Dubai: While Manchester City huffed and puffed, produced countless chances, missed a penalty and ultimately lost 2-0 to Tottenham on Sunday, Pep Guardiola cut a sullen figure on the touchline in London.
For all their effort, City failed to even trim Liverpool’s insurmountable 22-point gap at the top of the Premier League, and will head into the winter break under a cloud after his side failed to score in consecutive games for the first time since he joined the club in 2016.
Following the game on Sunday against West Ham, City do not play again until they face Leicester on February 22. However, unlike many of their Premier League rivals, City will not be heading off to sunny climes during the break. Instead, Guardiola plans to use the time off to allow his players to spend time with their families before getting down to some serious training in their state-of-the-art Etihad Campus facility.
The coach will be hoping some time with loved ones and then the familiar surroundings of their own training complex will do the trick, because the crucial fixtures come thick and face on the league’s resumption.
The Premier League title race is over, but the clash against Leicester could go a long way to deciding who finished second behind Liverpool.
Next up after that is the small matter of a two-legged Champions League affair against current La Liga leaders Real Madrid, starting with a trip to the Bernabeu on February 26.
Guardiola has clearly been experimenting with his line-up in recent matches, with no real results to show for it and he needs to get it right if he doesn’t want to see his dream of claiming the Champions League title with City turning into a nightmare yet again.