and Guardiola said he could not afford to be distracted by Juergen Klopp’s side which has recorded the best run of form in EPL history.

“We cannot deny that Liverpool are extraordinary in terms of football and results,” Guardiola told reporters. “Every day I live almost 24 hours thinking about what we’re doing and what we can do better so I am not distracted by other teams and leagues.

“(Our target is) to finish second, to improve every day and for the knockout games in the other competitions we have. There always needs to be something exciting to keep going and improve.

“You cannot play good games in the knockout competitions if you are not running well in the Premier League. It is not that you are good one day and bad in another. You have to maintain your standards.”

City travels to Sheffield United today but Guardiola confirmed they will be without defenders John Stones and Benjamin Mendy. “John had a problem with the last action (in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace),” the coach added. “Mendy has some muscular fatigue and the others are ok.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta kept his transfer cards close to his chest and said yesterday that the club was not close to signing new players in the January transfer window.

The north London side has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain left back Layvin Kurzawa in the past week but Arteta said there was “a possibility” that the club could go without singing anyone in this window.

“Things haven’t moved at all since the weekend,” Arteta told reporters when asked about potential transfers. “There is nothing new to say about any deals or players. When we have more info, we’ll let you know.

“The players we want to bring in have to be players who are going to help us and make a difference in the squad. It’s not for the sake of just bringing in players.”

Arsenal, 10th, has won only one EPL game in six since Arteta took charge while four draws have seen the north London side fall further away from the top four but the Spaniard is positive his squad is slowly imbibing his philosophy.

“A lot of things have happened and it feels longer than a month,” Arteta added ahead of today’s trip to Chelsea. “Yes, a lot of things changed, a lot of positives in terms of reactions and the things they are taking on board.

“In terms of results it could have been a little bit different, I think we have been very unlucky and other aspects have influenced that. The feedback I’m getting is very positive. When we don’t win they know the reasons why.”

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, meanwhile, said there was “nothing imminent” with respect to bringing in new players this month but did not brush aside rumors linking PSG striker Edinson Cavani with the London outfit.

The French side’s sporting director Leonardo Araujo revealed on Sunday that Cavani, who lost his place in the starting lineup to Mauro Icardi, had asked to leave the Ligue 1 club.

“He’s a great player, I played against him and I always loved his mentality and his attitude. His goal-scoring record speaks for itself,” Lampard said. “I’m not absolutely aware of what the situation is, so we’ll see.

“He’s an experienced player but so are many other players out there. We are young as a squad so the idea of bringing in experience is not something I’m looking away from. Sometimes the younger players need a bit of help.”


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