Belfast Telegraph

Gunners will face City's wrath after shock loss against Toon: Laporte

 

Response: Aymeric Laporte expects Manchester City to hit back
Response: Aymeric Laporte expects Manchester City to hit back

By Damian Spellman

Aymeric Laporte has urged Manchester City to make Arsenal pay for their shock defeat at Newcastle as they attempt to keep their Premier League title challenge alive.

City looked to be well on the way to a ninth successive victory in all competitions and reducing Liverpool's lead at the top of the table to a single point when they took a first-minute lead at St James' Park on Tuesday evening.

However, Pep Guardiola's shell-shocked side eventually left Tyneside on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline - and Laporte knows there is only one acceptable response when they return to action against the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The French defender said: "Obviously it's always disappointing when you lose because we were supposed to get closer to Liverpool and to our goal.

"But obviously we need to learn and look forward, learn about our mistakes and think about the next games.

"There are still 14 games left, so we are going to fight until the end. We have a great team no matter what the result was, so I am not worried about the performance and the players we have in our squad.

"Hopefully we can improve and we can do better in the upcoming games."

Sergio Aguero's early strike looked ominous for the Toon, but, although the visitors dominated possession, they were unable to extend their lead to give Rafael Benitez's men hope.

City finally succumbed with 66 minutes gone when they failed to deal fully with a ball into the box and, when Isaac Hayden helped it back in, Salomon Rondon volleyed level.

Worse was to follow for Guardiola's side with 10 minutes remaining when Fernandinho's clumsy challenge sent Sean Longstaff to the turf and Matt Ritchie stepped up to convert the resulting penalty.

Laporte said: "We had chances and we should have scored more goals. We had more chances than them, but they were just more efficient than us, to sum up the game. They had very few chances and they scored, and we didn't."

Sean Longstaff enjoyed his "perfect night" as he rubbed shoulders with - and got the better of - City's aristocrats.

The 21-year-old Newcastle academy graduate has been thrown in at the deep end in recent weeks, with Jonjo Shelvey, Mohamed Diame and Ki Sung-yueng all injured.

But, having cut his teeth in defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea around the turn of the year, he was pitched into battle with City stars Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Leroy Sane on Tuesday evening.

Longstaff said: "It's unbelievable for me to be able to see where I am, as a young 21-year-old lad, trying to break in to see what the top level is.

"Obviously you want to get into the Premier League, but that (playing against Manchester City) is a different level.

"That's Champions League, that's some of the best players in the world on the pitch, so for me to be able to play against them first-hand is unbelievable.

"If there was a perfect night, it would be to beat probably one of the top teams in the world at a place like St James' with the fans helping us get over the line.

"It was unbelievable, and probably one of the best nights of my life so far."

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