Ake is playing beyond our expectations – Guardiola – Manchester City FC

Behind the Scenes
The Dutch defender has played in the position in our three victories and draw since returning from the World Cup in Qatar.
He was instrumental again in helping City to keep a clean sheet in Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea in the Premier League and the City boss was full of praise for Ake ahead of the rematch against the London Club in the FA Cup on Sunday.
“Nobody talks about Nathan and right now he’s playing beyond our expectations as a left-back,” Guardiola said ahead of the game.
“As a defender, how good he defends, all the actions with the ball are clever, these types of players help to make the others bright like Kevin [De Bruyne] and Erling [Haaland]. I always pay attention to these types of things.”
John Stones was also impressive in a tight clash at Stamford Bridge with the defender picking up the man of the match award.
The England defender had more touches than any player on the pitch, won all of his aerial duels and as well as making one outstanding tackle in the first half as Christian Pulisic threatened to break through.
“He played an incredible World Cup,” Guardiola said. “He was one of the first signings when I joined here seven years ago.
“I know when he goes well, I know when he’s happy and stable, what a player.
“He’s had ups and downs in the past and injuries but this is part of the process to realise what he needs, to be consistent.”
FA Cup
Meanwhile, midfielder Kalvin Phillips is in contention to face Chelsea with the City boss saying he needs him.
Rodri suffered cramp in the closing minutes at Stamford Bridge and the City boss is keen to give the Spaniard some rest.
Phillips’ first months at the Etihad Stadium were disrupted by a shoulder injury but Guardiola says he’s ready to play his part.
“For sure, in the Carabao Cup [Phillips] is going to play and on Sunday we’ll see. I had the feeling last week that he’s back. I have a good feeling,” he said.
“Kalvin last season at Leeds, for a long part of the season was injured. He came, then after he couldn’t train.
“He struggled, had the operation with his shoulder, he fought to go to the World Cup, he got it and that’s why it was a long period without playing – in the middle of the competition he needs rhythm and [to understand] the concepts.
“As quick as possible we need him. Look what happened to Rodri with the cramp, he needs rest and we need Kalvin like all the players. We’ll try to fix it.”
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