Manchester City tightening up at the back as their goalscoring exploits mount comes as no surprise to manager Pep Guardiola.
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City emphatically overcoming last season’s jitters in front of goal has directly contributed to them becoming a more solid defensive unit.
Rueing missed chances was a familiar post-match lament for Guardiola during his debut campaign in England as City faded from the Premier League title picture at the turn of the year.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has been unable to have any such complaints this time around, with Saturday’s 7-2 thrashing of Stoke City continuing a nine-match winning run across all competitions that has also featured 5-0 victories over Liverpool and Crystal Palace, along with a 6-0 triumph at Watford.
A brace from Gabriel Jesus at the weekend and one apiece for Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva gave City a two point lead from neighbours Manchester United at the Premier League summit, while their 29 goals in the first eight matches is the best top-flight return since 30 from Everton 123 years ago in the 1894-95 season.
“We are almost the same guys as last season, but now we have the feeling we are going to score a goal, “Guardiola told reporters following a performance versus Stoke that he labelled as the best of his City tenure.
“Don’t ask me why, because the principles, as I have repeated many times, are the same. Last season, we had that feeling we weren’t going to score a goal, but now we’ve got it.
“We have the feeling that if we arrive, we will score a goal. Of course, it’s so important. We play to score goals. Ever since I arrived, we have wanted to make our game.
“We have to increase the little details, to do things quick and simple. With that rhythm, we create more chances and goals.”
Stoke were the first team to score against Guardiola’s men in the Premier League since Bournemouth in August and their goals-against column reads a miserly four.
Ederson, a £35million signing from Benfica, has proved an assuring presence in goal after Claudio Bravo’s erratic efforts last term, while John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have grown in stature as a centre-back partnership during Vincent Kompany’s latest calf injury absence.
The bulk of Guardiola’s close-season spending was focused on the full-back areas and has paid dividends, even allowing for Benjamin Mendy now being sidelined by cruciate knee ligament damage, but he maintained improvements at both ends of the field go hand in hand.
“I know there is a tendency to split attack and defence. In football, you cannot,” said Guardiola, whose men host similarly free-scoring Serie A leaders Napoli on Tuesday.
“So when you attack well, you defend well, and when you defend well, you attack well.
“When you have the feeling you are going to score goals, you defend better. When you defend better, you are going to score more. It’s not a coincidence.
“It’s difficult to find a team who have a lot of clean sheets but do not score goals. It’s so, so difficult to find it.
“Everything depends on everything. Football is dynamic: attack, defend, attack, defend, in a row. That’s why we have good statistics in those terms.”