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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Pep Guardiola demands more creativity from Manchester City after 'slow' first half against Crystal Palace

The Premier League leaders have scored 16 goals in their past three matches, although it took until the 44th minute to break the deadlock on Sautrday.

Pep Guardiola has challenged his Manchester City players to keep firing on all cylinders as they look to maintain their position at the top of the Premier League.

Guardiola's side moved ahead of Manchester United on goal difference with a 5-0 demolition of lowly Crystal Palace at the Etihad on Saturday.

City have now scored 16 goals in their last three top-flight games, but Guardiola is demanding more from his players after they struggled to turn their dominance into goals in the first half.

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"Nobody went to take the ball and start to play, so it's five or 10 seconds before someone moves and takes the ball," he said. "When that happens, everything is slow. The ball boys were slow, everybody was slow. We have to be creative and provoke the situations and we didn't for most of the time in the first half."

City's performance after the break pleased Guardiola more and was closer to what he's demanding of his team for the visit of Shakhtar Donetsk in the Uefa Champions League on Tuesday.

"I know Shakhtar very well from my period in Barcelona and Bayern Munich, we played a lot of times," he said. "They were able to beat one of the best teams in the world right now, playing football against Napoli. We cannot get distracted because in the Champions League group we need to be careful."

Guardiola is calling on City fans to turn out in force for that fixture despite their frosty relationship with the competition and Uefa.

"We need our fans, hopefully they can come. I know they have more problems in the Champions League," said Guardiola. "In the Champions League, you are in real trouble if you have one step back. If we can win, we'll take a huge step to be in the knockout round in February.

"Hopefully we can learn from what we didn't do well (against Crystal Palace) and play, win the game, and go with confidence to our game in Chelsea."