'Arsenal will destroy us': Guardiola blasts Man City despite comeback win against Spurs

City come from two goals down to beat Tottenham 4-2 and close gap on Premier League leaders to five points

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Pep Guardiola said Arsenal will "destroy" his Manchester City side in the Premier League title race if they do not improve on recent performances despite a stirring second half fightback to beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 on Thursday.

City looked to be heading for a second consecutive defeat as goals from Dejan Kulusevski and Emerson Royal just before half time gave the visitors a two-goal cushion at the Etihad Stadium.

But City clinched the win thanks to a 12-minute goal blitz from Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez after the interval with Mahrez sealing a rousing comeback with his second goal in injury time.

The win saw City close the gap on league leaders Arsenal to five points, though the Gunners have a game in hand.

City and Arsenal are still to face each other twice in the league this season, but Guardiola took aim at his players for resting on their laurels after winning four league titles in five seasons.

"We cannot deny how happy we are but we are far away from the team that we were," said Guardiola.

"I want a reaction from all the club, not just the players. We are a happy flowers organisation. I don't want to be, I want to beat Arsenal. If we play that way, Arsenal will destroy us."

Guardiola dropped midfield stalwarts Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva to the bench and paired Argentina World Cup winner Alvarez alongside the prolific Norwegian Haaland in a two-man strike force.

Tottenham have made a habit of having to come from behind after slow starts this season, but the roles were reversed as a third defeat in four league games leaves Antonio Conte's men still five points adrift of the top four.

Spurs' half-time lead owed much to uncharacteristic City mistakes.

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Ederson's wayward pass to Rodri played the Spanish midfielder into trouble and the ball eventually dropped to Kulusevski to slot in his first goal since the opening day of the season.

Moments later Rodri was dispossessed inside his own box again by a Harry Kane tackle and when Ederson parried his shot, Emerson headed in the rebound.

"We gave them the first goal and then the second goal is ridiculous," added Guardiola.

Guardiola stuck to his guns at half time rather than sending on the cavalry from the bench and it paid off as the champions took just 18 minutes to turn the game around.

Alvarez started the fightback as the Argentine kept a cool head amid a goalmouth scramble to find the roof of the net.

Within two minutes the hosts were level as Haaland ended his three-game goal drought by heading in Mahrez's ball across the face of goal.

Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Getty Images

City who got the decisive fifth goal with questions set to be asked again of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

With Sunday's own goal against Arsenal still fresh in the memory, Spurs captain Lloris was beaten again at his near post, although Mahrez's strike did take a deflection off Ben Davies.

Mahrez then took his tally since the World Cup break to six goals in seven games as he anticipated a slack touch from Clement Lenglet and this time left Lloris with no chance with a dinked finish over the advancing goalkeeper.

"This type of game with more experience you never lose," said Spurs manager Conte. "This is the first time in my career my team conceded so many goals."

Updated: January 20, 2023, 5:12 AM
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