We need to refresh not rebuild – Pep Guardiola on Man City’s striking struggles

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Pep Guardiola has rejected suggestions Manchester City’s struggles in front of goal require a major rebuilding project.

City have laboured through the first part of the season, able to keep clean sheets at the back but still dropping points due to an uncharacteristic shyness at the other end of the pitch.

After Tuesday’s frustrating 1-1 draw with West Brom, they have only 18 goals from their first 12 Premier League games, barely half the 35 they had at the same stage of last season.

Since the end of last season City have lost David Silva and Leroy Sane, while the long-term future of Sergio Aguero, who has missed much of the season so far through injury, is unclear as he enters the final months of his contract.

Guardiola admitted the problems amounted to a new challenge for him in his distinguished coaching career but denied it was comparable to the task he faced when he first arrived in Manchester in 2016.

“We cannot compare it to the first season,” he said. “The first season was new, there were a million things we should do and step by step we tried to do it.

“Last season, even losing the Premier League title we scored the most goals. Unfortunately we lost Leroy and Sergio was out, but Sergio has not been there again either, so we are the same people.

“Ferran (Torres) has good numbers for the minutes he played, he can play as a striker or a winger, so we are the same.

Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Sergio Aguero has been limited to just six appearances this season (Clive Brunskill/PA)

Guardiola had said there was no easy answer for the lack of goals, but insisted the solution would only come through the team working harder and being more aggressive in creating chances.

He said: “It’s not about one single player. That would be easy. What is the reason we don’t score goals? This guy? OK, put another one in. But it’s not about this. Everyone has played a lot of minutes.

“But with this schedule, the lack of preparation, everyone is involved. It would be a mistake to think the reason why we don’t score is one or two players, and that one or two players are the reason why we concede few.

“Football is a total and everyone is important.”

With City already eight points off champions Liverpool, answers are needed soon, starting away to third-placed Southampton on Saturday.

“We know we have to start to win games,” Guardiola said. “If not (the title) will not be possible. We know it. It’s not news. It’s not about what Liverpool are able to do or Tottenham or Southampton. There are eight teams in front of us.

“Yes, we have a game in hand but we have to win it. We have to start to win games to be there at the end.”

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