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Pep Guardiola: 'John Stones deserves huge praise'

Pep Guardiola: 'John Stones deserves huge praise'
© Reuters
The defender scored his first Premier League goals for City in their 4-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola says John Stones deserves all the praise he gets after scoring twice in his latest outstanding display for Manchester City.

The 26-year-old defender grabbed City's first and third goals – his first strikes for the club in the Premier League – as they thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Stones appeared to be facing an uncertain future last summer after falling out of favour under manager Guardiola.

It seemed he might have to settle for being fourth-choice centre-back – at best – behind Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake.

Yet given an opportunity to play alongside new signing Dias early in the campaign, he grasped it and his position now looks rock-solid. In the 10 games he and Dias have started this season, City have won nine and conceded just one goal.

Guardiola said: "If there is one guy who deserves the best it is John. He's struggled a lot but he's a fantastic human being. His parents must be so proud.

John Stones scored twice in the 4-0 win
John Stones scored twice in the 4-0 win (Clive Brunskill/PA)

"He's had personal problems in the past, injuries. At the moment he's set up good and he's starting to play.

"Confidence is everything. He won his confidence for himself. As managers, we can't give confidence.

"He started to play alongside Ruben and they've played really well."

City's victory was their fifth in succession in the Premier League and lifted them above champions Liverpool into second in the table. They are two points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand and, after a slow start to the season, seem to be making their move.

Guardiola said: "Of course we fought a lot to be up there, like many clubs, and we will have to fight a lot to stay there.

"It is a weird season. Everyone can beat everyone. It is difficult every game but I am happy, especially for the players, for another good performance and for the three points."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who turns 50 on Monday, saw his side climb up to second in the table
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who turns 50 on Monday, saw his side climb up to second in the table (Clive Brunskill/PA)

Guardiola, who celebrates his 50th birthday on Monday, added the result was a "nice present".

Palace boss Roy Hodgson was frustrated how his side fell away after showing resilience in the first half.

City were made to wait 26 minutes for their opener from Stones and the other three goals – Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling scored either side of Stones' second – all came in the second half.

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson was disappointed by the second-half goals his side conceded
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson was disappointed by the second-half goals his side conceded (Peter Powell/PA)

Hodgson said: "At half-time I didn't see us losing by that heavy margin. We were on the end of some spectacular goals but I was disappointed we had a hand in them and presented them with a couple of those goals.

"We were partly the architects of our downfall. We have to give credit to the opposition, who were so good. I don't want to take anything away from City.

"So I can understand we are defeated but the thing that hurts me was that those goals in the second half came, and at the end of the game we are looking at a heavy defeat."

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How you voted: Man City vs Crystal Palace

Manchester City
79.7%
Draw
8.3%
Crystal Palace
12.0%
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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City28205356193765
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd28159455322354
3Leicester CityLeicester28165748321653
4Chelsea28148644251950
5West Ham UnitedWest Ham27146742311148
6Everton2714493935446
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs27136846281845
8Liverpool28127947361143
9Aston Villa261241038271140
10Arsenal27115113528738
11Leeds UnitedLeeds27112144346-335
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2898112837-935
13Crystal Palace2897123047-1734
14Southampton2796123344-1133
15Burnley2879122036-1630
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2776142744-1727
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton27511112735-826
18Fulham28511122233-1126
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom2839162056-3618
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd2842221645-2914

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