While all the attention has been towards Manchester United challenging Liverpool for the title, Manchester City have silently gone by their business as usual to stitch wins together and put themselves amongst the contenders. A win against Aston Villa on Wednesday will take Manchester City to the top of the table for the first time since August 2019.
City have managed to get back to their best in the recent weeks to emerge as the frontrunners for challenging Liverpool this season. Guardiola’s team have achieved this feat without their club record scorer, Sergio Aguero, who has managed to clock just 141 minutes across fives appearances this season.
Although Guardiola used Ferran Torres, Mahrez, Jesus and De Bryune as strikers in their recent games, the Spaniard emphasised he would like to have Aguero back as soon as possible. Speaking to reporters ahead of the Aston Villa game, Guardiola said “We miss him. The numbers speak for themselves. He is the best striker in our history. We need Aguero.”
“Sergio is a player who can create for himself and win a game by himself but he has not been with us for a long time.”
“When we didn’t have him we could have started complaining but we did completely the opposite.“
“We want him back as soon as possible. But at the same time, we have to go forward and we have done that because of the quality and skills that we have.”
John Stones and Ruben Dias have strengthened City’s defence in the recent weeks and have conceded just 2 goals since their 2-0 defeat to Tottenham in November. Aymeric Laporte, who has not played for City since his poor performance in the defeat to Tottenham could find it difficult to get back to the starting lineup based on Stones and Dias’s partnership.
Speaking on Laporte, Guardiola said the Frenchman can find his place back based on his performances. The City manager added “It depends on him, the quality is there.“
“He has to be in top form and have his mind open. He’s the best left-sided defender. He has special quality with the ball.”
“He has to be focused to come back in the best condition possible and he will get his minutes. After, it depends on his performance like it depends on the form of everyone.”