Pep Guardiola labels Ederson as Manchester City’s best penalty-taker
Gabriel Jesus’ missed penalty on the 35th-minute mark for Manchester City at Bramall Lane could have been extremely costly if his red-hot counterpart Sergio Aguero would not have come off the bench to rescue Pep Guardiola’s side yet again.
The 22-year-old Brazilian has now already missed three penalties for club and country this season, and his latest against Sheffield United meant that he’s definitely going to be out of spot-kick duty come City’s next game. Aguero, who is Guardiola’s principle penalty-taker, started from the bench as did Ilkay Gundogan, who is another reliable penalty specialist.
City missing penalties has been a theme of the last couple of seasons, most notably when Riyad Mahrez skied one at Anfield last season and the two missed by Raheem Sterling at Wolves in December. Jesus’ penalty, however, was up for some debate because Sheffield goalkeeper Dean Henderson was way ahead of his line when the striker kicked the ball.
Guardiola was asked his opinions about the penalty situation after the game, to which he answered, “These things happen in the game.” More interestingly, however, he continued to say that goalkeeper Ederson is probably the best penalty-taker at the club.
“Ederson is the best. Believe me, Eddie is the best taker we have on the penalties. He has no blood in his brains, he's so calm, so he could do it,” he said in the post-match interview.
Given City’s firepower, that is some compliment for the Brazilian shot-stopper coming from his boss. We have all been witness to Ederson’s immaculate control and command over the ball and his incredible range of passing, and the former Benfica keeper even joked in an interview that he could play in Guardiola’s midfield and take set-pieces for the team. Back in April 2018, when the side had already clinched the quickest Premier League title, the keeper expressed his desire to take a penalty in the side’s home fixture against Swansea.
“I heard them [the fans] chanting my name, asking me to take the penalty, but Gabriel went there,” Ederson said. “Unfortunately he missed it and Bernardo, fortunately, scored, but if the manager had asked me to go there, I would have definitely scored.
“I’m not sure if I would be able to do set-pieces, but I’m good at penalties, either using power or technique when I’m shooting. City have their regular penalty takers and we have good options, but if Pep asks me to take it, I’m there. Hopefully, it will happen [before the end of the season]. I’d like to score.”
Guardiola, however, squashed the keeper's dreams a week later, saying, “That's not going to happen. There are other players to hit them. There is respect for the opponent, respect for competitions. In friendlies maybe he can do it but in a league game, no.”
As much as City fans would love to see Ederson jog to the opposite end and coolly slot in a penalty, they would definitely be more concerned about keeping a clean sheet, which the Champions have only managed thrice in the last 21 games.
For now, Pep Guardiola will have to revert to the training ground to rethink his penalty-takers. City play Fulham at home in FA Cup action this weekend while Sheffield United travel to Millwall.Published 22 Jan 2020, 06:52 IST