Cape Town - Manchester
City boss Pep Guardiola says his Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte is
arguably the best manager in the world, ahead of Wednesday's clash
between the two sides.
City, Chelsea, and fellow big-spenders Manchester United all changed
managers in the off-season, and Guardiola admitted that the Londoners
have made the best appointment.
Conte has taken the Premier League by storm and his Chelsea side are
firmly entrenched at the top of the table, having finished 31 points
behind winners Leicester last season.
Speaking to the media ahead of Wednesday's clash at Stamford Bridge,
Guardiola spoke highly of Conte's influence at Chelsea, as well as his
time at Juventus and the Italian national team.
"My opinion about my colleague Conte is that he's superb, maybe he's the best," said Guardiola
"How he was able to make Italy play beautiful football, Juventus too, in a culture where it's so defensive.
"He's an excellent manager, I learn a lot when I see his teams -
Juventus, Italy and now. I like to do that because you see what they
want to do. Their teams control a lot of aspects. It's a good lesson for
me to see his teams and learn."
Nevertheless, Guardiola regards the 3rd December clash between the
two sides as the turning point of the season from a City perspective,
after the Blues ran out 3-1 winners at the Etihad.
Guardiola believes City had the better chances in that match and
should have walked away with all three points had Kevin de Bruyne found
the target instead of the crossbar while City led 1-0.
A win for City would have seen them move to within one point of
Chelsea, but instead the gap was seven and quickly became 10 when they
lost 4-2 to Leicester City, with Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho sent off
against the Foxes.
"We finished the game against Chelsea four points down and, believe
me, I saw the game many times," Guardiola added. "We were much, much
better. I'm sorry Antonio, but we were.
"We deserved to win. At that moment it was one point, then we go to
Leicester without Sergio - another three and soon it's 10 points."