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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Pep Guardiola more worried about Zaha than bettering his own winning record

Catalan sees his Manchester City side chase a 19th straight Premier League victory when they face Zaha's Crystal Palace on New Year's Eve

Pep Guardiola seeks a 19th successive Premier League victory when his Manchester City side face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Scott Heppell / Reuters
Pep Guardiola seeks a 19th successive Premier League victory when his Manchester City side face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Scott Heppell / Reuters

Pep Guardiola is far more interested in stopping Wilfried Zaha than bettering his own record for successive victories.

Guardiola's Manchester City are chasing a remarkable 19th straight Premier League victory as they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on New Year's Eve.

Their winning streak is already a record for all English league football but one more victory would see City equal the 19 in a row Guardiola achieved while in charge of Bayern Munich in 2013/14.

"I'm not here to comment on the record," said the City manager. "It's simple to say, 'Yes or no, do we break it or not?'. That is not what counts.

"What counts is what we have to do against Palace, and what we have to do against their four amazing strikers.

"I'm really impressed with what Zaha is able to do. When he was not on the pitch, Crystal Palace were not able to win. In the first nine games, Zaha was not there, but when he came back in, the team changed.

"He is a guy who can turn the game. He's won a lot of points by himself. That's what I have to be concerned about."

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Guardiola, who also won 16 successive games as Barcelona manager, claims comparisons between this City side and his past teams are premature because no silverware has yet been won.

He said: "We cannot compare because we were there three years in Munich. It's my second season here and we haven't won one title.

"We are behind those two clubs, not just in terms of titles. We have just to be calm and focus on what we have to do on Sunday. That is my only concern."

City, whose victory at Newcastle United on Wednesday opened up a 15-point lead at the top of the table, thrashed Palace 5-0 in September.

That game was just Roy Hodgson's second in the Premier League in charge of the Eagles and left them bottom with zero points after six games.

Since then the former England manager has overseen a recovery, with Palace having taken 18 points from their last 13 games.

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Guardiola has particularly noted their ability to score crucial goals in the closing minutes.

He said: "They have this talent. It's happened many times.

"It's not, 'Oh, it was a lucky day'. No. It happened two, three, four times because they have the talent.

"It's not necessary for Crystal Palace to play at a high, high level to create the problems. At Selhurst Park, if you don't win 3-0, or have a distance of three goals, everything can happen until the end.

"I said to the players after Newcastle, 'Be ready guys and focus because we have a tough game on the 31st at Selhurst Park'. They are a team who can create a lot of things for themselves."

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