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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Pep Guardiola says room for improvement at Manchester City despite crushing victory over Huddersfield Town

Manager proud of reigning Premier League champions' scoring rate after 3-0 win, but dissatisfied with overall performance

Raheem Sterling scored one of Manchester City's three goals during their 3-0 win against Huddersfield Town on Sunday. Carl Recine / Reuters
Raheem Sterling scored one of Manchester City's three goals during their 3-0 win against Huddersfield Town on Sunday. Carl Recine / Reuters

"We've scored a lot of goals,” Pep Guardiola said. “So far, so good.”

If, on the day, the perfectionist in the Manchester City manager was unhappy with aspects of the first-half display, there was an achievement to be celebrated.

The bare facts are that a solitary side in any of Europe’s top five leagues have a ton of goals in all competitions. City brought up the landmark in a 3-0 win at Huddersfield, becoming centurions when their closest rivals in England had 73.

If other numbers have a more immediate pertinence – and the gap to leaders Liverpool is down to four points – then City’s potency remains remarkable. By the time Leroy Sane left the field, having scored one goal and made another, he was averaging a goal or an assist every 87 minutes since the start of last season.

And yet Guardiola was not satisfied at half time. “He woke us up a bit,” Sane said.

It brought a burst of two goals in three minutes. The Catalan was still not totally satisfied. “We didn't deserve more than three goals,” he added.

“During the season you have games when maybe you are not in the top level and it is important to win. But this can teach us and show what we have to do to improve.”

City were not at their most sparkling, their most precise in possession or their most intense, but it said something they could play within themselves and score three times.

Their third, courtesy of Sane, was the classiest. Their second, from Raheem Sterling, was yet another indication of how part of Guardiola’s blueprint is for one winger to set up the other. It helps explain why they are now up to 102 goals and averaging more than three per game.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town remain rooted on 13, the fewest in England. Caretaker manager Mark Hudson made a statement by omitting both of their non-scoring strikers, Steve Mounie and Laurent Depoitre, to use winger Adama Diakhaby alone in in attack.

The summer signing headed an early chance wide and the substitute Mounie drew a diving save from Ederson with a header and skewed an injury-time effort horribly wide but defeat means Huddersfield’s last 10 games have yielded a solitary point. Their fate is becoming ever clearer.

Yet they offered resilience in the first half. Sterling was denied a penalty when brought down by Terence Kongolo. If fortune favoured Huddersfield then, it did not six minutes later.

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Pep Guardiola was not altogether happy with Manchester City's performance against Huddersfield Town on Sunday. Gareth Copley / Getty Images
Pep Guardiola was not altogether happy with Manchester City's performance against Huddersfield Town on Sunday. Gareth Copley / Getty Images

Danilo’s shot was crisply struck but seemed to be going wide. Christopher Schindler managed to redirect it with a header that took City to their milestone.

Guardiola intervened at the break.

“We adjusted some things,” he said. “The first 15 minutes [of the second half] were the best minutes.”

Sterling met Sane’s cross with a spectacular diving header before the German added the third, darting into a gap to meet a lovely cushioned header from Sergio Aguero, who was recalled in place of the in-form Gabriel Jesus. De Bruyne lent incisive passing and accurate set-pieces on just his second league start of the season.

Guardiola rested both David and Bernardo Silva at the start and Fernandinho at the end and, if not at Burton on Wednesday, bigger tests await. Guardiola added: “What we have done so far has been incredible, in the league and the Carabao Cup.”

And in their goal tally.

Updated: January 20, 2019 08:56 PM

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