Pep: Aguero irreplaceable, but Jesus will improve

Adam Bate

Comment and Analysis @ghostgoal

Reaction following Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Everton at the Etihad Stadium as Gabriel Jesus scored twice

Last Updated: 01/01/20 8:56pm

Pep Guardiola feels Gabriel Jesus (centre) will get even better
Pep Guardiola feels Gabriel Jesus (centre) will get even better

Pep Guardiola was delighted with Manchester City’s performance in winning 2-1 against Everton, and says goalscorer Gabriel Jesus will get even better.

Gabriel Jesus scored twice in the second half and though Richarlison was able to pull one back for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, City held on for the win.

“We played top,” said Guardiola. “I am so delighted about the performance. Being far away from first after being champions for two seasons, normally teams in these situations give up and finish seventh or eighth in the table.

Jesus underrated?

Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 69 goals in his 75 starts for Manchester City in all competitions, scoring 53 and assisting 16.

“Maybe we are still going to finish seventh or eighth in the table but not because we don’t try. We were there and we played so good. It was a good victory for us.”

‘Aguero irreplaceable’

Jesus celebrates his second goal
Jesus celebrates his second goal

Jesus went close to a hat-trick, striking a post and forcing a good save from Jordan Pickford. He has now scored eight goals in his last eight games.

“He is young, we cannot forget it,” said Guardiola. “He is a lad from Brazil, a young, young player. But the way he defends and fights. Of course, he has to get better. We spoke about what he has to do. But every day he is better and better.”

Could he replace Sergio Aguero as the team’s first-choice striker?

“Sergio is irreplaceable,” Guardiola added. “It is what he means for our fans, what he has done in this club. For living the best moment in the history of this club, that unforgettable moment against QPR.

“So it’s difficult. But Sergio, every year is one year more. There are a lot of games so we need good back-ups for all the players.

“Sergio complements Gabriel. I think they have an incredible relationship, especially because Sergio is an amazing person and Gabriel as well.”

‘Bravo error… it happens’

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win against Everton in the Premier League.
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win against Everton in the Premier League.

One City player who did not have such a good evening was Claudio Bravo, whose error in giving away possession led to Everton’s goal. But Guardiola was quick to defend the goalkeeper.

“It happens when you play that way,” he explained. “Thanks to him we can make the build-up better and better.

“It happens. It’s football. They play. I encourage them to do it. We want the ball. What’s important is that after that, he played the ball and tried and tried and tried. Thanks to that we didn’t concede any other opportunities.”

Should Calvert-Lewin have seen red?

When asked whether a bad foul by Dominic Calvert-Lewin on Fernandinho late in the game should have resulted in a red card, Guardiola replied: “I think so.”

But Ancelotti disagreed.

“No. Pep knows that was not a red card. It was a strong tackle but he went for the ball.”

Ancelotti encouraged

Carlo Ancelotti was encouraged by Everton's performance
Carlo Ancelotti was encouraged by Everton’s performance

Aside from that, Ancelotti was encouraged by Everton’s performance – particularly in the second half after failing to test Manchester City too much during the first-half stalemate.

“The not good opinion was the first half because I think that we played too shy, too slow from the back. The plan was to react, find solutions and attack. We didn’t find the solutions to attack.

“The second part of the game when we went down, we showed more spirit, more intensity. We scored a goal, we tried to equalise. That was a good sign. We could do better in the first half.”

Perhaps Everton’s preparations were disrupted by a bizarre incident before kick-off when Yerry Mina injured Bernard in the warm-up. Tom Davies had to be drafted into the team instead.

Ancelotti refused to use this as an excuse for his first defeat as Everton manager.

“I didn’t change the plan, honestly,” he added “I don’t think it’s too serious. It happens. Not a lot of time but it happens. We were unlucky.”

What’s next?

City now host Port Vale in the FA Cup third round on Saturday at 5.31pm, before going to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports Football at 8pm.

Everton go to Liverpool in the FA Cup third round at 4.01pm on Sunday, before hosting Brighton the following Saturday at 3pm in the Premier League.

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Source : Sky Sports