Guardiola says Grealish will have benefited from full week with Man City
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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola cited Euro 2020, COVID-19 and Kevin De Bruyne’s lack of match fitness as reasons for the Blues’ disappointing opening weekend defeat to Tottenham. Jack Grealish had some bright touches on his Premier League debut for City, but it was not enough to prevent them from leaving empty-handed.
Guardiola’s side missed a host of early chances to pile the pressure on Spurs, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s side slowly grew in confidence to stem the tide.
An unorthodox strike from Heung-min Son proved crucial after the break as the tenacious Spurs side protected their lead as if their lives depended on it.
City eventually sent on the big guns in the closing stages, although it could not salvage a point for them to take back up north.
It is a fairy-tale start for new Spurs boss Nuno, who left Harry Kane out of the squad due to a lack of match fitness.
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For his opposite number, however, it is an early setback in a Premier League season where the title is sure to be fought for until the bitter end.
Guardiola had this to say to BBC after the game: “We allowed them too much, we could not control it, especially the simple thing when you lose the passes in certain positions it is always more difficult.
“Football is goals, Son Heung-min scored the goal, we could not. It is normal for a season with not much preparation. The spirit was good but we lost.
“I am more than surprised how good we have done many things. A lot players arrived too late for Euros, for Covid, for many things.
“Players come back and every week will be better.”
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Another storyline to spice up the occasion was Jack Grealish’s Premier League debut in City blue.
Guardiola had this to say about his £100million recruit: “He was excellent. He played with a personality and created chances.
“Unfortunately we could not win for him for his debut but he played really well.
“In terms of give me the ball he doesn’t lose the ball, he is so dangerous close to the box.
“Kevin de Bruyne has not done one full training session, he needs to train. He will need time to play 90 minutes.”
If Guardiola’s explanations are legitimate, City should be expected to pick up over the coming weeks as players return to full fitness.
Whether Harry Kane will be in their ranks for the coming season remains a bone of contention, with Spurs still insistent that he will not leave for less than £150m.
One thing is for sure, City will have to find their rhythm quickly if they are to avoid seeing their rivals out of sight by the time they hit top gear.
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