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Thursday 15 November 2018

Pep counts toll of draw at Palace

De Bruyne and Jesus are hurt, meaning Sanchez could be a January target

Gabriel Jesus limps off the pitch against Crystal Palace
Gabriel Jesus limps off the pitch against Crystal Palace

Pep Guardiola refused to rule out a fresh approach for Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez after Gabriel Jesus suffered a suspected knee injury in Manchester City's 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace.

On a damaging afternoon, City's pursuit of a 19th successive Premier League victory ended in frustration and with injuries to Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne, who was taken off on a stretcher following a late challenge by Jason Puncheon.

That came in a dramatic finish to the match, which saw Ederson save Luka Milivojevic's late penalty to keep City unbeaten in the league this season.

City attempted to sign Sanchez, whose contract expires at the season's end and who Guardiola once signed for Barcelona, during the summer transfer window.

Spell

With Jesus facing a spell on the sidelines Guardiola was asked about the Chilean, and the 46-year-old responded: "We will have meetings and see what is best.

"He is a player from Arsenal and I think he is going to stay at Arsenal. Now (the priority) is just to recover from today. Sometimes you ask for that but I have a lot of things in my mind. In two days, we have another game (at home to Watford). But now Alexis is an Arsenal player."

Guardiola had already expressed concerns Jesus could be ruled out for up to two months when he said: "Gabriel will be out for maybe a little more than one month.

"Kevin, we will see tomorrow, if it is a kick or something else. We were lucky in recent games. It is the same. I admire the physicality of the league, but the referees have to protect the players. It is all I am asking.

"We were lucky against Tottenham, with Kevin, we were lucky against Newcastle, (with Ilkay) Gundogan; today we will see what happens. Hopefully it is just a huge kick. Maybe he will not be ready for Watford game. Protect all the players please from situations that are dangerous."

That City performed below the extraordinary level they have consistently achieved this season meant that they dropped points in the Premier League for only the second time in 21 games, and for the first time did not score.

They regardless remain undefeated, in first place, and 14 points above closest challengers Chelsea, but Guardiola played down their chances of emulating Arsenal in 2004, when the Gunners went the entire league season without defeat.

"That is not going to happen," he said. "I am not thinking to be unbeaten. Maybe Arsene (Wenger) is worried about that but I tell him many times that 2004 run is for him.

"Today is completely different to 2004. Here are now more strong teams, a lot of competitions, a lot of games. That is not going to happen. I try to win the game, and especially focus on Watford."

Palace's Scott Dann and Puncheon also suffered injuries in the match, Puncheon's coming in the challenge that ended De Bruyne's afternoon.

Secure

Despite those and seeing his team waste the chance to secure victory by missing a late penalty for the second time this month, Roy Hodgson insisted he took significant satisfaction from the draw.

"With five or six minutes to go I was thinking more in terms of making sure we didn't lose our point than going on to win it," said the 70-year-old.

"It was an opportunity that came as a great bonus."

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