Pep Guardiola says players not coaches decide big games
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Last Updated: 09/02/19 11:21am
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted that players, rather than coaches, are responsible for deciding big games.
City, who begin the weekend top of the Premier League, host fourth-placed Chelsea on Sunday in a crucial encounter for both Guardiola and Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri.
Chelsea are engaged in a three-way battle with Manchester United and Arsenal for the final Champions League qualification spot, while City and Liverpool are five points clear of Spurs in the title race.
"(It is) not Sarri, Pep, Jurgen (Klopp) or any manager. This game belongs to the players and important games belong to special players," Guardiola said on Friday.
"Sometimes the best tennis players, when they need a point to save a break, they make ace. The big moments, always the big athletes come.
After trailing Liverpool by 10 points at one stage in December, City won 2-0 at Everton on Wednesday night to return top on goal difference, but have played one game more than Klopp's side.
Having initially set the pace at the top of the table along with City and Liverpool, Sarri has struggled to get the squad to adapt to his possession-based style of play, which was a crucial factor in Chelsea's recruitment of the Italian from Napoli last summer.
"I met him (Sarri) last season when we played against Napoli and I was so curious because I enjoyed, a lot, watching his Napoli," Guardiola said.
"Winning in Italy is not easy with Juventus but they made 90 points and played incredible football.
"I think the season from Chelsea is exceptional. They are in the final of the Carabao Cup, in the Europa League they went through easy, and in the Premier League they are there."