City players do not "deserve" winless run, says Guardiola
(Reuters) - Manchester City's players "do not deserve" their bad run of form, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday as the Premier League leaders seek to turn around a six-game winless streak at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
After a blistering start to the campaign, winning their first 10 games in all competitions, City's form has stalled with Wednesday's 1-0 League Cup loss to Manchester United handing Guardiola his worst run of results since entering management.
The run has seen City's lead in the Premier League evaporate, with Arsenal and Liverpool trailing Guardiola's side only on goal difference.
"For the players, they don't deserve this. We are in this period like it is but it will make us stronger in the future, I am sure about that," the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said.
"There are many things that have changed. I need time to learn, to improve. I'm still in that process.
"We have to learn as quickly as possible. We go game by game. We'll prepare for West Brom then on Sunday we'll talk about Barcelona," he referring to the Champions League match at home next week.
"Looking at our own game I don't think we are too far from where we want to be, despite our run of results. We are creating enough chances to win games but we need to make better decisions in and around the box."
Guardiola also said he expects West Brom to offer a tough physical challenge at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
"It will be tough. They will be high pressing. After that, they recover the ball. They defend low. They are very compact, with very good movement," he said.
"They are very strong on set-pieces. They use this style marvellously, perfectly. We have to adapt in that way. When we have the ball, they are going to adapt to us."
Influential playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and defender Pablo Zabaleta missed Wednesday's derby at United through injury, but Guardiola remained tight-lipped about their progress.
"The injuries are getting better. They are getting better - but I cannot answer if they will play at West Brom," Guardiola added.
"Vincent (Kompany) didn't play the second half against United because he was tired. We want to keep him safe and for him to have the same options as his team mates."
(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru, editing by Rex Gowar)