'We didn't have a proper defender' - Pep Guardiola singles out Nathan Ake for giving Man City vital 'boost' in bid to conquer Europe
- City crowned Premier League champions
- Aiming for domestic and European treble
- Guardiola says Ake has been vital
WHAT HAPPENED? Ake has been an important figure throughout the 2022-23 campaign, filling in at left-back and centre-back at various points for City as they went on to win the Premier League this weekend. The Dutch defender has missed City's last four matches - against Real Madrid in the Champions League and Everton and Chelsea in the league - due to a hamstring injury, but the coach feels he has been one of the most important players in their pursuit of a treble.
WHAT THEY SAID: "He has been fundamental," Guardiola said after City beat Chelsea on Sunday. "I learned this season when you play against [Bukayo] Saka, Vinicius [Junior], [Gabriel] Martinelli and [Mohamed] Salah or [Sadio] Mane in the past, you need a proper defender to win duels one v one. Or, in the Champions League, at that level, they need one action to beat you and Nathan gave us that boost that I didn't have in the past. The biggest boost was having a proper defender and in the past we didn't have it and Nathan, [Manuel] Akanji and [Kyle] Walker did it."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: City were crowned champions before their 1-0 win against Chelsea on Sunday as Arsenal were beaten by Nottingham Forest the previous day. They could still get their hands on two more trophies, with the FA Cup final against Manchester United and the Champions League final against Inter coming up.
City full-back Walker is looking forward to the headline ties next month, saying: "We’re not finished, we’ve got the FA Cup against our bitter rivals and the Champions League final on June 10. We will enjoy it today, we will have a few glasses of champagne but then we move onto June, which is the big one and hopefully we can create history with this great club.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? City will take on Brighton on Wednesday and then visit Brentford in their last Premier League match of the season before they get ready for the finals.