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Pep Guardiola has challenged Manchester City players after admitting that they all have the luxury of expert goal-scoring “guns” at their disposal to ensure that missing Harry Kane doesn’t prove the difference in the Premier League title race.

City face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this lunchtime for the first time since losing to Thomas Tuchel in the Champions League final in May.

This was Tuchel’s third consecutive victory over City as Chelsea manager since the West London club added Romelu Lukaku to their roster following the Belgian striker’s £97.5m transfer from Inter Milan.

Guardiola believes Lukaku’s arrival will further strengthen Chelsea and admits that City, who have failed to sign Tottenham’s Kane, is not a prolific striker from the Belgian like Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United or Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

City needed such a player in their goalless draw against Southampton last weekend, but Guardiola still counts on his team and shares the burden in front of goal and underestimates not being the #9 specialist.

“I totally agree with you,” the city manager said, when suggested that top scorers could make the difference in a championship race where the margins are so small.

“Strikeers are strikers. They’re a little out of the team bubble and they live for themselves. But these are the hardest players to get.

“We had the privilege of having Sergio. [Aguero] for years. Unfortunately, he has been injured for the last year and a half and we haven’t been able to use him much. We survived well without him the way we played.

“Right now we have two options: to complain or to say we have outstanding players. We don’t have this weapon that other teams like Chelsea, United, Tottenham or other teams have, so we have to use what we can as a team.

“We don’t have a player to score 25 league goals for him, so we have to do it as a team. That’s what we’re going to try this season.

“I will not deny what kind of actor Romelu Lukaku is. NS [Chelsea] The team was already very strong and now it is stronger with it. A stronger team than last season, but that’s the challenge. I won’t say I’m sad or disappointed with the staff we have.

“You’re not going to hear me moan for a second this season complaining that we don’t have this player because… that’s enough for me.”

Guardiola said he watched the Champions League final weeks after the game and again in preparation for today’s (SAT) game and was clear about where City should improve against Chelsea.

“The decision is now made, so I don’t regret it,” he said. “We will try to learn, we will try to improve. In the last third of the game, we missed a bit to be more accurate, we lost the second ball, the passes were very good and because their defensive structure was very good, they managed to regain the ball and made quick passes.

“They controlled all the divisions and that’s why the Champions League final was very difficult against an outstanding team.

We played with courage and personality and tried to do that, but unfortunately they were better than us on the long ball, the counter attacks, the second ball and they beat us.”

by James Ducker

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