EPL

Guardiola says 'outstanding' Grealish has played so well for Man City

By Sports Desk December 18, 2021

Pep Guardiola has heaped praise on "outstanding" Jack Grealish ahead of Manchester City's trip to Newcastle United.

City are a point clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table following a run of seven successive victories. Another would see them set a new top-flight record for the most wins in a single calendar year with 34.

The latest of these saw them inflict a 7-0 rout on a helpless Leeds United in midweek, with record signing Grealish on target during an impressive display that also saw him complete 41 of his 43 attempted passes and draw a game-high three fouls.

It was only the former Aston Villa skipper's second Premier League goal since that big-money move to the Etihad Stadium, while he also has two assists to his name. It was also the first headed goal of his Premier League career.

But Guardiola, whose initially inconclusive COVID-19 test result was later revealed as negative, insists he has been delighted with the all-round contribution of the England international.

Indeed, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (47), Bruno Fernandes (45) and Mohamed Salah (34) have created more chances than Grealish (30) in the English top flight this season.

"Jack is an outstanding player. He has so much quality and has played so well for us," Guardiola said. "It is important for every player to feel like they are contributing with goals, but he has been playing well all season, and we know what to expect from him.

"It takes time to get used to a new team, a new way of playing, but Jack knows what he has to do, and we will continue to see this."

The omens heading into the match appear to lean strongly in City's favour.

Indeed, they have suffered just one defeat in their 13 most recent league games at St James' Park, winning nine of those, whereas 19th-place Newcastle are targeting only a second win of the season.

City have scored in each of the last 25 meetings between the two sides. In the Premier League's history, only Arsenal have had a longer scoring streak against a specific opponent, netting in 26 successive games against West Brom, so City can match that record on Sunday.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has lost all 10 of his Premier League encounters with City, going back to his time as Bournemouth boss. That is the worst 100 per cent losing record any manager has against a specific opponent in the competition's history.

Nevertheless, Guardiola knows his side must be at their best to avoid any potential slip-ups against the Magpies.

"It is not easy to go to Newcastle and get a result, so we will need the whole team, and hopefully we will be strong enough to get the points," Guardiola added.

"People will talk about our place in the table or their place in the table, but when you go to Newcastle, you know what sort of game to expect.

"Everyone wants to win every match and at this level, you have to be prepared for this. Newcastle in their stadium with their fans behind them, they will be ready, and they have the quality to hurt us if we don’t play at our best. We are playing well and getting results we want, but we have to continue this."

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