Pep Guardiola says replacing Benjamin Mendy was a struggle for Manchester City during 2017/18 Premier League title run
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 25/08/18 2:49pm
Pep Guardiola is grateful to have Benjamin Mendy back after admitting struggling to replace the defender when injured last season.
The France international has hit the ground running in 2018/19 with three assists in his first two games, and has quickly shown Guardiola what his already superb City side were lacking when he missed all-but seven games of their title-winning campaign last season.
Mendy looks set to play for City in Saturday's trip to Wolves, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 11.30am, and Guardiola is happy to have the new dimension of the former Monaco left-back who cost £49.2m last summer.
Guardiola told Sky Sports: "We could not demand Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko do what Benjamin Mendy does, in terms of going up and down the wing, attacking space and having his physicality because they have different physical conditions.
"We saw it [Mendy's quality] in Monaco in France, his quality to go forward. When a player has this quality, we have to use it, because it's his ability to create problems.
"Last season we adapted the way we defended, used Fabien and Zinchenko, but we didn't have another option last season. That's why speaking about tactics you first have to speak about the quality of the players and how they move with their team-mates for the way we want to play."
Guardiola's City come into the game on the back of a 6-1 thrashing of Huddersfield Town at the Etihad, but the Spaniard is desperate to ensure confidence does not turn into complacency against a team he says is more than capable of springing an upset.
He said: "When I saw them, I immediately realised why they destroyed the Championship last season. They have really good fast players up front like Helder Costa, Joao Moutinho is a very experienced player, Ruben Neves is a very talented player with passing and vision, and they're well-organised.
"You see Nuno Espirito Santos and you realise they know exactly what they have to do, and they do it really well. The way they play is like Chelsea under Antonio Conte last season, with a 5-4-1 or 5-3-2.
"But the way they attack, they have a lot of movement right to left, left to right, and they have five players to attack. So they know exactly what to do, and when the opponent allows them what they want to do they can create a lot of chances and problems.
"It works, so they've done it. I have a lot of respect, but we knew that before, the way they spent money that season on key players, important players, I've known exactly since the beginning so they are a good team to beat, a difficult one to play against and it will be a good test for us of how we react after these two or three weeks. I'm curious to see how we respond tomorrow."