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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits anything can happen at Hull

Pep Guardiola acknowledges Manchester City have tightened up defensively in their last two games – but claims anything could still happen at Hull on Boxing Day.

City emerged from a bad spell by keeping a first clean sheet in nine attempts in a victory over Watford earlier this month and followed up by coming from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 last week.

The back line has appeared to be City’s weak link this season but Guardiola has stressed the way to improve it is not by focusing on fundamentals such as tackling, but improving the all-round play of the team.

By doing this he expects his team to limit opponents’ abilities to create chances and he is pleased with recent progress.

Guardiola said: “It is so important to be solid in the middle and at the back. Against Watford and Arsenal we conceded few chances, not just because of the back four but our pressing was higher. Our controlling the game was with the counter-attack, when we had to use it, and our retention of the ball.

“That is why we conceded few chances but every game is different.

Guardiola is not taking anything for granted against Premier League bottom side Hull at the KCOM Stadium.

Mike Phelan’s men have taken just 12 points from 17 games and are without a win in their last six league outings but Guardiola has seen signs of danger from the Tigers.

He said: “They started quite well.

Of course the situation is not good but I saw many of their games and they are a special team who try to play more here than other teams in the Premier League.

“I spoke to Silva and some other players and they gave me good advice about what it means to be playing Hull City on Boxing Day.

“What I have learned in my short period here is that the gap between the first 10 and the last 10 is not a big difference.

“That is why it is difficult to win. I am not expecting that the games, whether they are home or away, will be easier than any others.”

City will check on the fitness of right-back Pablo Zabaleta, who is doubtful for the trip after hurting his knee against Arsenal.

“He has a little bit of problems but hopefully he can rejoin us in the training sessions,” said Guardiola.

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits anything can happen at Hull


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