REUTERS - Pep Guardiola reckoned he had not had time for penalty-taking practice sessions but conceded that he may have to introduce them at Manchester City following their latest spot kick calamity on Saturday.
Guardiola watched his Premier League leaders dominate Everton but two missed penalties, which meant City have now wasted four of their eight spot kicks this season, ensured only a frustrating 1-1 draw.
Tame efforts from Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero were comfortably saved by the inspired Maarten Stekelenburg, leaving Guardiola to ponder just what an expensive habit these squandered gifts could become.
The two dropped points on Saturday ensured Arsenal joined City at the top with Guardiola’s men now only ahead on goal difference.
“I don’t have time to practice everything I want to practice,” Guardiola conceded ruefully at the end of an international week. “Penalties you can practice in training, but training there is no one there.”
De Bruyne and Aguero both offered up poor penalties either side of halftime so that, eventually, only a Nolito header for City answered Romelu Lukaku’s smash and grab goal for Everton.
It ended a particularly bad week for substitute Aguero, the marksman supreme who evidently only struggles for confidence when face-to-face with a goalie from 12 yards.
He has now missed four penalties for club and country this season, including one in midweek for Argentina in their World Cup qualifying defeat by Paraguay.
On Wednesday, he will be in action in the Nou Camp for the Champions League match with Barcelona and here was a rather untimely reminder that he also missed a penalty there for City last year.
Guardiola has now seen his side fail to win in their last three games following the Champions League draw with Celtic and the Premier League defeat by Tottenham Hotspur but the manager was far from unhappy with their display.
“I am not frustrated with the team,” he said, after seeing his men pepper 18 shots on Everton’s goal. “I am sad for the players. They deserved to win the game. They did everything to win it.”
The heroic Stekelenburg, who made other outstanding saves apart from the penalty stops, did everything to ensure they were denied.
“It’s not only guesswork for the penalties, you do the analysis as well,” he explained, after sparing Phil Jagielka’s blushes after the Everton captain had given away the two spot kicks with poor challenges.
“Will Phil Jagielka buy me dinner after that?” the Dutchman smiled. “I will ask him!”
Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Pritha Sarkar