'We have a standard to keep', says Guardiola as Man City storm back into top four

New golden FIFA badge inspires come-from-behind win against Everton at Goodison Park

By AP

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Manchester City's Portuguese midfielder  Bernardo Silva celebrates after scoring his team third goal during the match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool.- AFP
Manchester City's Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva celebrates after scoring his team third goal during the match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool.- AFP

Published: Thu 28 Dec 2023, 11:38 AM

Last updated: Thu 28 Dec 2023, 6:52 PM

Trailing 1-0 to Everton at halftime, Manchester City didn't much look like the newly crowned Club World Cup champion despite the new golden FIFA badge on the front of the players' shirts.

But Pep Guardiola had a simple message to his players at the break.

“The manager (told us) at halftime to just keep believing, we haven’t got this badge for no reason,” City midfielder Phil Foden said. "In the second half, yeah, wow, I think we blew them away with the way we played.”

Foden started the comeback by equalizing in the 53rd minute, before Julian Alvarez's penalty and a late goal by Bernardo Silva secured a 3-1 win at Everton to put the defending champions back into the Premier League's top four.

“That’s why we’re the world champions. The best team in the world,” Guardiola said with a smile in a post-game interview on Amazon Prime. “Now I'm going to remind them every day. We have a standard to keep.”

Manchester City's Argentinian striker Julian Alvarez (L) celebrates with midfielder Phil Foden - AFP
Manchester City's Argentinian striker Julian Alvarez (L) celebrates with midfielder Phil Foden - AFP

The trip to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup was perhaps a bit of a distraction and allowed rivals Liverpool and Arsenal to widen the gap at the top. But City now can now fully refocus on the task of winning an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title, and this was a vital first step in showing that it can't be counted out despite a recent poor run of form.

City is five points behind leader Liverpool with a game in hand, while Arsenal can go six points ahead of Guardiola's team by beating West Ham on Thursday.

“We know after six games with just one win, the people were asking, which is normal because it is all about results,” Guardiola said about his team's recent run. “I have a feeling this team, we're going to be there.

“I remember on the plane coming back from Saudi Arabia, I listened to the players when they didn't know I was listening, and they started to talk about Everton.

"I said 'wow, this is my team'. I have the feeling they still want to try,” he added. We don't talk enough about how good we are."

City next host promoted Sheffield United on Saturday.

Chelsea's Noni Madueke scores their second goal from the penalty spot. - Reuters
Chelsea's Noni Madueke scores their second goal from the penalty spot. - Reuters

Chelsea’s rare home win

League victories at Stamford Bridge have been hard to come by for Chelsea in 2023. But its last home game of the year ended in a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace after substitute Noni Madueke converted a late penalty for the hosts.

It was just Chelsea's sixth home league win of the calendar year, and Mauricio Pochettino's team once again struggled to turn possession into goals for much of the game. With Chelsea fielding the club's youngest ever starting lineup for a Premier League game — thanks to a slew of injuries and suspensions — the Blues took the lead through Mykhailo Mudryk in the 13th minute. But the hosts missed several chances to double their advantage before Michael Olise equalized just before the break.

Just as it looked like Chelsea’s inefficiency up front would cost it again, Madueke was tripped by Eberechi Eze inside the area and stepped up to the spot himself to send goalkeeper Dean Henderson the wrong way in the 89th minute.

That lifted Chelsea into 10th place, which is still far from where the club had expected to be at this stage when it hired Pochettino at the end of last season.

“The first half of the season has been really up and down and it’s been tough and difficult,” Pochettino said. "But we’re positive and we need to show that we can compete.”

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“We performed well, we just made too many big mistakes that killed the game,” Frank said. “We just need to put in the good performance and things will turn around.”


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