Pep Guardiola laments carelessness after Manchester City drops more points in Premier League title race

3 min read

Manchester City was seemingly coasting to victory against Crystal Palace on Saturday, but two goals up with less than 15 minutes of regular time left, the Premier League champion’s afternoon unraveled.

Pep Guardiola laments carelessness after Manchester City drops more points in Premier League title race
Pep Guardiola laments carelessness after Manchester City drops more points in Premier League title race

Palace pulled one back, and then scored another deep into injury time after City had conceded a careless penalty.

The two late goals meant that City was held to a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and dropped another two points in the Premier League title race.

Off the back of a historic season last year, the club is now fourth in the Premier League table, three points behind league leader Liverpool, which has a game in hand.

“It’s not bad luck, it’s deserved,” Guardiola said afterward, per Reuters. “We give away two points. When you give away this penalty, you deserve it. You see the chances we created and conceded, it’s quite similar to all this season – but we are not able to close the games. That is the feeling.”

Goals from Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis had given City a 2-0 lead before Jean-Philippe Mateta pulled Crystal Palace back within reach.

Then, in the 94th minute, Phil Foden’s clumsy challenge on Mateta conceded a penalty that Michael Olise duly converted, sealing the 2-2 draw.

Conceding so late in the game is becoming a familiar pattern for City – Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Chelsea have all scored late goals to equalize this season, and Arsenal to win.

Pep Guardiola laments carelessness after Manchester City drops more points in Premier League title race
Pep Guardiola laments carelessness after Manchester City drops more points in Premier League title race

Such a pattern contrasts with City’s all-conquering, ruthless past self which won the treble last year – only the second ever English team to achieve such a feat – and five of the last six league titles.

But, after reaching the pinnacle of European football and finally winning that elusive Champions League trophy, there is a sense, perhaps, that fatigue has contributed to a more fallible team this year.

Saturday’s result against Palace means that City has now won just one of its last six league games.

“The team was really good, but in the end when you give Crystal Palace a penalty you don’t deserve it,” Guardiola added, according to the club’s website. “It’s like the Chelsea penalty, we don’t deserve to win.

“Look at the games against Spurs, Liverpool and today, we were excellent, but we were unable to win the games. When this happens, it’s because we are not consistent enough to close the games and many other reasons.”

Nonetheless, there is still more than half the season to play, and City has always possessed the ability to step up a notch after Christmas and dismantle any competition.

The club’s record-breaking striker Erling Haaland is also still to return after a foot injury forced him to miss the last two games.

But with four teams – Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa and City – all within three points of each other at the top of the table, City’s title defense seems increasingly fragile.

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