Pep Guardiola was refusing to let two dropped points spoil his assessment of how Manchester City played against Southampton, admitting their lead at the top is still greater than he expected.
Manchester City’s winning run came to an end when Southampton stunned them early on and eventually earned a point. Kyle Walker-Peters gave the hosts the lead in the seventh minute, before City equalised via Aymeric Laporte in the second half.
However, despite having 20 shots in total, City could only direct five on target. Laporte’s was the only one that went in.
Although they retain a healthy lead at the top of the table, they would obviously have preferred to turn the result around completely in order to maintain momentum.
But Guardiola did not share too much disappointment after, rather the opposite. In fact, he enthused about one of their “best performances of the season”, insisting it will have no impact on their belief in what they are aiming for.
He told Sky Sports: “We played really well. Unfortunately, in the first half we conceded a goal. But I think this was one of our best performances of the season, by far.
“They were incredibly organised and this is one of the best performances we played against them. Yes, the result was not good, but in terms of performance and the way we played, it was excellent.
“We played better than in the Arsenal game, when we won, and today we drew. Sometimes you deserve it and you don’t win. But the way we played here was excellent.
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“Southampton are a really good team. They are organised, they play 4-4-2, long balls, good pace in counter-attack, good build up… But we were brilliant today.
“Why should we lose belief in what we have done? It was a good performance. We are going to drop points. But the way we behave is very good.
“We have two weeks to prepare for the next game. People will say the Premier League race is not over and that is good for this side. We have many tough games ahead of us. But we will try to behave until the end.
“I would like to have a 40-point lead ahead of Liverpool. But that is not possible in January. I didn’t expect to have this lead. But now we will rest and come back as best as possible.”
Guardiola assessment rubs off on Laporte
The manager’s stance is clearly shared by some of his players. Goalscorer Laporte agreed that although they could have got more points, they can be very happy with how they played.
Laporte told Sky Sports: “I think we played really well and maybe deserved more. But if we don’t score more than one it’s very difficult.
“They have good players here and the pitch is small. So it is a little bit more difficult.
“I think we deserved more. But we have to stay focussed and keep doing like we have the last few weeks. We’ve done a great job. Now we focus on the next one.
“In the end we managed the game well and I think we could have scored more.
“We are happy because we have done a great job.
“I would like to win three points tonight. But they played very good. We played very well also. Sometimes you win when you don’t deserve it and tonight we got a point when we maybe deserved a little bit more.”