Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola praised the “exceptional” Ilkay Gundogan after the win over Fulham, but warned the midfielder of an error he must begin avoiding.
Despite the somewhat unconvincing 2-0 scoreline, City eased to a 2-0 win over the Cottagers on Saturday.
Kevin de Bruyne unsurprisingly played a crucial role in the win with a goal and an assist. Indeed, the Belgian could have made it a hat-trick of strikes in the second half.
But Germany international Gundogan was also vital in securing the win; the midfielder controlled the game and kept solidity when the hosts needed it.
Speaking after the match, Guardiola hailed the player for his influence on the match.
“Ilkay is incredibly important for us. He has personality. Defensively he was good,” the manager said (via Twitter).
“He lost simple balls and has to avoid that. But Ilkay is an exceptional player in all situations. He can play more upfront and as a defensive midfielder.”
Guardiola’s side face a Champions League dead rubber against Marseille on Wednesday ahead of a crunch Premier League meeting with Manchester United next weekend.
On how he would approach the next week, the manager said: “After [Wednesday] we will see about United and how we want to play.
“I see the positive things after the performances of the last three or four games. More positives than the opposite.
“We will improve, we know it, but if we win the games, it’s enough.”
Stones hails Man City improvement
City‘s latest win marked the first time that Guardiola’s side have won back-to-back Premier League games this season.
The former champions beat Burnley 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium last weekend.
“We said after the Champions League game that we wanted to keep another clean sheet. Today was a tough opponent that we did a few days work on after the game in Porto and we knew what we were up against,” Stones said.
“We said it from the start that we want to keep the wins going. There could have been more, In every game we play, we could score more – we’re frustrated with ourselves – but we’re happy with the three points. It’s something we can learn from ahead of the next game we go into.
“It’s always the same [competition for places]. The manager demands a lot from us and expects a lot from us. When there’s a chance, we’ve got to take it. It’s a healthy competition.
“We know what’s expected of us. If we don’t deliver then we know someone else is fighting for that spot. That’s served us well over recent years. Everyone has high standards and keeps them there and that’s what the manager wants.”
Stones also insisted that his side must keep their “winning mentality” going if they are to succeed this term.